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We’ve all seen a cat come running at the sound of a can opener — there’s no doubt that kitty loves getting canned food. But is canned food better for cats than dry food? Not necessarily. Each type of food has its advantages and disadvantages. The most important factor is whether the food meets your cat’s nutritional needs. Of course, your budget and your cat’s preference also play a role in which type of food you should choose. Store-bought cat food comes in three general forms:

• Dry cat food is also called “kibble.” It’s just what it sounds like: crunchy nuggets or kernels of food. Dry pet food can be stored for a long time (in a rodent-proof bin, if you have problems with mice), has no smell, and packages can be kept at room temperature for weeks without spoiling.

• Canned or “wet” cat food has a fairly long shelf life as long as it’s unopened. Once you open the can, though, it doesn’t hold up very well. Wet cat food usually has a pungent smell and tends to be a little bit messy to handle. If you feed your cat wet food, any uneaten food should be picked up and discarded after 15 to 20 minutes — it’s a breeding ground for bacteria that can make your cat sick. Unused portions of newly opened cans can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a day or two.

• Semimoist cat food also consists of individual nuggets but without the crunch of dry food. It’s usually packaged in sealed canisters or individual meal-size foil pouches and is highly processed. Some semimoist cat foods are formed into interesting shapes or dyed different colors. Semimoist foods in resealable containers keep well at room temperature.


Each of these types of foods has its strong points and weak points. For instance, dry food is convenient, economical, and can be left out all day. On the other hand, the way some dry foods are formulated seems to encourage the formation of bladder stones. The rich aromas of canned food will tempt even the most finicky eater, but the crunchiness of dry food helps prevent dental plaque. Semimoist combines the convenience of dry food with the tastiness of canned food but may contain the most nonfood fillers and dyes.All brand-name cat food covers the basic nutritional needs of your average cat. But if you’re worried about the overall quality of the boxes, bags, and cans of feline food in the pet supplies aisle of your local market, you might want to consider one of the premium-brand foods, usually found only in pet stores or through veterinarians.


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