Dry vs. Canned Cat Food: Which is the Best for Your Pet?

By PetMD Editorial on May 22, 2014
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Choosing Between Dry and Canned Cat Food

Do you feed your cat dry food, canned food, or a little bit of both? Both canned and dry cat foods can be excellent sources of balanced nutrition. Often the decision boils down to you and your pet's preferences. Here are few cat food facts from veterinarians to better help you make a decision.

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Dry Cat Food: The Pros

Dry cat food is generally cheaper than canned food of a similar quality. "So if finances are tight," says Dr. Jennifer Coates, "feed a dry food that offers balanced nutrition derived from wholesome ingredients versus a low quality canned food." Dry kibble is also the most convenient type of cat food when it comes to storage and cleaning. Unlike with canned cat food, there's no need to make space for dry kibble in the refrigerator or clean the feeding area (perhaps even Fluffy) every time your pet eats. In fact, some types of dry cat food have been specially designed to clean your pet's teeth and promote oral health.

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Canned Pet Food: The Pros

"Few dogs and cats will turn down the opportunity to eat wet food," says Dr. Ken Tudor. "Whether it is a texture preference, an olfactory preference, or taste preference is unknown. Likely it is a combination of all three factors." Whatever the reason, it's a safe bet your pet will love canned pet food, even if he or she has seemed picky about eating dry food in the past. Canned pet foods also tend to have higher water and lower carbohydrate levels than dry food. Some of these characteristics can be beneficial under certain circumstances. For example, cats with lower urinary tract disorders might benefit from the added water in canned food, says Dr. Coates.

Making the Choice Between Cat Foods

Although some people decide to stick with exclusively feeding their cat dry or canned food, many veterinarians actually recommend offering a mixture of both types of foods. "Depending on your needs," says Dr. Jennifer Coates, "you can primarily feed your cat dry food with just a meal or two of canned food per week." Another option is to feed your cat canned food every day with a few dry kibbles sprinkled on top. It is, however, important to pay attention to the added calories when feeding your pet a mix of canned and dry food in order to avoid weight issues.


Ultimately what's most important is that you discuss with your veterinarian the options. Your cat needs a well-balanced diet that benefits his or her lifestyle and health condition. This may mean dry cat food, canned food, or even a combination of both.