A common question that cat lovers ask is, "What is the best way to feed a cat?" Veterinarians frequently get questions about the benefits and issues of canned vs. dry cat food. We created an article to cover just this topic and addressed it as the pros and cons of canned vs. dry food. To read this article, go to What are the Pros and Cons of Canned Vs. Dry Cat Food?
Now, I'll tell you what I believe is the best way to feed a cat. I like to use a combination of both dry AND canned.
Cats are natural nibblers. They prefer to have frequent small meals throughout the day if given the opportunity. Cats are also very good at hiding that they are ill and one of the first signs they will show is lack of appetite. The problem with dry food (especially for those of you that keep the bowl full) is that it is hard to know if, when or what a cat is eating - especially if the bowl is kept full and ESPECIALLY if you have more than one cat. (For more tips on how to tell if your cat is sick - go to How to Tell if Your Cat is Sick.)
So, let me tell you what I think is the ideal way to feed your cat. (This works great if you have more than one cat and they are able to maintain a fairly ideal body weight.)
Leave dry food down and feed a small amount of canned or pouched food twice a day. This allows the cat to nibble and also give you the ability to assess their behavior, energy level, interest and appetite during the moist food feedings.
If you have a cat that normally comes RUNNING for the canned or pouch food and one day is under the table with no interest - there is a problem.
If you only had dry food down on the floor, it may take you two more days to notice that your cat is not acting right or not eating. By this time, a problem could be seriously advanced.
Think of offering the canned food as an opportunity to really assess your cat's appetite, attitude and health.