Updated: Jan 28
I used to be a strong dry food advocate for many years – until I started noticing the connection between common health issues and the diets my cats were eating. These health issues completely disappeared when the cats were taken off dry and fed appropriately with canned or raw.
No type, brand or variety of dry food is healthy for your cat. PERIOD.
Why is Dry Food So Bad for My Cat?
1. It Causes Dental Issues. Dry food sits on a cat’s teeth and gums – causing tartar buildup. Kibble does not scrape down onto the lower parts of the teeth or near the gums, which is where dental problems start. In fact, kibble can contribute to dental problems when the pieces lodge between the teeth, promoting bacterial growth. Just like with your diet, carbohydrate food debris breaks down into sugar, which dental bacteria feeds upon.
2. Dry food is the #1 cause of Obesity in cats.
Pets tend to eat less wet food than dry food. The wet foods satisfy more, so they stop eating faster than when they eat dry foods.
Cats do not need carbohydrates in their diet; they aren’t a natural part of a cat’s diet, and most of those calories are quickly converted to fat.
3. Dry Cat Food frequently contributes or causes the top five health issues in cats:
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI),
Recurring Gastritis/Vomiting (common sign of IBD),
Chronic Renal Failure,
4. Dry Food ALSO frequently leads to the following health issues:
High Blood Pressure
Skin and Coat Problems
Hepatic Lipidosis (Liver Failure)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
5. Excessive Shedding: Cats on a dry food diet have the chronic problem of shedding!
6. Kidney and Bladder Stones, Crystals & Inflammation:
These conditions are exacerbated, if not outright caused, by dry food. Cats cannot drink enough water to stay hydrated when on a dry food diet.
Cats get a condition called “Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder” (commonly referred to as FLUTD). The best way to prevent bladder problems is to keep lots of fluid flowing through the urinary system to flush these problem particles out. The dehydrating quality of dry food produces highly concentrated urine that is much more likely to form crystals and stones. Wet food is needed to keep the urinary tract healthy; and it’s essential in any cat with a history of bladder disease.
7. Allergies & Asthma:
Huge numbers of white blood cells live in groups (“Peyer’s Patches”) along the intestinal lining. The gut is one of the primary routes of entry into the body for invading organisms. The high-heat processing that dry food undergoes during manufacturing denature proteins, meaning that it distorts their shape. Shape is also how the immune system identifies proteins that belong in the body versus foreign proteins. Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other invaders are all identified by the proteins found on their surfaces. When an immune cell identifies a foreign protein, a whole cascade of signaling for reinforcements and production of antibodies is set into motion. Antibodies then scour the bloodstream looking for invaders matching their shape; when they find one, they latch on and signal for support. Inflammation is one of the primary responses.
When an abnormal protein is picked up by an immune cell and antibodies are produced, then every time that protein appears, antibodies flock to it and stimulate inflammation. More bad proteins = more inflammation.
The gut doesn’t take kindly to this reaction, and will start rejecting the food one way or another: vomiting, diarrhea, or both. Cats seem to be especially good at vomiting, and indeed
8. Dehydration - Obviously, dry food is dry. This is a very big problem for cats, whose ancestors are desert-dwelling wild cats. As a result, cats have a low thirst drive, and don’t drink water until they are about 3% dehydrated—a dehydration level so serious that most veterinarians would consider giving intravenous fluids.
Dehydration causes or contributes to many serious health issues, including:
Urinary Crystals and Stones
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder (FLUTD)
"FELINE DIABETES IS NOT THE NATURAL FATE OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PET CATS.
IT IS, RATHER, A HUMAN-CREATED DISEASE THAT IS REACHING EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS BECAUSE OF THE HIGHLY ARTIFICIAL FOODS THAT WE HAVE BEEN FEEDING OUR FELINE COMPANIONS FOR THE PAST FEW DECADES.
WITHOUT THE CONSTANT FEEDING OF HIGHLY PROCESSED, HIGH CARBOHYDRATE DRY FOODS, BETTER SUITED TO CATTLE THAN CATS, ADULT-ONSET FELINE DIABETES WOULD BE A RARE DISEASE, IF IT OCCURRED AT ALL."
-- ELIZABETH HODGKINS DVM, JD
With very few exceptions, only cats with underlying disease will drink a lot of water. Often the disease involves their lower urinary tract, especially if they are suffering from chronic, moderate dehydration thanks to a primarily dry food diet. It's easy to imagine the growing stress on those vital organs when your kitty's body is operating on half the amount of water it requires to function normally – day in and day out, for months, years, or a lifetime.