Satisfying a fussy cat can frustrate cat owners who are seeking a food that is nutritionally balanced, whilst trying to appease the choosy palate of their cat. At Cat Food Advisor we delve into the question, ‘Is Dry Cat Food Bad for Cats?’
The Opinion of Experts
Veterinarians and pet nutritionists worldwide will all have an opinion as to whether wet canned cat foods are a better choice to dry kibble, or whether dry cat foods are a better option.
Pet owner’s cats will also have an opinion! Some cats turn their nose up and refuse to have anything to do with eating wet cat food, but gobble down dry food and with other cats, it may be the other way around.
The Two Arguments Against Dry Cat Food Are:
1. Dry Foods Typically Have More Carbohydrates: – Cats are carnivores and cannot thrive on carbohydrate dense foods, and canned wet food are low-carb compared with dry cat food.
2. Cats Eating Dry Food Do Not Drink Enough Water: – Causing kidney and urinary tract diseases. Canned food maintains hydration in cats.
Let Us Now Consider These Two Arguments
Argument 1- Dry Foods Typically Have More Carbohydrates
Dry foods generally contain more carbohydrates in the form of grains than wet food. Their recipes will typically include ingredients such as wheat, corn meal, soy, and rice. Some dry foods will utilize proteins from vegetable, rather than meat. Many experts argue that cats are carnivores, and carnivores should get their protein only from meat.
It is contested that a feline’s diet with too many carbohydrates is a major cause of obesity and diabetes in cats.
However, when looking at the science, this notion is not supported. Cats can readily and effectively utilize carbohydrates as a source of energy, and they are adaptable to different nutrient ratios in their diet.
While cats do require some carbohydrates in their diet, it is accepted that the amount they require is less than other animals such as dogs (being more omnivorous).
So Why Do Some Cats Become Obese on Dry Food?
As with humans, it is likely due to excessive calories. Over fed cats will put on weight!
Some cat owners, unknowingly, buy the inexpensive dry foods without consideration to the nutrients and ingredients in the product. Inexpensive cat foods often contain ingredients that are high in calories, whilst lacking in the essential nutrients required by cats for a healthy balanced lifestyle.
The cat’s body knows what it needs, and in its quest to gather all the nutrients it requires, will keep eating until it satisfies its nutritional cravings. This is no different to people who eat too many McDonalds hamburgers. The food is nutritionally deficient and very high in calories, causing people to put on weight!
Not only are nutrients often lacking in cheaper cat food products, but the recipes quite often contain excessive inferior fats from fish oils, chicken or pig fat. These can interrupt the uptake of other nutrients and add to the problem of weight gain in felines.
Up to this point, we have been referring to dry kibble. However, companies selling wet canned cat foods can also be guilty of inferior products.
Argument 2- Cats Eating Dry Food Do Not Drink Enough Water.
This is plausible. Nobody wants their cat to develop urinary tract infections or kidney failure due to dehydration.
However, this argument is flawed for several reasons.
Firstly, cats can produce more highly concentrated urine than canines and have lower water requirements. Some studies have concluded that there is no difference with the water intake in cats between those fed a dry diet or wet.
There are many other factors affecting water intake in cats other than from what they eat, including protein and mineral content of the food, as well as energy density.
Typically, higher moisture diets have less calories to dry food (if consuming the same quantity of food). Therefore, cats eating wet food are less likely to have weight problems is an acceptable viewpoint. However, cat owners with an active cat with higher energy demands, would not need to be concerned with the density of calories in dry food.
Is Dry Food Bad for Cats- Conclusion
Regardless of whether you decide upon dry or wet food, your focus should be on the nutrients it contains, and on recipes having quality ingredients, rather than on the price point of the product.
Constant dehydration in cats can lead to kidney and urinary tract disease, yet the evidence does not support the argument that feeding dry food will exasperate this risk. Having fresh clean water always on hand, will ensure cats are well hydrated, especially on hot days.
Kittens being weaned, require plenty of water, or supplementing with milk formula, whilst they are adapting to dry kitten food to ensure they are hydrated.
Excessive calorie intake will cause weight gain in cats, especially inactive cats. Wet cat food is less calorie dense and therefore a better option for cats prone to weight gain.
Pet owners could consider the option to include both dry and wet cat food in their cat’s diet.
Is dry food bad for cats? The short answer is no!