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Cat eating dry food on floor

Diet of dry and canned food best for most cats

Q: Should we feed our cats dry food or canned food?

A: You may want to consider both.

Many families feed only dry food, primarily because it’s convenient. An added benefit is that dry food, particularly if it’s recognized as a dental diet by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, minimizes dental plaque and tartar.

However, I supplement my own cats’ dry kibble with canned food. I want them to like canned food, in case they need to eat it in the future. For example, cats that develop bladder or kidney disease require extra water, and canned food is a good source because it is about 80 percent water.

New research reveals that a canned diet also decreases the risk of diabetes in cats. In a study of 2,066 cats, 396 of whom had diabetes, researchers learned that cats fed diets containing at least 75 percent dry food were at increased risk of diabetes, even when their weight was reportedly normal.

Veterinarians have long known that obesity predisposes cats to diabetes. This new study also showed that “greedy eaters,” cats who finish their meals immediately, have a higher risk of diabetes than cats that nibble throughout the day.

Other risk factors for diabetes include being male, having received steroid injections, and living without dogs or other pet species in the home. Indoor living also increases the risk of diabetes, unless the cat leads an active lifestyle.

While a combination of dry and canned foods may be best for most cats, only your veterinarian can recommend a diet to meet your own cats’ needs. Ask at your next visit.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com

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