While there aren’t two dueling teams — one for dry food and one for wet food — the topic is heavily debated. The best answer is always to speak with your veterinarian to see what’s best for your cat. Similar to humans, a cat’s food choices are going to be different based on what works for their body and what their body needs. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both a dry and wet food diet.
Exploring a dry food diet.
Some cat owners will rely on a strictly dry food diet because dry food is cheaper, easier to preserve, and easy to leave out for the day, so your cat can feed herself whenever she gets hungry. Though there’s been some debate, many also believe that certain dry foods can help a cat’s teeth and dental hygiene. Still, dry food is not a substitute for oral hygiene, and it’s important to make sure that you’re not using dry food as a substitute for dental care (read this article for more on how to treat your cat’s teeth right).
One of the main concerns about dry food is that it doesn’t contain moisture or high water content, and cats tend to not drink as much water as they should (another instance of Cats! They’re just like us!). H2O keeps your cat hydrated and can benefit cats with kidney problems or lower urinary tract disease. However, if you have a perfectly healthy cat who mainly eats dry food, you can also be sure that your cat is drinking a lot of water by investing in a fun cat water fountain, or making sure their water bowl is always filled and fresh.
Exploring a wet food diet.
As mentioned above, it’s important to consider incorporating wet food if your cat has kidney problems, doesn’t drink a lot of water, or is a picky eater. Many cats seem to find wet food more palatable. Also, wet food benefits cats with kidney or urinary tract infection issues since wet food is about 75 percent water, whereas dry food is only about 10 percent water. Though some studies show that canned wet food helps cats develop strong muscles, it’s important to note that there isn’t enough research to confidently state that a canned diet can prevent these symptoms. However, some veterinarians do warn that insufficient moisture in the diet may increase the risk of crystals or stones in a cat’s urinary tract.
Exploring a happy medium of wet and dry food.
Many cat owners have decided to incorporate the best of both worlds and use mainly dry food with about a half can of wet food daily. That way, your cat can enjoy the benefits of both foods and have some variety in her diet. It’s always best to see how your cat reacts and what they seem to be enjoying. Take your cues from your furry friend and trust that she knows what’s best for her body when you lay all of the options out in front of her.
Cats & milk.
There are many images out there of cats lapping up a special treat of milk. Although this is an adorable visual, it’s largely false: Most cats are lactose intolerant and don’t have the enzymes necessary to break down lactase, which is found in milk.1
It’s true that not all cats are lactose intolerant, but a majority of cats are, and there’s virtually no way to tell if your cat is intolerant or tolerant without giving him or her a taste test, and possibly getting them sick in the process.
Let’s explore when it’s okay to dish out some milk and when it may be harmful to your furry friend.
What’s with the myth?
Cats are very fond of cream. While cream often rises to the top and is desired by cats for its fat content, most milk that you find in your supermarket today contains little fat, and while it may be tasty, it’s very difficult for cats to digest.
So, a treat of milk might very shortly turn into the runs for your kitty. But what about when kittens are born? Don’t they drink milk from their mothers?
Kittens vs. cats.
When cats are young kittens, they are typically reliant on their mothers for nourishment — and that means mama’s milk. However, as they grow kittens begin to lose the lactase enzyme that allows them to digest the lactose found in milk.1
If your kitten is young enough to be bottle-fed, don’t go for cow’s milk as a replacement. Instead, find a kitten-specific formula,2 which has all the nutrients necessary for a growing kitten.
Alternatives to milk.
If you want your kitty to be hydrated and have a productive digestive system, allowing her to drink water is always the best choice.3 Aside from wet food, cats typically don’t get enough water in their diet and can be prone to dehydration and other underlying diseases that are associated with not drinking enough water.
If you want to make water a bit more enticing for your cat, consider purchasing a fun cat water fountain, or simply let the faucet drip and have your cat drink from the bathroom tap — under supervision, of course.
What about almond milk? Though you may be tempted to run out and buy almond milk for your cat, this also isn’t recommended.4 It’s true that almond milk doesn’t contain lactose, but almond milk does contain — you guessed it — almonds.
Cats may be sensitive to certain nuts, which can also cause stomach problems. So, if you’re seeking an alternative milk treat, we recommend lactose-free milk, which is usually available at pet stores and grocery stores.
This milk may be a safe treat for lactose-intolerant kitty cats (and humans if you so desire) to enjoy from time to time since the lactose is removed. At the pet store, you’ll also find cat-specific milks that are an acceptable and safe treat.
1. Why cats and cow’s milk don’t mix. (n.d.). https://www.prestigeanimalhospital.com/services/cats/blog/why-cats-and-cows-milk-dont-mix
2. Recipes for homemade kitten formula. (2019). https://kittenrescue.org/2017/03/recipes-emergency-kitten-formula/
3. Huston L. (n.d.). How to get a cat to drink water. https://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/nutrition/slideshows/does-you-cat-drink-enough-water
4. Wooten S. (2018). Can kittens drink milk? https://www.petmd.com/news/view/can-kittens-drink-milk-37852
Every kitty deserves a tasty little treat, especially when you’re trying out clicker training. But buying all those treats can add up. We’ve got ways for you to make your own cat treats, right in your own kitchen — without burning out your wallet.
But first things first: Make sure you consult our article about human foods that are safe for cats.
- Make treats that'll last weeks. If you’ve got canned salmon, eggs and rice flour, then you’ve got all of the ingredients you need to make delicious treats for your furball. These 3 ingredient salmon cat treats from our pals at Pawsome Treats are super easy to whip up and dish out. Plus, you can safely refrigerate your leftovers in an airtight container and share for up to two weeks.
- Have leftover human food? Instead of tossing your leftovers, you may be able to feed them to your feline friend. Cats love to eat grains — such as brown rice, barley
andwheat berries — as long as the grains are mashed up first. Cats also enjoy cheese and, of course, any variety of fish. So, before you toss your takeout, save the best bits for your fuzzball as a special treat.
- Let the goodies keep rolling. Don’t toss your toilet paper rolls. Instead, tuck treats into these cardboard cylinders. Just make sure you fold down one end (not both, otherwise your furball won’t be able to claw her way to the treats!) of the cardboard so she can play with one end and take the treat out of the other end. This engages Kitty’s hunting instincts and rewards her at the same time.
Treat her right.
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