Canned Food vs. Dry Food
AUTHOR: Kim Hurley
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Cats are true carnivores, requiring a meat-based diet for optimal health. Adult cats need 2-3 times more protein than dogs. Their natural diet is prey, such as rodents, rabbits, lizards, insects, and birds. This prey consists primarily of water (65-70%), protein, and fat, with less than 10% carbohydrates (starch, sugar, and fiber). Dry diets are unnatural for them. Our feline friends descended from desert-dwelling wild cats well adapted to limited water resources. Their kidneys can extract most of their moisture needs from their natural prey. So it would make sense when feeding our feline friend that the most logical plan is to provide the diet that most closely mimics the natural prey diet.
Another reason for a diet similar to its natural prey diet is variety. A hunting cat doesn't one day decide to eat only rabbits! They will eat any small prey they can catch. Feeding the same dry food every day can increase the risk of developing food intolerance, allergies, or inflammatory bowel disease. The high heat used in processing dry food damages the proteins in the food. With canned food, it's easy to vary the protein sources, textures, and flavors.
In addition to variety, canned food promotes overall better hydration.
A cat eating exclusively dry food gets only half the moisture of one eating a canned food diet. This can cause chronic dehydration. They are not very efficient at drinking water in the first place. One lap with their tongue only gets 3/100 of a teaspoon!!
This lack of fluid intake may be a factor in kidney disease and significantly contributes to bladder issues like UTIs, crystals, stones, and cystitis.
If your cat is not used to eating canned food, add it to the diet slowly in small amounts. It could cause a tummy upset at first. If it won't eat canned food, it's usually because of dry food addiction or because it isn't hungry enough to try something new. Start by putting the cat on a meal-feeding schedule, leaving dry food out only an hour at a time, 2-3 times a day. Once your kitty becomes accustomed to the new plan, put a little canned food down first. Most of them will be willing to try it at this point.
Quality is essential with canned food as with any other type of food. Always read the labels and look for the first ingredients. Meats such as chicken, turkey, lamb, duck, rabbit, or beef should be prominent. In canned foods, water will be high on the list of ingredients. Dry food is a great convenience and may be necessary in very few cases. But at least 50% of the diet (preferably 100% if you want to ensure optimum health) should be a high-protein, high-moisture, low-carb diet.
Your cat will be healthier, and while you'll spend a little more on food upfront, you'll save on veterinary bills! You may even be surprised at saving a little money on cat food when your feline friend's appetite begins to be satisfied with the proper high-protein diet it instinctively craves.
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