Secrets to Good Feline Health—#1
Secret #1: Tinned food vs. dry food
There is some controversy in cat food and whether tinned or “wet” food is better than dry. While any well balanced ration will meet your cat’s nutrient needs, there are a few points in favour of canned foods. Tinned cat food typically contains 70 to 80 percent moisture, while dry cat food typically contains five to 10 percent moisture. If you have a cat that needs to consume more water, such as a cat with bladder stones or crystals, feeding a wet food may be a good way of getting that water into her. Cats are notoriously poor drinkers, and allowing cats to get a portion (in some cases half) of their daily water requirement through their food can be very helpful.
Wet foods tend to have fewer grains or carbohydrates added to them and tend to be higher in protein than dry foods. Since cats are carnivores, it’s very important for them to have protein from animal sources. One argument in favour of a kibble-based diet is that it is better for a cat’s dental health; however, unless you’re purchasing a specific dental diet kibble, most dry foods do not provide enough abrasion to prevent tartar build up on teeth. If this is a concern for your cat, talk to your vet about options for oral hygiene.
Dry foods also tend to be left out and fed “free-choice” to cats, which can contribute to weight gain. Excess consumption, even just a few extra kibbles each day, combined with the higher proportion of carbohydrates present in dry food are not conducive to keeping your cat slim. It can sometimes be difficult to compare a wet food to a dry food because the high moisture level in wet foods makes them appear to be lower in the other nutrients. A little bit of math can allow you to make an accurate comparison of a wet vs a dry food by factoring out the water (see sidebar above). For example, a wet food that is 82 percent moisture and has a protein level of 11 percent, actually contains protein at 61 percent on a dry basis. A dry food with a protein level of 32 percent and a moisture guarantee of 10 percent, only contains 36 percent protein on a dry matter basis. Both wet and dry foods can provide a nutritionally balanced diet and each has advantages in certain situations, so it really comes down to individual choice. Dry foods are convenient and do allow for greater flexibility for busy owners, while wet foods have a preferable protein to carb ratio, as well as some other benefits, especially for cats with health issues, such as urinary crystals. If possible, at least part of your cat’s diet should come from a canned food.
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