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Ayesha's avatar

Do you feed your cat dry food?

Asked by Ayesha (6213points) May 12th, 2012 from iPhone

I just read an article saying that dry food is the slow death of your pet. I have two Siamese and I do feed them dry food at times. Have you had a bad experience regarding your pet’s health with it?

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35 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

My son worked in a veterinarian office for two years. The vet fed their office cats dry food with no problem. I have always fed my cats dry food and never had one die because of the food.

lillycoyote's avatar

I used to feed my two cats a diet of almost entirely dry food with an occasional treat of canned food. Bugsy lived to be 18 and Caspar lived to be 21 so it certainly wasn’t a slow death. Though I did feed them Science Diet CD, I think it was CD, whatever the maintenance diet for urinary health is, from about the age of 4 because Bugsy got FUS or whatever they call it now.

thorninmud's avatar

We had a cat who lived to be 17. She refused to eat kibble, so we gave her only canned food. That created its own problems. She had bad dental and gum problems later in life because that soft diet did nothing to control plaque and tarter buildup. At the end, she developed kidney failure, not an uncommon problem in very old cats, but the vet told us that it may have been precipitated by the gum disease and the very high protein content of the canned food.

So our current pair got a mix: a once-a-day serving of canned, and a standing bowl of kibble that they could munch anytime (they prefer the canned, but will snack on the kibble to tide them over). At 12 years old, their teeth are in much better shape than those of our first cat.

But one of the two has now developed diabetes. Because kibble is higher in carbs than most canned food, she has had to go on an all-canned diet.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes. We only feed our animals grain-free, made in the USA food.

gailcalled's avatar

MIlo ate dry Felidae for a while and then started to have some tooth problems. So I now feed him a prescription dry cat food from Hill’s designed to help with plaque. The pieces are slightly larger than the Felidae. I fill the bowl with both kinds; Milo eats only the prescription pellets (which have a pleasant smell) and leaves the Felidae as garnish.

From time to time, if I open a can of organic wild salmon, I’ll give him a T. or 2 of the juice, and if he refuses to come inside, I lure him with the salmon smell.

Coloma's avatar

Yep. I feed Science Diet adult to my 3 and 6 yr. old cats with daily canned food at breakfast.
Supplemented with Gopher tartar on a regular basis. lol
A few cats have grain allergies but it is not all that common. I have had cats for my entire life and have never had issues with feeding dry food.

The pet industry/ Vets, just like the human health industry has gone into an extremely extremist mindset the last decade or so.
Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you read.

gailcalled's avatar

Edit; I typed the link for Science Diet dog food; This is for cats.

lillycoyote's avatar

Obviously my cats did fine on dried food but this is what one vet has to say. It’s an article on feeding an older cat but it seems like the attitude toward wet vs. dry food may be changing.

Over the years, most veterinarians, including me, recommended dry cat chows for all their feline clients. Vets noticed that cats on dry kibble tended to have cleaner teeth, less gum disease and less of a problem with obesity. Dry cat kibble also lacks can-liner chemicals that some veterinarians associate with hyperthyroidism (bisphenol-A). (ref)

We are less sure if that is reason enough to recommend dry diets now.

Dry cat kibble is very convenient for owners. It doesn’t smell like canned food does and it doesn’t spoil nearly as quickly as canned foods do once they are opened. It is economical and, theoretically, meets all of your pet’s nutritional needs. However, it is quite an unnatural diet for cats. Most dry cat foods are much higher in grain carbohydrates (and some in plant-based proteins) then cats were designed to eat. Some veterinarians associate the high carbohydrate content of many dry chows with susceptibility to diabetes. This has not been proven. Many dry cat foods have been sprayed with fats to make them more palatable. This fat can become rancid and unhealthy.

But the biggest potential problem is that cats eating dry diets almost never drink sufficient water to equal the hydration they would get consuming a canned or homemade diet. Some veterinarians associate this potential dehydration with kidney disease, and bladder disease (struvite/oxalate crystals). This is, again, unproven. Dry cat foods are also more susceptible to bacterial contamination (salmonella, etc.) than canned foods.


What to feed your animals is one of those things everyone has an opinion on and the opinions all seem to be different, even amoung vets so it’s kind of hard to figure out what the “best” thing to feed your animals is.

I never thought about it much with my cats. My childhood cat ate a diet of canned and dry grocery store food and wasn’t sick a day in her life and lived to be 20. My Bugsy developed urinary problems at 4, over 20 years ago when there weren’t so many foods on the market, and the Science Diet SD and CD were recommended to me by the emergency room vet and my regular vet. Those took care of the problem so I stuck with it. I stuck with the dry food because it was convenient and because they were kind of picky about it. They wouldn’t eat a whole can between them at one sitting and once it had refrigerated the left overs,even if I warmed it up they wouldn’t eat it. They lived good, long lives.

Now I have a dog and have looked into what is the best food for her and the dog world is like religion, there denominations all believe different things about food and training, various gospels and true believer who will preach their particular gospel at the drop of the hat, gurus, all of that, and many of these dog “religions” are completely contradictory to on another, like other religions. They can’t all be true but which one is the true one? You’ve got me.

A quality premium cat food, maybe a grain-free food like @SpatzieLover recommend might be a good choice be cats are strictly carnivores.

In the end, it is probably best to take your question to your vet and ask your vet about dry vs. canned food.

bolwerk's avatar

I never heard anything about dry being worse than wet, but there are definitely huge qualitative problems with all kinds of cat food. I just switched mine from dry Science Diet to dry Wellness, after buying Wellness because the store was out of SD. I thought Science Diet was pretty good, but her coat got fluffier and got a nicer luster, so I decided to stick with the more expensive Wellness. Plus, she seems to like it more.

I could see why proper canned food is healthier, but it’s also a lot more expensive.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I feed them a combo of wet and dry. I’ve heard of that being The Worst Combo EVAR!!, but it was a guy who then preceded to tell me that if I wasn’t feeding them Science Diet – aka, one of the most expensive pet food out there – I was abusing them and they would starve to death within a matter of weeks. I had had them for several years at that point.

deni's avatar

My cat can’t eat wet food or he gets superfat, so yes.

Coloma's avatar

Animals are just like people in their differing resiliency factors. Right now I know 2 cats that are 21 years old. Both are females, both subsist on what I would consider substandard, cheap cat foods, and one is a barn cat that has never been let in her entire life. She sleeps on a blanket in the hay. Yes, both are spayed.

Google ” Creme Puff” the one of the worlds oldest cats that died at age 38. The owners claimed they fed her mostly bacon and eggs, asparagus and broccoli. lol

Another, can;t remember the source was an english cat that died at 30 something giving birth to like her 34th litter of kittens….OMG!

augustlan's avatar

I do, and at the moment it’s just Purina Kitten Chow, which my vet says is absolutely fine. They get an occasional can of tuna or chicken, and always at least the juice from those when we eat the meat.

Adagio's avatar

My cat, Lucy, is fed entirely on canned cat food, and not the expensive gourmet variety either, she is healthy, happy, not overweight and come September she will be 15.

woodcutter's avatar

Mostly dry with a can of wet as something for variety. and whatever they manage to swipe off the counter.

hearkat's avatar

We’ve always fed our cats dry. Growin up in the 70s and 80s, those all live into their late teens or even early 20s. I never heard of diabetic cats or kidney failure until the late 90s and since. I feed our cats now Blue Buffalo Wilderness dry – I just now see that they havecanned too, and may get some for treats. I was giving Fancy Feast Appetizers for treats. We make sure they have plenty of water and give them fresh bowls frequently, and they seem to drink a lot.

Bellatrix's avatar

I have always fed my cat a mixed diet. Wet and dry food. My previous cats were 18 and 17 when they died. They do seem to love dry food but I think it is bad for their kidneys to eat too much of it so I give them a mix.

Facade's avatar

I feed my cat both wet and dry food.

rooeytoo's avatar

More vets are saying that the same is true for animals as is true for humans, the less processed food you eat, the better. That said since dry food was introduced ? years ago most people have fed it because of convenience, price and at the time, the assumption that it was indeed “balanced” and healthy for your pet. Many vets still say that especially the ones who sell a particular brand of food and because in veterinary school, until recently, little attention was paid to nutrition.

I think a bit of dry won’t hurt and is good for dental health but if I had a cat its primary food source would be preservative free, additive free and artificial color free raw meat and bones. That is what my dogs eat and I feed my human family the same way. Well except for the raw part, I cook our meat. I mean that we eat real food that will rot. If a food can sit on the shelf for months or years it is most likely highly processed and full of chemicals. Nothing I want to put into my body.

Bellatrix's avatar

We were feeding our cat the commercially available raw, minced kangaroo meat until the scandal about the stuff being loaded with preservatives broke. I haven’t managed to find another good source. I am thinking of getting a mincer and mincing it ourselves. Except roo is very low in fat so I would probably have to add some to it.

lillycoyote's avatar

It’s really difficult. All cats are different. Some of them you can feed just about anything and they will be just fine. Like my cat growing up. She ate grocery store food and lived to be twenty. When Bugsy was diagnosed with whatever they call FUS now, I took him to the emergency vet hospital because he basically peed blood all over the white tile floor of my bathroom, an image burned into my brain forever, when the emergency vet asked me what I was feeding him and I told just whatever it was I was getting at the grocery store he reacted like I had told him I was feeding my cat broken glass.

I think the most important thing is to keep an eye on your cat for any signs of any health problems and get regular vet visits. Talk to your vet about what your cat should eat. With something like FUS, that is something male cats get really, you don’t have to worry so much with a female cat, so the diet for a male cat perhaps should be different from a female cat, in order to prevent urinary tract problems. And as cats age, they may develop health issues that require a change of diet.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Bellatrix – what scandal is that and when did it happen? I wonder if it was localized in your area, I was not aware of it. When I couldn’t find a good source of pet quality roo I would buy people quality at Woolies. It was not cheap, I think about 7.99 a kilo but for feeding a cat, a kilo would probably last a good while. I do think though, just roo or just any meat alone would not suffice. A wild cat eats whole mice who have eaten assorted grains, etc. This guy makes an excellent additive to raw diets.

Regarding your mincer, I refuse to buy commercially minced meats. You have no idea what is in there! We mince all of our own chicken, beef and occasionally pork. It tastes much better and you know exactly the fat content and what went in.

Bellatrix's avatar

It was about a year ago I think… it was a branded product being sold at supermarkets as fresh roo mince but pets were dying because there was such a high level of preservatives in the meat or something. I stopped buying it because it wasn’t worth the risk. I think this story is covering the same thing.

I don’t eat roo meat or only eat it in steak form. I did think of just asking the butcher to mince me some up from pure kangaroo but you are right, you never know what they might add in to it. I might just buy a mincer and look at that site you suggested.

I don’t mind about the cost so much as we only have one cat and he doesn’t eat huge amounts of food. Thanks for the suggestions.

Kayak8's avatar

My 19 year old cat, Owen, has only ever eaten dry food . . .

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Our family cat is 17 yrs old. Up until a year ago, all it ever ate was dry kibble. It eats wet food with dry kibble snacks now because it’s appetite is waning. No health problems, no tooth problems and it usually got store brand rather than vet brands.

rooeytoo's avatar

It reminds me of the fact that there were many people who smoked their entire lives and never contracted lung cancer, there are people who drink everyday and don’t get sclerosis, there are people who eat fried foods and processed foods every day but don’t have a heart attack or diabetes. But it has now been determined that all these things are bad for you. The same is true of processed foods for animals and humans, it is not going to kill everyone and there are many who will live to a ripe old age while eating them, but it is only common sense that something natural and unchemicalized has to be better for you than something chock full of chemicals, ground up and reconstituted with glue, sprayed with fat and artifical color to make it look better to humans and more palatable to critters. So you have to make your own choices for yourself and your animals.

Coloma's avatar

@rooeytoo True, to a degree, but…wouldn’t cheap cat food be better than no food? I think a starving cat would choose dry food over boney little birds that he can only catch one out of 20 tries. A cat with a decent home eating less than perfect food is still preferable to a feral cat that has no regular source of food.
Same goes for humans, a homeless person is not going to be concerned with their cholesterol levels if someone hands them a Big Mac. lol

Gotta play devils advocate ya know. ;-)

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rooeytoo's avatar

@Coloma – well I agree that if an animal is starving, it will eat almost anything. And if dry food is all you can afford, of course you would feed that. But if you are debating what is the best way to feed your pet, then I think it is a no brainer, the same as for humans, feed them real food. I try to avoid eating dried up pellets of reconstituted stuff myself, although I do love some fried Spam once a month or so!

lilyhappy99's avatar

Once I fed it dry food. But I find that the cat is now so clever that she doesn’t eat any dry food especially when there is no meat.

LittleLemon's avatar

While plenty of cats live to be old while eating dry food, there is a huge difference between “surviving” and “thriving”. It’s as simple as the human food industry debate. No one in their right mind could say that McDonald’s is healthy for you, but do we die from it? Some do, some don’t. There are exceptions to everything – it just matters what your budget is and how much you’re willing to go the extra mile for your cat. Ideally, raw, unrendered meat would be cheap for our animals, and the vets and food industry would be backing them. Unfortunately, they’re not. So until they do (ie. Until they make a profit off of expensive ingredients in leui of cheap grains and fillers that your cat doesn’t know how to digest), plenty of people (including me, not too long ago) will go on thinking that Hill’s Science Diet dry food is the creme de la creme, when in reality, it’s a marketing ploy to get you to spend more money on a product that’s dehydrating and fattening up your cat. The dry cat food industry might as well be selling us meat-flavored cereal.

rooeytoo's avatar

If you are interested in pet nutrition and/or nutrition in general, this is a very interesting study,
Pottingers cats

What @LittleLemon says is so true, the same can be said of smoking.

LittleLemon's avatar

All that to say I smoke like a fiend and eat processed food, but my cat is like my baby!

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