While researching another post I’m working on, I saw an article about how dry kibble is a better food alternative to wet cat food because it can easily be bought in bulk and makes less mess when cats eat it. I was fuming after reading that! It’s wildly irresponsible to make these claims, especially on the basis of ease for the owner and worse still, that it’s more natural.
Cat kibble was designed to be the cat version of dog kibble. There is nothing natural about it. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies can only metabolize meat. From meat, their bodies are able to generate all the vital nutrients they need to thrive. Their teeth are designed for tearing flesh, not crunching on kibble. Interesting fact: Cats don’t naturally chew.
So why was I so mad? It wasn’t that his article was misguided, but that it was leading people away from a healthy cat food, to one that is less so. Not to say that feeding kibble is unhealthy! Just that not feeding wet food CAN be. The problem lies in cat ancestry.
Wild cats live in deserts and are able to conserve water well enough to have a low thirst drive, meaning that wild cats are able to spend their time hunting and sleeping, instead of wasting valuable energy on looking for scarce water sources. This low thirst drive was maintained in the domestic cat.
It’s why the veterinarian I worked for used to complain that most cats live their lives consistently dehydrated, which can lead to health issues like kidney disease. He advises clients to incorporate wet food to combat this.
If your cat is a picky eater and won’t warm up to wet food, there are a number of things you can try. Drastic change is usually not tolerated, so try mixing a small amount of wet food into their preferred kibble as a soft intro to wet food.
For my cat, Trout, texture matters! We have experimented with shreds, cuts, flakes, and patè. He kind of sucks, because on any given day his preference for texture will change. We keep a cabinet full of the various textures in preparation for these mood swings (smh). If even after experimenting with all the different textures (and flavors), you still don’t find one that strikes your cat’s fancy then it’s time to accept defeat.
So now would be a good time to look into moisture content. Different brands will have different levels of moisture in their kibble, but even the “wettest” dry food is still dry. Try adding small amounts of water to the kibble, but not too much!
Remember, it’s important not to adjust your cat’s food drastically because this can cause kitty to go on a hunger strike. Hunger strikes (especially in obese cats) can lead to fatty liver disease, which can be very serious.
Luckily, there are ways to encourage your cat to drink. A fountain style water bowl entices cats with sound and allows them to drink easily without getting noses and whiskers wet, which is super annoying for cats.
A similar strategy is to leave a faucet lightly running. If you aren’t looking to run to the store for an expensive water fountain or leave your tap running, you can try filling your cat’s water dish to the brim. This is another good way to help kitty keep his nose dry and his whiskers from hitting the sides of the bowl (yet another super annoying thing).
Before I go back to my research, I will say dry food has its place in your cat’s food dish. Wet food alone can cause a gunky build-up on your cat’s teeth, which leads to tooth decay and gingivitis. Crunchy dry food can help to reduce this build-up. Healthy teeth are a vital part of your cat’s overall health.