Is "good dry food" better than "low quality wet food" in a diet?

luca79

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Hei there! what is your take on this argument? i feed my cats 3 times per day, two wet and one dry (or one wet and two dry depending on the day :) )
Is it better to feed a cat with a good quality dry food (Acana and so on) or would it be better to feed them only with wet food? although not always of the best quality (Whiskas for example). Because of the budget and time i cannot feed my cats ONLY with raw/good quality wet food as i do know.
It would be interesting to hear your point of view.
 

lisahe

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I think my answer would be that cats should be fed a diet that's as meaty and low-carb as possible, with as few plant-based fillers (like grains, peas, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes, carrots, etc.) as possible. Cats' food should include plenty of fluid/water; this can help prevent kidney disease. We feed our cats almost exclusively wet foods (sometimes adding extra water to canned foods) with just a very small amount of dry food that has no plant-based fillers at all.

I learned the basics of cat nutrition from this vet's site. It's a bit overwhelming because it contains so much information that can take some time to sort through: Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition – Common Sense. Healthy Cats. This chunk, on kidney disease, is especially important.

If I had to choose between cheap wet foods and expensive dry food, I'd definitely choose cheap wet foods for our cats. I don't know what cat foods you can easily buy in Norway but in the U.S., not all cheap foods are bad! Fancy Feast Classics (which seem to have varying names and recipes around the globe) are very, very decent food. I recall that Whiskas can vary a lot by country, too: what's available in the U.S. has wheat gluten and other ingredients I wouldn't feed but their Canadian foods are totally different.

Just for fun I looked on the Swedish Whiskas page and found this food, which seems to be just meat and meat byproducts plus nutrients and sugars. Important warning! Of course I don't actually read Swedish (I considered studying it in college but opted for Russian instead!) so may have misunderstood something, plus I can't tell for sure if this food is a complete meal, though the minerals would seem to indicate that it probably is. (Plus the site also has a separate page for "snacks.") I don't really like the mention of sugars (I've seen these on English-language labels, too) but have no problem whatsoever with byproducts; cats eat whole mice and birds if given the chance and those contain what humans consider byproducts. Despite the sugars, I'd choose this Whiskas food over any dry food containing peas, potatoes, or similar starchy/carby vegetables. I also took a look at this Whiskas food, which looks like it has some sort of vegetable protein extract that I'd probably prefer to avoid since I'm unfamiliar with it. (I looked it up and found it's in a lot of foods... but didn't look into it further than that...) For our cats, who have some weird food sensitivities, including potatoes, I need to keep food recipes as simple as possible, looking for simple stuff like that first Whiskas recipe.

Sorry that's probably a lot more than you wanted to hear! Good luck!
 

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lisahe lisahe made a great response and I would second what they mentioned.

Since you asked for opinions, IMO the cheapest wet food is almost always going to be better than the best dry food. I include the "almost always" because I'm sure there's some horrid, overly-processed, carbohydrate filled junk that maybe I haven't heard of, but of the hundreds of brands I do know of, wet is better. My reasoning isn't because of the ingredients per se, but simply because of the type of food. Dry food looks nothing like the food cats would have had in their natural diet. It's dehydrated (forcing cats to drink more water and can contributing to UTI's), undergoes the most amount of processing (to "cook" all pathogens out and achieve a bite sized pellet), and extremely addicting. I've read so many stories of people that can't transition their cats to wet food because they're so addicted to dry pellets. Kibble is just something so far from what a cat should be eating I cannot get behind it. Looking toward ingredients, I've seen far more carbohydrates (mainly rice and corn) in dry foods compared to wet, and finding a single protein seems to be getting harder and harder.

I want to add that everyone can only feed what they can afford, so I try not to make people feel too bad about feeding dry if it's all they can afford. However, since we're talking about cheap wet food vs. expensive dry that wouldn't be an issue here. When I was younger my mom didn't know any better and fed our cats both the cheapest wet and dry foods, and sadly both of my cats paid for it. They both died around 10 years old from diabetes, something that is almost 100% preventable in cats. It's only recently (past 40 or so years) that we're seeing such an increase in cases of diabetes in cats. Because of this, I think I may have a bit of bias, but I digress.


Here's a great video that also relays some good points. (the actual video starts at 1:43 lol)
 

lisahe

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Beholder Beholder , you make some very good points about cats and illnesses. Like your mother, we didn't know how to feed our last cat; she ended up with IBD. During her last months, I found Dr. Pierson's site and learned a lot about feeding cats. And thank goodness because the two cats we adopted have lots of food issues! That's why we feed them such a low-carb, high-meat diet... which is what cats are built to eat in the first place! The sad thing, though, is that so many of us learn about feline nutrition only after our cats get illnesses that better diets could prevent or at least lessen.
 

Beholder

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Beholder Beholder , you make some very good points about cats and illnesses. Like your mother, we didn't know how to feed our last cat; she ended up with IBD. During her last months, I found Dr. Pierson's site and learned a lot about feeding cats. And thank goodness because the two cats we adopted have lots of food issues! That's why we feed them such a low-carb, high-meat diet... which is what cats are built to eat in the first place! The sad thing, though, is that so many of us learn about feline nutrition only after our cats get illnesses that better diets could prevent or at least lessen.
Yup! And it doesn't help when many times our vets don't understand what a healthy diet is for a cat. After my two boys passed when I was growing up I basically made it my mission to feed any future cats a better diet. It was a very long process of switching from so many different foods, but ultimately Jackson Galaxy was the one that enlightened me about dry food and carbohydrates and I'm so thankful. Morty currently has (suspected) IBD so diet is really important for us as well.
 
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luca79

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Thanks so much for the interesting answers!

@ lisahe lisahe useful links and answer!
 
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luca79

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I appreciate the answers! i add more questions on the table :lol:
Let's take Orijen or Acana that i buy as dry food (but it costs a fortune!): www.orijenpetfoods.com/en-US/cats/cat-food/cat-and-kitten/ds-ori-cat-kitten.html Their dry food is sold as super healthy:
  • Grain-free with 90%* protein-rich animal sources, 10%+ fruits, vegetables, and nutrients, and no added no added soy, corn, wheat or tapioca
  • First 5 ingredients always fresh or raw protein including poultry and fish
  • Coated with freeze-dried liver for a taste your cat instinctively craves
  • Made in the USA with the world’s finest ingredients
Apart from the benefit of the moisture, isn't this better than a Whiskas wet food?
  • Ingredients: meat & meat by-products (of which 4% chicken), minerals, various sugars.
  • Additives: Vitamin B₁: 29 mg, Vitamin D₃: 250 IE, Vitamin E: 20 mg, Kalsiumjodat Vannfri: 0.5 mg, Kobbersulfat pentahydrat: 10 mg, Jernsulfat monohydrat: 54 mg, Mangansulfat monohydrat: 10.1 mg, Taurin: 880 mg, Zinksulfat monohydrat: 70.8 mg / Tekniske tilsetningsstoffer: Cassia gum: 2300 mg
I mention Whiskas because is sold around here and it's affordable. It could also be IAMS or for example. I try to feed my cats with fresh chicken/fish and Sheba or Almo wet food mostly.
What puzzle me is that there are a lot of brands that sells high quality dry food (according to them). But then if dry food itself is a problem, why not giving my cats some kind of average wet food instead of the dry? on top of some raw/fresh meat of course.

Thanks for the patience 🥰 i have many doubts about this
 

Willowy

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Apart from the benefit of the moisture, isn't this better than a Whiskas wet food?
Not necessarily. Dry food manufacturers like to appeal to humans with their whole "fruits and veggies" thing, but cats are obligate carnivores and have no need for, and derive no benefit from, fruits, veggies, or grains. And kibbles need a starch to stick together so they all have some kind of plant ingredient. And you may have noticed that the Whiskas wet food doesn't have any plant ingredients.
 

lisahe

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Considering cats' inclination toward kidney and urinary issues, I'd say that anything wet is better than anything dry, just because of the moisture, even if the ingredients are worse.
I agree with this! Even though I can't follow it for our cats: for better or worse, given their list of sensitivities -- like fish and the afore-mentioned potato! -- there's a lot we can't feed.

What puzzle me is that there are a lot of brands that sells high quality dry food (according to them). But then if dry food itself is a problem, why not giving my cats some kind of average wet food instead of the dry? on top of some raw/fresh meat of course.
This is exactly what I'd do: feed the meatiest and best (whatever "best" means for your cats' situation(s)!) wet foods you can. My personal thought on the Acana food is that if it's really expensive it's just not worth it. That's both because, yes, dry food is risky as a cat's main food and because this one contains things like fish and all those seven kinds of beans and lentils. Even if all those beans are in small amounts, when taken individually, they really start to add up. Why spend all that money to feed them when they're not a part of a cat's natural diet? (Our vet's favorite word about cats and diet is "meat"!) I'd especially avoid the Arcana if you can get a food like that basic Whiskas that's all meat-based protein. I fully agree with W Willowy 's other post on Acana v. Whiskas.

All that said, in the end, there's also absolutely nothing wrong with feeding a variety of foods. In fact, that can be the best thing you do for a cat! Our two cats like variety so we feed seven kinds of wet food each week (one for each day!), plus homemade food and commercial raw food; we add a little extra water to some of those wet foods. They also get very small amounts of a dry food (Dr. Elsey's chicken) that has no vegetable/grain fillers but is, unfortunately, hard to find right now. (And likely not available outside the US.) Feeding a variety -- maybe in your case, luca79 luca79 , that would be Whiskas plus Iams and other brands -- keeps cats from getting bored with their meals and is really helpful if something's suddenly not available. Or a recipe changes. (We've had things like these happen so many times in the last few years, particularly with the pandemic!) Finally, as you can tell, I don't think it's the worst thing in the world to feed small amounts of dry food, particularly if you add a little extra water to a cat's wet food to make up for the "lost" water in the dry food. But the dry food is where I'd be especially careful to look for something with the absolute minimum of vegetable matter. Unfortunately, that's very hard to find. Dr. Elsey's chicken is the only dry food I'd feed; I'm not sure how they make dry food without vegetable matter but wonder if perhaps the gelatin makes the little pieces stick together.

:)
 

Catsanddogs1238

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I have had my cat for 2 years. It took 1 year for my cat to decide on a food he likes and actually eat everyday. I have spend thousands of dollars on wet, dry, raw, freeze dried food plus numerous blood tests etc... Because i thought my cat was sick as he would go 4 days sometimes without eating. Now he finally eats as we have a better relationship and will only eat dr.elseys clean protein chicken or salmon dry food. Believe me i wish he would eat wet food but he wont and at least hes not thin as a cucumber from not eating. If that is not your case i think a high meat, low carb no filler wet food is better then dry.
 

lisahe

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I have had my cat for 2 years. It took 1 year for my cat to decide on a food he likes and actually eat everyday. I have spend thousands of dollars on wet, dry, raw, freeze dried food plus numerous blood tests etc... Because i thought my cat was sick as he would go 4 days sometimes without eating. Now he finally eats as we have a better relationship and will only eat dr.elseys clean protein chicken or salmon dry food. Believe me i wish he would eat wet food but he wont and at least hes not thin as a cucumber from not eating. If that is not your case i think a high meat, low carb no filler wet food is better then dry.
Ouch, how awful that you went through all that for a year! I'm glad you tried. Some cats really just won't eat wet food but I'm glad you were at least able to get him settled on Dr. Elsey's, which really is good food.
 

CarmiesMom

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Mignon is 7 in his life (affter he was weened the second time at 10 weeks health issues) we started with canned kitten food and kitten kibble then at 8 months he had to stay with my aunt durring some home reno and she fed 9 lives dry food when i got him back he had tummy issues and the only thing he could hand;e for a few months was cat chow gentle, when his mate came in a year later i slowly transitioned to cat chow indoor (all dry) with a can of purinia a piece once a week last year due to pndemic and such we switched to Country Lane dry food (not verry nutricious but what i could afford and was avalible) affter that was about 2-3 months switched to purinia cat chow but have even more recently switched to American Journey dry food from chew grain free and they still get a can a week or most do Mignon is a pickey eater and will not eat most canned cat food he will eat appitizer trays and those wild trays i dont know the brand but thy have like duck as a flavor and we recently found he will eat fancy feast ocean fish and shrimp but he has tio see an actuall shrimp or he wont touch it pate he turns his nose up at along woth most cat foods in canns e's done this sence tried to worm him useing canned food when he wasa lil over a year old. but they seem to be doing good on the American Journey wth a can a week (i cant afford more than that 5 cats limited income (live in care giver) i'm lucky grampa likes and allows my cats, the house is basically 2 appartments divided back into a singe family home in the 80's so i have a seperate living area and bedroom as well as bathroom and i have a microwave mini fridge and hotplate in the utility room the hot plate isnt used and was left by my uncle who lived where i do till he got married in 96 so anyway i cant afford more than a can a week) but they seem to be doing good on the new dry food heaven knows Mignon has gained weight,..lol
 

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I am in Eastern Europe luca79 luca79 and these are the ingredients disclosed for Whiskas beef & rabbit on a website I order cat food from. (Translated into English).

Ingredients: meat and offal (including beef and rabbit), animal products, wheat flour, amino acids (including taurine), thickeners, minerals, vitamins, beet pulp, sugars, natural colors.

Unless they manufacture different in Norway, (This is a pouch of wet food). I wonder if they are giving a slimmed down list of ingredients where you read that.
Whiskas wet, that I have seen, always include plant protein, often wheat or soy.
 
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luca79

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Unless they manufacture different in Norway, (This is a pouch of wet food). I wonder if they are giving a slimmed down list of ingredients where you read that.
Whiskas wet, that I have seen, always include plant protein, often wheat or soy.
Hei, do you mean it's a bad or a good thing?
 

Flybynight

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Wheat, sugar and beet pulp (beet pulp is probably mostly sugar) are not good.
I try to avoid any food with sugar added but have bought food with other questionable ingredients, as it can be hard to avoid everything you would like to avoid in cat food unless feeding raw.
 

neely

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I appreciate the answers! i add more questions on the table :lol:
Let's take Orijen or Acana that i buy as dry food (but it costs a fortune!): www.orijenpetfoods.com/en-US/cats/cat-food/cat-and-kitten/ds-ori-cat-kitten.html Their dry food is sold as super healthy
I disagree that Acana or Orijen are super healthy, please refer to my post that is several years old:
Problem With Acana Dry Food
Since writing this post I have successfully switched our present Persian cat to wet food. It took a long time but through trial and error I finally found a wet food he not only eats but enjoys. Best of luck!
 

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I feed only wet food due to the fact that m male cats can easily develop urinary blockage on a kibble based diet, they eat mostly Friskies pate because that is what I can afford and they always eat it and sometimes the best food is the one your cat's will eat consistently
 

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I'm late to the conversation but in my opinion probably most of the time good dry food is better than poor quality wet food. Dry food isn't necessarily a problem if the cat drinks enough water. Many cats don't drink enough water and I get that. But still, heavy majority cats I know get wet food only as a treat. Like once a week or less. They all live up to senior years. Or let's say there is no difference on their health and lifespan compare to the cats who are on a wet-only diet. Some do live short but then again so do some cats who are on a wet-only diet.

Anectodal experience but I have seen this with other cats. Before I adopted my cat she was one of the resident yard cats. I feed her only with wet food but it was Whiskas. At one point she needed to be hospitalized with infection etc. NOT to say the food caused it but I do believe the food failed to support her immune system because over the years I've been feeding the other cats with a dry-only diet, with good quality food, and so far none of the 3 needed to be hospitalized for anything.

Wet food IS better for hydration. But it might be worse for everything else if the food is poor quality vs good dry food.
 
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