A cat’s sense of smell is 14x stronger than a human’s sense of smell. This means that the primary trigger for a cat’s appetite is smell. Often cats lose interest in feeding due to boredom. This can be quickly remedied by changing to a different flavor of food, adding water to dry cat food, or even mixing wet and dry food together.
Wet and dry cat food can be mixed together in a ratio of one-third wet food to two-thirds dry food. Take the total number of calories your cat needs daily, then divide that into thirds. Two-thirds of those calories should come from dry food. One-third of those calories can come from wet food.
Cats find the smell of wet food to be more interesting than dry food. It is also more hydrating for the cat. Dry food keeps the cat’s teeth cleaner by scraping off plaque. It is also more nutrient-dense. Mixing them together can seem like the perfect solution. However, there is more to think about, like calorie intake, cost, and health benefits.
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Mixing Foods Saves Money
Wet cat food is preferred by cats due to the soft texture and intense smell. It tends to mimic the types of foods that a cat would typically forage on its own. Cats instinctively prefer wet foods because of this. Also, it is hard for most cats to drink enough water, so wet cat foods help to get more healthy moisture in the cat’s diet.
Due to budget constraints, most cat owners opt for dry food. Dry food is also great for a cat's health. Benefits of dry food include:
- Greater nutrient density
- Higher quantity of added vitamins and minerals
- Formulated to keep the cat’s teeth clean
- Comes in a large variety of flavors
Because dry cat food lacks the pungent, intense smell of wet cat foods, the cat may lose interest in eating it. Owners may notice that the cat is not eating well and become worried that the cat is sick. Further, the cat can become dehydrated from eating only dry food and not drinking enough fresh water. Dehydration leads to urinary tract infections.
Mixing the two foods together can reignite the cat’s interest in eating and perk it back up by giving it the energy that it needs. This also is a budget-friendly way to be sure that cat is getting the nutrition that it needs, but in a way that also pleases the cat’s adventurous tastes.
How To Determine Cat’s Caloric Needs
One negative to mixing foods is that cats can more easily get too many calories each day and quickly become overweight. This happens when owners mix foods without taking caloric intake into consideration.
The best way to find out the cat’s caloric needs is by taking it to a vet for evaluation before changing the food. This way, you can be sure that the dietary decisions you make are in the cat’s best interest and will result in greater health and longer life for the cat.
However, when a vet visit is not possible, you can use an online calculator such as this one to determine what the healthiest caloric intake is for your cat. These calculators factor in the cat’s:
- Developmental stage
- Activity level
These factors are key to determining the proper daily calorie intake for the cat. Too few calories and the cat will become weak and sickly. Kittens and adolescent cats need more calories to grow properly and maintain their high energy levels. Adult and senior cats quickly become overweight from too many calories.
Dosing Food By Caloric Needs
Once you or your vet has determined how many calories the cat needs per day, you need to determine how to divide these calories up into healthy feedings for the cat. Take the total number of calories needed per day, and divide this number into thirds.
One-third of these calories should be dosed as wet food, with two-thirds of these calories dosed as dry food. Refer to the calorie content on the bag of dry food and the can of wet food to determine how much food is needed to equal the number of calories.
Always use scoops or measuring utensils to ensure proper food intake. Cat owners usually prefer to dump food in a bowl and set it out, refilling it when the cat begs for more. This method of feeding always results in overweight and unhealthy cats. Measuring food helps to make sure that the cat remains at a healthy weight.
Your veterinarian may recommend a specific feeding schedule for your cat. If so, always follow the vet’s recommendations. However, there are three main feeding schedules that cat owners follow:
- All-day grazing
- Specifically timed daily feedings
- Limited availability feedings
For all-day grazing, simply mix the proper ratios of food together, then set it out for the cat to eat at will. This is the least complicated method for feeding the cat. However, resist the temptation to feed more later or give table scraps to a hungry, begging cat. Table scraps are a sure way to negate the benefits of a healthy mixed-food diet.
For timed daily feedings, simply divide the amount of food determined by caloric intake into two or three smaller amounts that are allotted at specific times. Cat owners often like to feed the cat once before leaving for work, then again when they get home. This way, they can monitor the cat’s eating habits and make changes where needed.
For limited availability feedings, the full amount of food is given to the cat but not left to be eaten until it is gone. Cat has access to the food for a certain amount of time, after which it is taken away. This method can also be used with timed daily feedings. This way, the cat is eating enough to satisfy hunger, but not too much, causing weight gain.
Adding Water To Dry Cat Food
While cat owners should give the cat access to fresh, filtered water at all times, day and night, this does not guarantee that the cat is drinking enough water. Cats often become dehydrated and are prone to urinary tract infections caused by dehydration.
A simple way to solve this problem without mixing wet and dry food is to simply moisten the dry cat food. To do this, pour ¼ cup of fresh, filtered water over the dry cat food. The water will quickly moisten the food in the bowl.
This method of hydrating dry food has four main benefits:
- Increases cat’s water intake
- Helps cats with sensitive mouths to eat more food
- Helps cats with missing teeth to eat enough food
- Increases the aroma of dry food, stimulating the cat’s appetite
When You Should Not Mix Food
There are four times when you should not mix wet and dry cat foods together.
- Do not go against your vet’s recommendations
- Do not mix brands
- Do not mix different flavors
- Do not mix prescription cat food with anything else
Keep in mind that mixing different brands of food may upset the cat’s stomach. Monitor the cat carefully for signs of distress whenever you change food or feeding patterns. Also, mixing different flavors of food can be distasteful for the cat. For example, if the dry food is salmon, then mix with a salmon wet food.
Prescription foods are carefully formulated for specific conditions. These should never be mixed with other foods or dosed differently than the recommendation made by the vet. If the cat is having trouble eating a prescription food, please make an appointment to discuss the problem with the veterinarian.
Mixing wet and dry cat foods together is a common practice. This helps the cat to get enough calories, nutrition, and water intake for optimal health. However, it can also increase overall caloric intake and result in an overweight cat. This is why it is extremely important to determine the cat’s dietary needs and measure foods carefully.
Your cat’s vet can make exact recommendations for how much food to feed and the times of day that will work best for your cat. Always make feeding changes gradually, and watch for negative reactions. Your cat’s dietary needs will change throughout its lifetime. Caring for your cat’s diet can help it enjoy a long, healthy life with you.