Do Cats Need Canned Food?

by Catherine Lovering, Demand Media
    Many cats will need some wet food to be healthy.

    Many cats will need some wet food to be healthy.

    Your kitty needs water to be healthy, but don't expect her to pour herself a glass. Cats that don't drink water should get canned food to make sure they're hydrated to some extent. Consider wet food if your cat has some health conditions that indicate he's not getting enough H2O.

    Benefits of Wet Cat Food

    In the wild, cats eat meat. Even in the city, away from humans, they aren't snacking on a bag of kibble. They're carnivores, and their predatory diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, with a moderate amount of fat. Wet food, compared with dry, is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates -- which means it's more like what a cat would get in nature than dry food. A prime benefit of canned cat food is that it has a much higher water content -- as much as 80 percent, compared with 7 percent to 12 percent in dry food.

    Some Cats Need Canned Food

    Your kitty may literally lick her lips when she's enjoying wet food. If she's suffering from kidney disease, diabetes, crystal formation or constipation, the tasty dish may also be good for her. Cats with these conditions in particular need a high water intake, and wet food is an easy way to get kitty hydrated. Diabetic and full-figured felines may also benefit from the high protein content in wet food.

    Not All Brands Are Created Equal

    Canned food will make sure your cat gets plenty of water. But cats need other nutrients as well, and not all wet cat food products are nutritionally complete. If you're going to feed your cat only canned food, choose a brand that meets the requirements of the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Only these are guaranteed to meet standards of being nutritionally complete and balanced. Also remember that your kitty's nutritional needs change as she ages. Choose a food that's made for her life stage.

    Alternatives to Canned Food

    Your cat may not need wet cat food if she regularly drinks from her water bowl. If you're refilling her water bowl every day, she's probably good to go with dry food, as long as that dry food is nutritionally complete. Ask your vet about other alternatives to make sure your kitty gets the nourishment she needs. Homemade fare may be an option if it is to your kitty's liking.

    About the Author

    Catherine Lovering has been a freelance writer since 2006. She has been published in "The Globe and Mail" and "The Legal Edge." Lovering holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Victoria and a Licentate in Law from the University of Ottawa.

    Photo Credits

    • George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images