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Is Dry Food Really Good for Cats?

Is Dry Food Really Good for Cats?

A friend said to me “I heard that feeding only dry food to a cat causes kidney issues’. So I decided to debunk that myth and do a little digging to see where in the world he heard that. I checked social- Facebook and Twitter- and the answer to where he got that  was there. BUT, not the facts to back that up. 

Cats are carnivores. 

Dry food is mostly carbohydrates and no moisture. Cats’ instinctual diet is made up of small creatures like lizards, mice, birds, and insects which are mostly made up of moisture and protein with relatively low carbohydrates and almost zero fat. Studies have shown that cats are less efficient at metabolizing carbohydrates. These studies speculate that the dry food diets made of mostly carbs may have negative  effects on the health of some cats. 

The most important parts of a kitty’s diet:

Diet is so important to the health and well-being of cats and dogs and the type of food you choose for them is a life-long decision. Kidney issues are caused by several things: age, genetics, cancers, toxins, medication side effects, and poor diets among other medical conditions too numerous to mention.  

Water consumption, AKA moisture, is the key to a healthy well-balanced diet.  Feeding dry has some benefits if done with balance. Dry can slightly help keep dental tartar in check.  It’s easier for you to serve when you have long hours away and it doesn’t smell or attract bugs when you leave it down too long. Let’s briefly discuss some reasons one would only feed dry and when you should consider all canned or a  mixture of dry and canned. What brand of food to choose when making a decision varies with each unique situation.  

When to feed dry or wet food:

  • If you are feeding a colony of cats then giant bags of economical dry food is the way to go. Ample amounts of clean water daily will help avoid issues caused by the lack of moisture in dry only diets. Will low quality dry only food cause issues? Maybe, but not as much as not feeding the cats at all will.
  • If you feed outdoor cats and barn cats, dry good quality food is optimal. Again, with ample amounts of fresh clean water daily. 
  • If you have an indoor pet, consider choosing a canned with an occasional cup of dry, good quality food. The dry can stay out all day (free choice) or in an automatic feeder and the canned can be given once or twice a day as an expected full meal. 
  • In cases of bugs there are dishes made to keep ants away if they are part of your decision as well as good quality foods that don’t have pungent odors. 

Again, water is of utmost importance. A fresh dish of water daily is best. Some cats prefer a low dish to hunker down, (instinctually) but some prefer a bucket, a dripping sink or a red solo cup. If they come to the shower when you are in there, there is a chance they want water that is running. Fountains are for motivating them to drink. 

So is dry food good for cats? Yes… as part of a balanced and high quality diet it can be. Water and moist food is a must in the cat’s diet. When searching for a high quality food, check with your veterinarian and the staff to see what their preferences are.  Make sure you learn the water consumption choice of your kitty and adapt the house accordingly. You can’t change a cat’s mind- we all know that is not a myth. 

Sources for further reading: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387258/

https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&catId=102902&id=9063758

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