confused cat with two food bowls

Energy and calories in wet and dry food

If you want to compare cat food, it’s key to understand what we mean by “energy” from food. You’ve probably heard of calories, but did you know you can think of a body like an oven? The more heat needed to digest something, the more energy it provides. As you know, fat is a great source of energy. Picture this: Fats pack more energy than proteins because their molecules are longer chains – which again are harder to break up and burn by the body.

Wet cat food – High-quality hydration option

Now, think about diluting that energy by adding water. That’s what happens with wet cat food –it’s about 80 percent water, which not only keeps your cat well-hydrated but also allows her to consume a larger volume of food with fewer calories (about 100 kcal per 100g or 3.5oz). This can help prevent urinary issues and keep her kidneys healthy.

Dry cat food – Low-quality content and high-calorie considerations

Dry food, on the other hand, has very little water in it (only about 10%), so it has more calories (about 400 kcal per 100g or 3.5oz). Even though at first glance it looks like you can save money by relying on dry food as your cat’s main energy source: It’s best to feed your cat wet food as her main diet to keep her hydrated and healthy. Save dry food for an occasional treat. For more information on that check out our detailed article about why wet food is better than dry food.

Why direct comparisons are misleading

Comparing wet and dry cat food based on calorie content without adjusting for moisture content is like comparing apples to oranges. For instance, a cup of dry food might contain 300 kcal, while a cup of wet food might only have 80 kcal due to its higher water content. This does not mean the wet food is “less nutritious”; it simply contains more water which in fact is one of the most important ingredients for keeping your cat healthy.

Your takeaway should be that it only makes sense to compare foods of the same kind. Compare wet foods only to other wet foods. If you’re ready to dig a bit deeper and crunch some numbers now you can head to our article about comparing cat food calories.

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