It’s that time!
Your cat is darting around and occasionally stopping just to prod you with her eyes, or she has become particularly affectionate. She’s saying “Come on, it’s 6:01 PM. My dinner should be here as of one minute ago.”
So, you go to the pantry, crack open a can of Friskies, and set it down. As Whiskers begins chowing down, an important question dawns on you: should I be giving her all that?
It’s never seemed to cause any sort of issue. But still, you wonder, how much wet food should a cat really be eating?
How Much Wet Food Should I Feed My Cat?
A veterinarian will always provide the most accurate answer to the question of “How much food should I give my cat?”. This is because the exact amount of food a cat should consume every day depends on a variety of factors, including their age, physical health, weight, activity levels, body condition score, and more.
However, you can use the nutrition guidelines outlined by The National Research Council to get a general idea of how many calories you should feed your cat per day and then adjust their serving sizes appropriately.
Most cat food labels also provide feeding recommendations that are acceptable to use. There’s also a generally accepted rule of thumb that says to feed your cat one, three-ounce can of wet cat food every day per every three to three-and-a-half pounds of body weight.
Regardless of how you determine how much wet food to feed your cat, make sure to observe any changes in your cat’s eating habits or weight that come up. If your cat begins to appear disinterested at mealtime or if they lose weight, then consider switching brands or even switching them to dry kibble. However, you’ll need to slowly switch your cat’s food over a period of about seven days if you want to guarantee a smooth transition.
How to Serve Wet Cat Food
Although successfully serving wet cat food seems pretty self-explanatory, there are some additional considerations to take into account.
First, you’ll want to make sure you serve wet cat food at room temperature. Cats and humans differ in that cats don’t like it when any of their food is cold. If you refrigerate your wet cat food, leave it out for between 15 and 20 minutes to let it come up to room temperature before you put it down.
If your cat is transitioning from dry to wet food, you may want to top their dish with a few small shreds of cooked chicken or fish to encourage them to eat. Also, try mixing her wet food with bits of dry food. But remember to consult your brand’s website for further instructions on how to safely combine wet and dry food!
If your cat only finishes half a can of wet food, don’t worry! You can safely store opened cans of wet cat food for up to five days in the refrigerator. Unopened cans, on the other hand, can last for up to two years in the pantry.
Is Wet Cat Food Better Than Dry Cat Food?
Experts haven’t reached a clear conclusion on whether or not wet cat food is definitely better for cats to consume than dry food. However, there is consensus on a general list of reasons that wet cat food can be beneficial to incorporate into your cat’s diet:
Benefits of Wet Cat Food
Wet Food Keeps Your Cat Hydrated
Cats don’t like still or unmoving water sources. In nature, they grew to recognize still water as a breeding ground for insects and other harmful pests. Instead, most cats prefer to hydrate from fresh, flowing water. Unfortunately, their little sandpapery tongues aren’t very efficient at getting water into their mouths. This means it can be easy for cats to inadvertently not drink enough water and leave themselves dehydrated.
Thankfully, wet cat food is between 70% and 80% water, making it an excellent source of water for your feline friend. Besides literally helping keep your cat alive, this added water also supports kidney function and dilutes your cat’s pee to prevent urinary tract crystals or stones from forming.
Wet Food is Low in Carbs
Most wet cat food is very high in protein because it’s primarily made from fresh meat products, whereas dry food is mostly made from corn, wheat, meat and bone meal, and other additives. Thanks to this high protein content, wet cat food can help your cat retain muscle mass into their senior years.
Additionally, a high-protein diet is shown to promote lean body mass development and maintenance. Given that your cat’s lean body mass consists of its muscles, ligaments, bones, organs, and more (all of which must be kept healthy for your cat to, well…live!) we think this is a pretty big plus.
Plus, research on cat dieting has also shown that the extra water in wet cat food makes your kitty feel fuller, faster, leading to them eating less.
Wet Food Gives Their Diet Some Variety
Although some cats grow to be neophobes as a result of continually eating the same things as kittens, other cats can actually get bored with their food. Luckily, wet cat food seems to stave off this boredom. With so many different textures and flavors to choose from, your cat will likely devour a can of wet food placed in front of them.
However, choosing to give your cat wet food isn’t without its drawbacks.
Downsides of Wet Cat Food
Wet Cat Food Costs More
In general, wet cat food is more expensive than dry cat food. Depending on the brand they buy, pet food shoppers can end up spending double the amount of money on wet food that they would on dry food. However, not all wet food has to cost you an arm and a leg. Be sure to shop around and find a brand whose prices you’re comfortable with; just make sure you’re continuing to buy food made from quality ingredients!
Wet Cat Food Can be Messy
If your cat loves to strut their stuff and show off their majestic mane or gorgeous coat, giving them a can of cat food can be shocking – their gorgeous, lush fur can look gnarly, fast. Luckily, cats are pretty meticulous self groomers. And, if your cat’s fur still looks a bit gruff from dinner, there’s nothing a quick bath can’t fix!
How Do I Find Quality Wet Cat Food?
Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD recommends that cat owners should look for the statement of sound nutrition from the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) to guarantee nutritional adequacy of their cat food.
AAFCO uses two methods to evaluate adult cat foods: formulation and a feeding test. During formulation, they conduct nutritional analysis of ingredients and compare them to AAFCO nutrient profiles for a cat’s particular life stage. The feeding test evaluates the food’s digestibility and the degree of nutrient absorption that the food allows.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to choose a cat food that is rich in animal-based protein and possesses small amounts of carbohydrates. This is because dietary protein delivers the highest concentration of essential amino acids that provide the building blocks for several important biological functions, such as the removal of ammonia from the body via urine or aiding the processes in the heart. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are not digested efficiently in your cat’s gut because their digestive systems lack many of the metabolic pathways that would allow them to convert carbs into energy. Instead, digested carbohydrates tend to be converted into sugar which is then stored as body fat.
You’ll also want to make sure the wet cat food you choose is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Found abundantly in fish and certain oils, these essential fatty acids help keep your cat’s coat beautiful and healthy, maintain cell membrane health, increase the efficiency of their circulatory system, and help foster strong responses from the immune system.
There are three fatty acids in particular you should really strive to include in your cat’s diet: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). ALA is used to encourage heart health by regulating heart rhythm and stimulating heart pumping. DHA helps your cat’s heart as well while also stimulating their nervous responses by making it easier for nerve cells to send and receive electrical signals. EPA is used to lower triglyceride levels, making it an effective tool in the fight against cholesterol. Also remember that cat food tends to be richer in omega-6 than omega-3, so be on the lookout for quality wet cat food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to ensure optimal feline health.
Then there’s also vitamins and nutrients to think about. While you certainly want to make sure your cat is getting enough vitamins, don’t overdo it. Too many vitamins can also cause a myriad of health problems. That being said, there are about a two dozen total essential vitamins and nutrients cats need to have in their diet.
For example, selenium and Vitamin A help boost your cat’s immune system with the added benefit of strengthening their eyesight. Vitamin D can be thought of as a complementary vitamin to phosphorus, as both increase the resilience of your cat’s skeletal structure. Meanwhile, copper helps strengthen the connective tissues that hold your cat’s body together.
Moving deeper into your cat’s body, calcium and Vitamin K help increase the strength of your cat’s bones and promote blood clotting. Speaking of blood, iron stimulates blood production while Vitamin B6 stimulates the transfer of oxygen through red blood cells.
Vitamin B1 and pantothenic acid are also both necessary for regulating your cat’s energy metabolism. Riboflavin, niacin, and Vitamin B12 work with iodine, potassium, and magnesium to regulate your cat’s enzymatic functions. Chlorine also serves a regulatory purpose by establishing an acid-base balance within your cat’s chemical composition, much like when it cleans your pool.
Vitamin E and Zinc, on the other hand, stave off oxidative damage across all cells and simultaneously regulate cell production. Lastly, who can forget about sodium? It’s essential to stimulating your cat’s nervous system!
Be sure to also check with your veterinarian about any food allergies your cat may have, as consuming these allergens can cause all sorts of issues including yeast infections.
Should your cat begin to develop a yeast infection as an allergic reaction to something she ate, don’t sweat it – just apply Banixx to the affected area to give her fast-acting no-sting, no-odor relief!
Visit our cat page to learn more about how to keep your pointy-eared companion happy and healthy!