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Is Pure Wet Always Better Than Dry?

Discussion in 'Cat Nutrition' started by Espalia, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Espalia

    Espalia Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    I've spent a lot of time reading about cat food, and having just welcomed two kittens who probably got a less-than-ideal start to life I want to get this right.

    Is it really a hard and fast rule that an all-wet diet is better than a 50/50 or mostly wet with some dry food mixed in? I want to try to ignore the owner considerations, as I totally understand that dry food can be more convenient, less smelly, cheaper, cleaner, etc, etc and I think those are valid things for an owner to consider. But, I just want to focus on the food itself, ignoring all outside considerations.

    I just find it really hard to believe that a full diet of the trashiest canned food (friskies, 9lives, purina, iams, meowmix), which I understand to be full of fillers, carbs, and protein from poor quality sources could be better than premium grain-free dry food like Nature's Variety, Fromms, and Wellness (to name a few that seem popular on the site).

    Is it more important for me to feed a wet diet or pay attention to ingredients? I naively bought Royal Canin baby cat food for my kittens because it was the only food specifically made "for cats under 4 months old" and is supposed to help them transition off of formula (I don't actually know what they were eating before I got them). Now they are on Nature's Variety Instinct dry kitten food and I've been trying out different kitten-specific grain-feww canned foods like blue buffalo. I have a hard time finding kitten-specific wet foods at my local petco, especially in the brands that tend to get touted as being the best. Do I need to get a kitten-specific food? My kittens were bottle fed and I worry they didn't get the right amount of nutrients and vitamins and that it's super important I feed them well in these early months.

    Also, does anyone have an opinion about Halo Spot's pate? It was on sale and the ingredients looked good a few weeks ago when I hadn't found this forum so I picked up a couple of cans for my kitties and they hands down love it more than any other food I've given them. It seems people on this site like to avoid sweet potato and carageenan, which are both ingredients in this food so I likely won't be buying it again...
     

  2. MissMolly08

    MissMolly08 TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Yes, ANY wet is better than even the most premium dry from my understanding. Cats natural prey in the wild is something like 78% moisture. They have a low thirst drive because they are meant to get all of their moisture from their food. Dry food is only about 10% moisture. This lack of moisture in their diet can lead to kidney disease/urinary crystals down the road.
    Also, "grain free" does NOT mean free of fillers. Premium dry foods that are grain free still use things like potatoes and chickpeas because they HAVE to have some kind of starchy ingredient to bind the kibble pieces together. Pretty much any dry food is going to be higher in carbs than most wet foods for that very reason. Cats don't need carbs.
    As far as kitten specific... kitten foods generally have higher calories per oz and higher fat which kittens need to grow. You do not HAVE to feed a kitten specific food... you can look for a food labeled "ALL LIFE STAGES", you may just need to feed more of it to reach your kittens calorie requirements.
    There are a lot of controversial ingredients in pet foods. You don't HAVE to avoid carrageenan or sweet potato, that's totally a personal decision. I have a tight budget and basically every food I can afford contains carrageenan. When it's that or not eating... my cat is going to get carrageenan!

    All of that said though, I don't believe that a 100% wet diet is ALWAYS better as it does depend on the cat. Some are not fond of wet food and need at least a little dry in their diet to meet their needs. Some cats get acid reflux if they go too long between meals which may mean they do better if a little dry food is left out for them. Every cat is different.
    Generally though, if your cat accepts wet food and doesn't have a problem with scheduled feedings, YES, wet is the better choice.

    This is the most commonly sited resource here on nutrition, it may help explain it better.... Commercial Cat Foods
     
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  3. Elena2915

    Elena2915 TCS Member Young Cat

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    Person above me is right
    And the only nutritional difference between a Kitten and adult cat is the amount of calories and fat.

    You can feed adult cat food to a Kitten without issues they may just need to eat a little more but not always.

    A good brand to try is Nutro if you’re wanting to stay at petsmart or Petco
    If not
    Weruva
    Koha
    Primal
    Ziwi Peak
    Addiction
    Honest Kitchen
    Are all good brands to try.
     

  4. Willowy

    Willowy TCS Member Top Cat

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    Except that even the trashiest canned food ISN'T full of carbs and fillers, and, for obligate carnivores, any meat protein source is better than any non-meat protein source, even if humans consider it low-quality. I've spent a lot of time looking at cat food labels, and I have never seen any canned cat food that doesn't have more meat products than almost any dry food. The only canned food I've seen with blatant fillers is Special Kitty tuna, which has "wheat middlings" (whatever that is). But even the best dry food needs to have a certain level of carbs to bind it together. And of course the moisture issue is a big one for cats too.

    Any food that's labeled "all life stages" or "for cats and kittens" is made to the standard for kitten food and is fine for your kitten. Some of the higher-quality canned foods (like Weruva) are very low-calorie and are labeled "for adult cats". Those should be avoided for kittens; they need all the calories they can get.
     
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  5. Elena2915

    Elena2915 TCS Member Young Cat

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    Actually
    In most cases low quality canned food will have around the same or less amount of carbs than high end dry food.

    So nutrient profile wise (not ingredient) low end canned food is the same as the average “high end” dry.
     

  6. Espalia

    Espalia Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Thanks for linking to that article, I read it and found it be very interesting. It seems like, as you stated, the main problem with dry foods is their lack of moisture and I see why this is a serious problem. I have heard of people mixing water into dry food (obviously you shouldn't let it sit out for very long after you do this), which might help mitigate the problem. I guess maybe the heart of the matter is how does one balance making sure their cat is getting enough moisture with feeding high quality ingredients, especially if cost and time are an issue. Many people look for quality ingredients in their pet food while missing the importance of proper moisture, but is it really ideal to ignore ingredients as long as the cat is getting proper moisture?
     

  7. Espalia

    Espalia Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Friskies pate lists rice as an ingredient, 9lives lists soy, wheat flour, soy protein concentrate, modified corn starch, and soy flour. I really want to stress all that soy because soy is a protein source, and so all the protein in 9lives canned is clearly not from animal sources. I also don't think you could definitely say that canned food has more meat based on an ingredients list, because you don't know how much the amount of each ingredient are. For example, the first three products on Friskies pate are meat from animals (two of which are by products), the next ingredient is rice and then fish and no more meat after that. The first four ingredients in Nature's Instinct dry food are animal-derived meats, then peas, then chicken fat then more animal-derived protein sources like chicken heart and liver further down. Can I definitively say that the canned food has more meat products? I'm really not sure. I find comparing wet and dry food to be maddeningly difficult. And I'm not convinced that it isn't best to feed a mixture of both, since bad ingredients exist in both sources of food and cats actually do supplement some of the moisture from their food by drinking water out of a bowl (or having it squirted on their food by a human).
     

  8. Espalia

    Espalia Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Thanks for the recommendations! I don't need to stick with Petco, it's just an easy place to pick up all the cans and compare ingredients. I have gotten the sense that "kitten food" is really a marketing thing, although sometimes it seems like kitten food has more supplementary vitamins. I've noticed all kitten foods seem to list taurine as an ingredient, whereas adult foods don't - so I was wondering if there was anything to that.
     

  9. Kirstin@AllBeings

    [email protected] The People & Pet Nutritionist Kitten

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    As a pet (and people) nutritionist, I look at things from a science and physiological perspective since there is so much contradicting pet food information out there. Same for human food but here are just a few things to keep in mind when thinking about what cat food to choose:

    1) Cat's can't actually process carbohydrates (like the grains, vegetables, fruits, added sugars, etc. in most food) since they lack the enzymes to digest them. Unfortunately most processed pet food on the market today is filled with carbs though making the food so much less nutritious for your cat and increasing the chance of him/her becoming overweight and getting Diabetes.

    2) Cat's can't easily process dry food which is why you see an increase in kidney disease these days, even in cats that are only a couple years old. It also creates an acidic, unhealthy environment within their bodies leading to bladder infections and blockages and so many other health conditions. Therefore, avoid dry food at all cost for these reasons and for so many other processing and ingredient quality-related ones.

    3) The percentage of protein, fat, etc. listed on cat food is not an accurate way to tell what macronutrients are really in the food. At least a special dry matter basis calculation needs to be done to figure out how much of that food is carbs, protein, and fat since this allows all ingredients to be compared on a more equal playing field. You'll be surprised at the results but when it comes to cat food, we want these dry matter calculations to result in an ideal carb percentage of 10% or less. I can't tell you one canned or dry food that currently comes under that except maybe something like RAWZ which I haven't actually analyzed yet. I just know of all canned food, this is one possibility worth considering due to its higher quality ingredients and minimal processing.

    4) Lastly, I'll just say from a science perspective that the ultimate food options for your kitten or cat is frozen raw (e.g. Darwin's) or freeze-dried raw (e.g. Stella & Chewy's). Raw means the food is full of enzymes (i.e. life and vitality), maximum nutrients, and the ideal protein, fat, and carb balance for their genetic make-up. It's also way easier to give now and more affordable than you think since your cat will eat less due to how nutrient dense each meal is.

    Sorry if that was a bit geeky sounding but it's so important for us to ignore the marketing messages we hear and see and really look at a cat's anatomy and function to determine the best possible food for them to thrive. If anybody wants to have their current cat food (or one they're thinking about trying) analyzed and then mapped to any symptoms your cat may be showing from soft stools to itchy skin, I do this at my All Beings Nutritional Therapy practice. My cat, Freddie, is almost 22 now thanks to ideal nutrition for at least the last 14 years and I just want to help as many cats as possible achieve the same kind of health and life she has had. They all deserve it, don't they? :)
     
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  10. MissMolly08

    MissMolly08 TCS Member Alpha Cat

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    Taurine is essential for cats of all life stages so it should be listed in adult foods as well. If it isn't you may be looking at "supplemental" foods. There are some wet foods that are meant as a treat only and are NOT properly balanced to be the bulk of a cat's diet. When searching for a wet food to feed as an actual meal, not a treat, you want to make sure that it states somewhere on the can that it is formulated to meet AAFCO standards and is balanced for growth/maintenance.
     

  11. Neo_23

    Neo_23 TCS Member Top Cat

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    This will only be true of very few dry foods like ziwipeak or dr. Elsey’s.

    But even then these foods don’t have enough moisture so they’re still not as “good” as canned.
     
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  12. Neo_23

    Neo_23 TCS Member Top Cat

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    In addition to what @MissMolly08 said, sometimes canned foods don’t add in extra taurine because the meat sources in the food already provide sufficient taurine. I would double check with the manufactuerer’s website though to be sure since taurine is so important for cats.
     

  13. Neo_23

    Neo_23 TCS Member Top Cat

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    @[email protected] My kitten eats mostly Rawz and he loves it. It is the only food I’ve ever given him that he digests properly and has good poops on :)
     

  14. Espalia

    Espalia Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    I'm just trying to understand why the issue of sufficient moisture and the issue of nutrition seemed to be interchangeable when we are talking about cat food. I understand that when a cat doesn't get sufficient moisture it leads to many health problems down the road - and additionally, in the wild, cats gets almost all their moisture content from the food the eat. However, this seems like a completely separate issue to whether the food I am feeding my cat is meeting all (or most, as many as we can hope to meet...) their nutritional needs. While the issue of enough moisture is very important, it seems like the argument for any canned food over dry food, or even just a partial dry food diet is based solely on this one factor.
     

  15. Neo_23

    Neo_23 TCS Member Top Cat

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    This might be helpful: Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition
     

  16. Espalia

    Espalia Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    @neo_23 I have read this resource, and while I think the author make very good points, their argument for wet food is based solely on the fact that cats can develop urinary tract blockages on a dry diet - not to mention, this issue affects them deeply on an emotional level. Their argument for canned food is based on moisture content and is obviously a very important factor owners should consider when feeding their cat. But there are other ways of introducing moisture into a cat's diet, as I mentioned - some people add water to dry food. I have also read some really positive reviews about freeze-dried foods, which need to have water added to them. My initial question was more about the nutritional value of the food - can we really say all canned food is better than dry food if that claim is only based on moisture content.
     

  17. Neo_23

    Neo_23 TCS Member Top Cat

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    I agree that freeze dried is a good option, but that would be considered rehydrated raw and not dry kibbles.

    In terms of nutritional value, I think making general statements like “all canned food is better than all dry” may not always hold true and every pet owner needs to do their own research about what they are feeding. But I think the statement that “most canned foods (even low quality ones) have less carbs than most dry foods (even high quality ones)” is a pretty reasonable statement. It’s very hard to find a dry food with less than 10% carbs.
     

  18. Espalia

    Espalia Thread Starter TCS Member Adult Cat

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    Hi Kristin,

    Thanks for the detailed response, I somehow missed it earlier. I appreciate that you address both the moisture and the actual nutritional value of the food, and I think what you said about how you haven't found either a canned or dry food that clocks in under 10% carbs gets at why this is such a difficult and confusing topic. I will look into RAWZ, but I'm also intrigued by the freeze-dried raw option, which I have only recently heard of.
     

  19. Kirstin@AllBeings

    Kirstin[email protected] The People & Pet Nutritionist Kitten

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    You're very welcome Espalia but you probably missed it since I incorrectly placed my reply. I'm new to the Cat Site forums (as of yesterday) so I'm still learning the ropes. :)

    And so glad to hear you'll look at these much healthier options! When I started raw food with Freddie over 14 years ago, there weren't many options and it was very expensive. However today, there are so many wonderful choices and the price point becomes more reasonable since they eat less of a more nutrient-dense food. Also, freeze-dried raw makes a great introduction into the raw realm so I hope you'll give that a try soon! Your cats will thank you for it. :)
     

  20. Neo_23

    Neo_23 TCS Member Top Cat

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    There are actually tons of canned foods that are under 10% carbs. Check out Dr. Peirson's nutritional chart on catinfo.org.
     

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