Originally Posted by Ping
I have noticed this question seems to be coming up more often and I thought a discuss on this might be good.
I know there are people that are opposed to a wet diet only and I know there are people that are opposed to a dry diet only. I never really quite understood the extremes.
When Ping first came into our lives three years ago I tried to do everything everyone else said about feeding. I did the all wet and never dry. I never really liked this because I never felt that he got enough food and he always seemed to be starving on just 2 meals a day. So then I went to the extreme of an all dry diet but did not like that because he never really drank water even though I had a water dish out at all times.
It was then that I made changes that has worked well for us and that was a combination of the two. Wet food twice a day and I rotate the different types (from more expensive things like Eagle Pack to less expensive things like Meow Mix cups) and a cat fountain. Ping became a happier less starving cat and drank more water and I was a more happy momma.
Occasionally I will get a small amount of raw beef chucks for them (we have 3 cats now).
I guess in the end I came to believe that you have to do whats best for your home and what works. Extremes do not work for everyone or every situation.
Now I was wondering if anyone else would like to share their thoughts.
I am one of the advocates of a raw or (if not possible) a high quality wet (canned) diet for cats. Either way, I discourage dry kibble.
I have a few reasons for this, and before I get into them, I should say that they're all based on GENERALITIES and there are always exceptions to general statements (i.e, there's always going to be a cat that lived to be 24 off 100% dry kibble, and there's always going to be the cat that never had any health problems off kibble, and there's always going to be the cat that drinks water like crazy and refuses all wet food, etc, etc.)
I advocate a raw (preferably) or a high quality canned wet diet because:
- IN GENERAL, cats do not drink a lot of water, so they rely on their food for water in-take. Dry food contains almost NO water. A cat that eats 100% dry kibble would need to consume about 1 1/4 cups of water in order to stay properly hydrated, and no cat that I've ever heard of (even the really water-loving ones) drink THAT much a day. Dehydration leads to problems like UTIs and other bladder/kidney infections that plague many cats.
- IN GENERAL, dry food contains some amount of grain or plant-derived "fillers" to hold the kibble together which contributes to a high carbohydrate load which is totally unnecesscary for a cat. Cats, as carnivores, do not digest or store carbohydrates very well and cannot readily utilize them in their bodies. In the wild, their carb in-take would equal less than 10% -- but in many commercial dry cat foods, the carb percentage usually ranges between 20-50%, the higher end being the cheapest of cat foods. Too many carbs in a cat's diet leads to fat cats, and problems with obestity, feline diabetes, liver & stomach problems, grain allergies, and numerous other problems.
- IN GENERAL, the grain "fillers" used in dry food (mentioned above) can be problematic for cats, not only for allergy reasons, but nutritionally, too. Corn is the #1 ingredient in some of the cheapest dry cat foods. Beyond that, it's wheat gluten, soy, rice, barley, oat, and different grain-based flours and brans. No cat is designed to eat meat-flavored cereal, which is what some brands are equal to nutritonally speaking. Other brands of cat food, even high quality ones, may contain some source of grain - but even if they don't, they likely rely on vegetables and fruit deritivities to supply necesscary nurtients. These nutrients can come from animal sources, too - it's just cheaper to produce them from plant-based sources - which, unfortunately, are not as useful to a cat.
- Dehydrated meat pellets just isn't a natural state of food for a cat. Raw wet meat and bones is.
Barring that, wet cooked meat is the second best option... which would be home-made cooked and commercial canned, in that order.
- There is a LONG debate about dental health in cats who eat dry vs. those who eat wet. In short, it is thought that those who eat dry have cleaner teeth because they chew their food - vs. those who eat wet (particularly pate style canned foods) as they slurp down their food without using their teeth, causing them to rot and fall out.
Studies done on this show very little difference between cats who are fed dry & those fed wet. A cat who eats kibble is likely to swallow kibble bits whole - and when they are chewed, the sugars and starches cause bacteria (plaque) to form around the teeth anyway. Dry food has been compared to eating a pretzel, and the feeling of pretzel stuck in your teeth afterward. Dry food is not a replacement for bone. Cats who chew bone and eat raw meat in the wild experience healthier teeth because it acts as a natural 'toothbrush'. Domestic cats who are not fed raw bone and chunks of meat need regular toothbrushing to maintain healthy teeth.
- Cats who are "free fed" kibble may not take to eating canned food, or other foods, as kibble will be their "go to" food if ever invited to try something new. They may become quite addicted to it. They also have a higher chance of becoming overweight if they do not naturally regulate their food consumption (so many cats are gluttons!)
I'm not ANTI kibble, so much as I am PRO wet food for cats. At least for a main meal. If used at all, kibble should only be used as a rare snack or treat, IMO -- but let's face it - not every cat is the same, and I know many cat owners who feed 100% dry kibble because their cats REFUSE to eat anything else. What else can you do??? Choose the BEST dry kibble you can afford, in that case. (The best dry kibble I know of is Wellness CORE.) And make sure your cat is drinking PLENTY of water.
If you have a cat that WILL eat canned (or better yet, raw meat & bones if possible), I do believe it is better than kibble -- if feeding canned, opt for a high quality canned, like Wellness, because low quality canned, while still better than low quality dry food IMO, is still pretty bad and full of fillers, too.
My 4 year old cat was probably raised on low-quality kibble & canned. I adopted him a month ago, and transitioned him from low quality canned & kibble to high quality canned & kibble, to 100% high quality canned, to 100% raw. He's doing great, and I have to yell the benefits of raw whenever I possibly can because I can see it's made such a difference already. He is so much healthier, shinier, more active, fresher smelling.. it's just incredible. Even the difference between 100% high quality canned and 100% raw is amazing.....
Because I feed raw, and this is a general discussion about wet and dry food (commercial and non-commercial) -- I cannot even get into the problems with the commercial pet food industry.... another topic for another time, but somewhat related.....