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Why Cat Diet Choices Matter (Part 2)

How to choose foods
Published on: April 12, 2019

By Emily Parker,

Kibble has become so common because it’s easy to feed, and it’s typically cheaper than a moist cat food diet. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best!

If you look at the diet of wild/feral cats you’ll see that the food they eat are whole prey animals. Those animals typically have a moisture content of about 70%. That means they’re mostly water. Compare that to the average dry cat food, which typically contains 8-12% moisture.

Since cats get their moisture from prey animals, cats have a very weak thirst drive, and typically do not drink anywhere near enough water to make up for the lack of it in their food.

That’s why cats fed dry kibble diets often become dehydrated, and can suffer from some painful and potentially deadly diseases related to kidney failure and urinary tract problems.

Should You Feed Wet Or Dry Food?

Unless your cat has an unusually high thirst drive, you should feed your cat a wet diet, as it’s much more biologically appropriate.

We talked to a number of vets and they all told us the same thing.

Here’s what Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, told me when I asked her if wet was any better than dry, “Wet food is often the best option for cats for two main reasons. First of all, wet food has a much higher water content than does dry. When cats get a lot of water with their food, it’s easier for them to stay well-hydrated. This is especially important when a cat’s kidneys are not functioning well, since the kidneys are responsible for preventing excessive water loss through the urine. Secondly, wet food tends to have a lower carbohydrate and higher protein content in comparison to dry food. This more closely mimics the natural feline diet and may help prevent and/or manage common diseases like obesity and diabetes.”

Why A Good Quality Diet Makes A Positive Health Difference

First of all, a good cat food will not include ingredients that are known to, or are suspected to, cause cancer or otherwise give your kitty some health issues. Second, prolonged exposure to a kibble-only diet has been shown to lead to diseases such as FLUTD.

Beyond that, if you feed your cat too much food, particularly one high in calories and carbohydrates, their risk of obesity and diabetes significantly increases. Statistics show that upwards of 60% of all cats in the US are obese!

You can think of it in the same way you’d think of your diet. We all know that person who smokes a pack a day for 60 years, eats fast food every day, and is still alive into their senior years. However, we also know that these cases are NOT the norm. Eating junk food every day of your life will seriously increase your risk of disease and you probably won’t live as long.

So while bad food won’t necessarily hurt your cat, it will not provide the basis for the best health possible. A good cat food will better increase the chances that your cat is strong, active, healthy, happy, and alive well into her senior years to be your constant companion.

You don’t have to be perfect, and you don’t need to buy the most expensive cat food!

But what you can do, now that you have this basic information on the ideal feline diet, is just find a way to do a little bit better.

  • Mix in a good quality wet food with their kibble now and then.
  • Add a little bit of a freeze-dried raw food topper to their kibble.
  • Read the ingredient lists of some foods you can afford and select one that’s better than what you’re currently feeding.

Even a small change can help your cat when it’s compounded over their entire life!

Did you miss Part 1? Read How to Choose Biologically Appropriate Foods for Cats (Part 1)

Meet Emily Parker: Emily is a cat mom to two black cats, Gus and Louis. She is the cat expert behind, where she’s helped hundreds of thousands of pet parents love their kitties better. When she’s not writing about or researching cats, she loves to spend her time searching her neighborhood for the coolest (cat) cafes.