What is the best way to feed a cat?

Our question this week was:

I’ve heard many different opinions on wet vs. dry food. My vet says that dry helps to keep their teeth healthy, but I’ve read that this may lead to dehydration. I’ve also read that dry food is lacking some nutrients. My cats eat high quality dry food, and I’ve cut their wet food down to just a spoonful a day. What’s the best way to feed your cat?

Rebecca West


Hi – thanks for your email. I will give you my personal preference on how to feed cats. There are pros and cons to feeding dry or canned only. Many clients believe that dry food is better for their teeth. Canned food has more water content and can be better for the urinary health of cats.

I think the ideal way to feed a cat is a little bit of both. For cats that maintain their ideal weight, leaving dry food out and offering a small amount of canned food twice a day is ideal. Feeding the canned food allows you to have the opportunity to observe your cat and ensure that he or she feels good enough to eat. It also allows them to get the extra “water” that is beneficial. Cats like to nibble frequently and having the dry food down and continuously available allows them to eat as they want.

Not wanting to eat is often the first sign of illness in cats and if they don’t eat their canned food, you can identify the problem earlier then if you feed only dry and can’t tell when and if they are eating.

Always offer fresh clean water and encourage your cat to drink.

An article that might be helpful to you is Feeding Cats: Canned or Dry and How Often?.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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