Exploring Different Feeding Methods for Cats: Dry, Wet, and Mixed

The variety of cat food options and feeding methods, including dry, wet, or mixed feeding, is extensive. Determining the best choice isn't always straightforward and has sparked numerous discussions among cat owners.

What remains certain is that the quality of the content matters more than the specific type of cat food. Generally, cat food labeled as complete provides all the essential nutrients your cat requires. However, it's important to consider the advantages and disadvantages associated with each type of food, keeping your cat's health as the top priority.

To provide an overview, we have compiled a summary of the different feeding methods and their distinctive features. For a thorough understanding of your cat's individual needs, it's advisable to seek detailed advice from your veterinarian.

Wet FoodWet Food
Mixed Feeding Mixed Feeding
Dry FoodDry Food
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An overview of different feeding types:

You will find a wide range of cat food types on the market, each varying in ingredients, water content, production methods, and other factors. The type and characteristics of the food can influence several aspects including health benefits, taste, price, and shelf life. It's important to consider these factors when making your decision.

Wet Food

Wet cat food typically contains a water content ranging from 60 to over 84 percent. This high water content can have positive effects on your cat's health, particularly in relation to urinary tract and kidney diseases when compared to dry food. However, it's important to note that wet food spoils more quickly due to its high water content.

To prolong its shelf life when sealed, wet food is frequently packaged in cans or foil bags. Additionally, certain wet food products may contain a thickened sauce.

Generally, wet cat food consists of a larger variety of ingredients compared to dry food. Depending on the manufacturer, these may include muscle meat, grains, and often offal and organs.

During production, the ingredients are minced and blended within the desired packaging, which is subjected to high pressure and temperatures to eliminate bacteria and germs.


  • Generally higher acceptance due to its more intense taste
  • High liquid content promotes proper hydration, aiding in kidney and urinary tract health
  • Suitable for cats without teeth


  • Low dental abrasion, promoting plaque and tartar formation if additional or insufficient dental care is provided
  • Short shelf life after opening

Dry Food

Dry cat food generally has a low moisture content of less than 10 percent, which contributes to its longer shelf life compared to wet food. However, it provides significantly less water to your cat.

Depending on the manufacturer, typical ingredients in dry food include dried muscle meat, animal by-products, animal meal, grains, fats/oils, vitamins, amino acids such as taurine, and antioxidants.

In the production of dry food, the pet food industry employs specialised pressure processes like extrusion. This involves subjecting the food to high pressure and steam to shape it into pellets, kibbles, or flakes.


  • Space-saving storage and extended shelf life, even after opening
  • The solid components in dry food can help clean teeth by promoting regular abrasion, although it is not sufficient on its own and does not replace dental care
  • More environmentally friendly in terms of reduced packaging material


  • Dry food may sometimes be less accepted by cats
  • There is a risk of water deficiency (dehydration) since dry food provides less moisture compared to wet food.

Mixed Feeding

Mixed feeding involves providing your cat with both dry and wet food. While it can be more challenging to determine the correct portion sizes for this type of feeding, it combines the benefits of both dry and wet feeding methods.

It is advisable to consult with your veterinarian to calculate your cat's specific dietary requirements and establish a feeding plan. This plan can serve as a long-term guideline for maintaining a balanced diet.


  • Provides variety for your cat's mealtime
  • Combines the advantages of both wet and dry feeding methods


  • There is a risk of over or under-supplying nutrients if the incorrect amount of food is provided

Semi-Moist Food

Semi-moist cat food, which contains a moderate water content, is less commonly available as a complete food option compared to other types. However, it is often found in the form of snacks or treats that may contain additives to enhance palatability.


  • Generally higher acceptance among cats due to their appealing texture and taste
  • Higher water content compared to dry food, contributing to better hydration


  • Treats or snacks in this category may have a high sugar content, which should be monitored to prevent excessive consumption

Suitable accessories


Have you found the perfect cat food? Let us assist you further by suggesting some serving accessories because food alone is not everything!

Just like with the food itself, you can ideally cater to your furry friend's individual needs and the conditions of your home with our selection of accessories, making every meal a delightful experience. From bowls and water dispensers to storage containers and placemats, our range of accessories will enhance the dining experience for your cat.

  • Wet Food
  • Dry Food
  • Mixed Feeding
  • Snacks
  • Accessories

Pet approved: We've tested these products for you!

Our most important employees put selected products through their paces.

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Lots of juicy meat or delicate fish - check! No artificial flavors, colours, or preservatives - check! Exotically enhanced with a touch of rice - check! Premium wet food for a species-appropriate diet - double-check! And Cosma Asia in Jelly provides that extra portion of liquid.

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When a sleeping spot doubles as a feeding area, you can be sure you'll never miss a meal! This modern cat house from Natural Paradise provides exactly that with a food bar and two cozy lounging spots. Now all your human companion needs to do is fill it up - purrfect!

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Q&As: Questions and Answers

How does mixed feeding work and what factors should I consider?

Mixed feeding involves combining the benefits of dry and wet cat food by offering both types of food. For instance, you can provide dry food freely throughout the day and complement it with one or two wet meals. However, it's important to avoid directly mixing the two types of food since they have different digestion times.

To ensure your cat doesn't overeat, it's crucial to calculate the appropriate amount of food in advance. This helps maintain a balanced diet and prevent excessive consumption.

What should I look out for when feeding only wet food?

As wet food doesn't provide the same mechanical abrasion as dry food, it's important to be aware that it can contribute to the development of plaque and other dental issues over time. Regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian and professional tartar removal may be necessary. Additionally, it's essential to implement at-home dental care practices, such as providing dental chews, as part of your cat's daily routine.

Because wet food can spoil quickly when left in the bowl, it's advisable to remove any uneaten wet food within a day at the latest. This helps maintain freshness and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

What should I look out for when only feeding dry food?

As cats age, they can be more prone to kidney health issues. It is crucial to ensure a balanced fluid intake for your cat's overall well-being.

If you exclusively feed your cat dry food, it is important to encourage them to drink an adequate amount of water. Ensure fresh water is available to your cat at all times. You can also consider using a cat fountain, as the flowing water can stimulate your cat's thirst. Another option is to place multiple water bowls throughout your house to make it easily accessible for your cat.

By promoting proper hydration, you can support your cat's kidney health and help prevent potential issues associated with inadequate fluid intake.

How do I determine the right amount of food for dry or wet food?

To determine the right amount of food for your cat, whether it's dry or wet food, you can follow the manufacturer's recommendations provided on the packaging. However, it's important to consider factors such as your cat's age, weight, activity level, and overall health.

For active outdoor cats, they may require more food to meet their higher energy needs compared to indoor cats. It's also a good idea to consult the zooplus magazine or seek advice from your veterinarian for further guidance on determining the appropriate portion size for your cat.

How long can you leave wet or dry food out?

Leaving cat food in the bowl for an extended period increases the risk of it spoiling. Spoiled food can be harmful to your cat's health, so it's important not to leave it out for too long.

Wet food should be removed from the bowl within a day at the latest. Dry food, on the other hand, can typically be left for up to two days before it should be discarded.

What is the ideal way to store the food?

The shelf life of cat food is indicated on the packaging and it is important to follow the recommended storage guidelines. It is advisable to store sealed cat food, regardless of type, in a cool place below 38°C and protected from light.

Once opened, cans or bags of cat food should be sealed tightly and stored in a cool place. This is especially crucial for wet food, which should be refrigerated at temperatures between 4 and 7°C after opening.

How can you tell if wet or dry food has spoiled?

Spoilage of cat food can manifest in various ways, including changes in taste, odor, colour, and consistency. If you observe any of these discrepancies, it is advisable to discard the food and thoroughly clean the bowl with hot water and detergent.

At what time of day and how often should I feed wet or dry food?

Unlike dogs, it is recommended to provide cats with continuous access to food without exceeding their daily ration. For instance, dry complete food can be offered freely. If you opt for wet food, it is advisable to offer it at multiple times throughout the day. Remember to remove any leftover food from the bowl regularly to prevent spoilage.

What should I consider when changing the food?

Changing your cat's food too often or too quickly can lead to digestive issues. It is important to approach this topic with care and gather detailed information before making any changes to your cat's diet. When switching food, it is recommended to do so gradually by mixing a small amount of the new food with the old food.

You can find additional information on what to consider when transitioning your cat's diet in the zooplus magazine.

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