Wet Cat Food: More Than a Meal, a Key Ingredient for Feline Wellbeing

Feeding wet food to cats, even alongside dry kibble, can offer significant health advantages.

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Feeding wet food to cats, even alongside dry kibble, can offer significant health advantages. As descendants of desert-dwelling ancestors, domestic cats  have a naturally limited thirst drive as historically they obtained much of their hydration from prey. While domestic  cats may no longer be hunting for every meal, wet food, containing approximately 70-80% moisture, can help mimic their natural eating habits for hydration and provides numerous health benefits, which include:

Hydration

Adequate hydration is crucial for preventing dehydration and is key to overall wellbeing. On a high-moisture diet, cats can naturally consume more water through their food and compensate for a lower inclination to drink water directly from a bowl. With a high-moisture diet, cats can maintain proper hydration levels, which is essential for maintaining proper bodily functions, including digestion, temperature regulation, and urinary tract health.1

Urinary Tract Health

Cats are prone to urinary tract issues, such as the formation of crystals or stones that can lead to life-threatening conditions like urethral obstruction. While the prevention of feline lower urinary tract diseases is  multi-faceted, a high-moisture diet can help dilute the urine and increase urination, making it less conducive to crystal formation and reducing the risk of urinary tract problems. Increased moisture intake along with balanced mineral inclusion through wet food can help prevent these problems.2

Weight Management

High moisture diets can be beneficial for weight management. Wet foods generally have fewer calories per volume compared to dry food, helping to control calorie intake. The moisture can also help provide additional volume to meals, which may also help cats feel full. Wet foods generally are higher in protein than dry diets, which helps cats maintain their lean body mass during weight loss.3

Diabetes Mellitus

Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes in cats, so weight management is important to help prevent the development of feline diabetes. Diabetic cats experience polyuria/polydipsia which can lead to dehydration, and high moisture diets can help maintain their hydration. Wet diets are generally higher in protein and low in carbohydrates, which can aid in diabetes management.4

Palatability

Cats eat with their nose. Wet cat food is often more palatable because it can be more aromatic than dry kibble.5 For most cats, and especially the fussy ones, this can be especially appealing. The inclusion of wet food in various forms and flavors can encourage them to eat more and maintain proper nutrition.

Written by Dr. Danielle Bernal

Global Veterinarian, Wellness Pet Company

Citations:

  1. Gross, Kathy L., Yamka, Ryan M., Khoo, Christina, et al. Chapter 5. Macronutrients. In: Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. 5th ed. Mark Morris Institute; 2010:49-105.
  2. Buckley CMF, Hawthorne A, Colyer A, Stevenson AE. Effect of dietary water intake on urinary output, specific gravity and relative supersaturation for calcium oxalate and struvite in the cat. Br J Nutr. 2011;106(S1):S128-S130. doi:10.1017/S0007114511001875
  3. Wei A, Fascetti AJ, Villaverde C, Wong RK, Ramsey JJ. Effect of water content in a canned food on voluntary food intake and body weight in cats. Am J Vet Res. 2011;72(7):918-923. doi:10.2460/ajvr.72.7.918
  4. Sparkes AH, Cannon M, Church D, et al. ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Practical Management of Diabetes Mellitus in Cats. J Feline Med Surg. 2015;17(3):235-250. doi:10.1177/1098612X15571880
  5. Pekel AY, Mülazımoğlu SB, Acar N. Taste preferences and diet palatability in cats. J Appl Anim Res. 2020;48(1):281-292. doi:10.1080/09712119.2020.1786391
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