VCA Animal Hospitals

Is Canned Food or Kibble Better for My Cat?

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Q. My veterinarian says canned food is better for my cat than kibble. Is this true? And if so, why?

A. This may be true for your specific cat, but I’m not comfortable making a sweeping generalization for all cats. I will say, however, that given the chronic dehydration of many cats, it is becoming more common for veterinarians to recommend food with high moisture content as part of an overall program to increase cats' water intake. 

Wet vs. Dry

Canned food is good in that it has significantly higher water content than dry (about 70 percent versus 10 percent). That 70 percent water figure is coincidentally about the same water content your cat would get if he ate a small animal in the wild (or, heaven forbid, in the house). Since canned food is typically given in measured portions at regular intervals, it may also help your cat maintain a healthy weight, since many people who offer kibble to their cats allow them to eat all they want from an always-full dry-food buffet. Of course, if you choose to feed your cat kibble, you should measure it so that you're not overfeeding your cat.

But, of course, there's more to the story. Kibble is certainly more convenient, and it's a perfect match for the food puzzles I always recommend using to enrich a pet's environment. It is undeniably true that millions of cats thrive on a diet of kibble and water, and have been for decades.

Talk to Your Vet

Cat lovers don’t have to choose one or the other kinds of food exclusively, however. You can easily use kibble for food puzzles and training, and offer canned food as a way to promote hydration. (Another way to encourage your cat to drink more is to purchase a pet drinking fountain, which provides an appealing source of clean running water.)

Instead of me second-guessing your veterinarian's advice — she knows your cat, after all, which I don’t — I recommend that you ask why she prefers a canned food diet for your cat. There may be a specific health problem she’s trying to address. If you are adamant that you want to feed kibble to your pet, there may be other ways to address those issues — but you won’t know until you have the conversation about how to best feed your cat.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.