Recommendations for feeding your cat have changed over the years. I can remember when the only choice was canned Puss N’ Boots. Then came the dry food revolution, and we swung from a high moisture diet to the opposite end of the scale. Now we know that some canned food should be included in your cat’s diet every day.
There are many reasons why veterinarians are asking owners to feed some canned food daily. Domestic cats evolved in a desert environment and their bodies are geared to get much of their water through their prey. They are designed to eat wet things. When we feed them only dry food, we expect that they will drink the difference and that is not always the case. Cats can have very concentrated urine and even a little less moisture intake can put them at risk for bladder problems. Getting them to drink regularly is more challenging than you think. Most cats will drink from bowls, but some want the toilet, shower, tap, pond, etc. You need to watch your cat’s drinking behavior and give them water in a way that appeals to them.
Most people think that canned food is a treat for cats, but we know that if you don’t give your cat wet food on a regular basis, they may get fixated on the texture of dry food and not accept wet food at all. When cats like moist food, it can make things easier should they get ill and are not eating well. There is a greater selection of flavors and textures to offer and the small 85 gm tin size means fresh portions. Some cats will even take their medication in the wet food. Another concern is that their teeth will have issues if they only eat wet. Many cats that eat dry food have bad teeth, so the jury’s still out. The only dry foods that have proven benefits for teeth are veterinary dental diets, so feeding a small amount of a prescription dental food as a dry food choice is a good idea.
Most adult cats need roughly 1/2 cup (volume) of food per day, but this does vary depending on body type, age and activity. If they were only eating wet, this translates to ~165 grams, or 2 of the smallest tins (85 grams) of wet food per day. I recommend cats get offered at least 1 small tin (85 grams) of good quality wet food daily, and then balance off with 1/4 cup of a good quality dry food (i.e. Dental diets from the veterinarian). You could certainly do more wet and less dry if you’d like. Feed the wet separately from the kibble. If your kitty seems fussy, try different varieties in both flavor and texture. Watch for any signs of intolerance such as gas, soft stools or vomiting. If everything is fine, keep up the daily routine.
If your cat will not eat moist food, all is not lost. Usually, they don’t like it because of the texture. You can train them to accept the texture by very gradually adding a small amount of wet food to a tablespoon of their dry food and offer it as a separate food item. The goal is to slowly up the moisture content until it is an acceptable texture for you cat.