Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best wet cat foods

High in moisture and packed with protein, wet cat food mirrors a cat’s natural diet. Most vets recommend it, and some cats insist on it. Whether you’re looking for the best cat food for a new kitten or simply want ensure that your feline friends are getting the nourishment they need, wet cat food is an excellent choice. But with so many different recipes, textures, and flavors to choose from, where do you start?

If you need a hand finding the best wet cat food for your furbaby, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put in hours of research and waded through the vast array of wet cat food options currently available to help you find the purrfect fit for your kitty.

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Kittens require extra calories to support healthy growth. Although the ingredients in kitten and adult cat foods may appear similar, kitten food contains more calories. Feeding your tiny furball an age-appropriate diet is essential to his health.

Why cats need wet food

Whether a docile darling, rambunctious rascal, or feisty furball, your cat’s primal nature remains unchanged. Just like lions, tigers, and leopards, domestic cats are true carnivores, requiring a protein-rich, meat-based diet to thrive. While quality dry cat foods are more than capable of meeting these nutritional needs, they can't compete with wet foods in terms of moisture content.

Why does this matter? Because cats are biologically hardwired to obtain vital moisture from the organs and muscles of prey, they tend to have a lower thirst drive. This means cats typically won't drink water as readily as other household pets might. For some cats, this can lead to dehydration and may even cause serious urinary tract problems. While most dry cat foods have a moisture content of approximately 10% or less, wet cat foods can contain up to 78% moisture, making it easier for cats to fulfill their daily water requirements.

Wet vs. dry cat food

When it comes to selecting cat food, many owners assume that choosing a single type and sticking with it is the only way to go. However, both wet and dry cat foods have their own unique advantages. Taking a closer look at both can help you decide whether a diet consisting solely of wet food is best for your kitty or if mixed meals are a better option.

Wet cat food

With a higher moisture content and more protein, wet cat food does a better job of meeting the unique physical needs of cats.


  • High moisture content: The higher moisture level in wet cat food can help prevent dehydration and urinary tract issues.

  • Superior palatability: Finicky felines often find the intense flavor and aroma of wet cat food more appealing.

  • Manageable texture: The softer texture of wet cat food is easier for both older cats and kittens to sink their teeth into.

  • Textural variety: Wet cat food comes in many different textures, opening up a world of variety.

  • Serving convenience: Some wet cat foods are available in single-serving containers for fuss-free feeding or calorie tracking.


  • Costs more: Wet cat food tends to be more expensive than dry food.

  • Requires refrigeration: Once opened, leftovers need to be stored in the fridge to keep them from spoiling.

  • Not suitable for free feeding: Like other fresh foods, wet cat foods are susceptible to bacterial growth and spoilage if left out at room temperature.

Dry cat food

High-quality dry cat food is capable of delivering all the nutrients your cat needs and can be a convenient feeding solution for busy pet owners.


  • Cost effective: Although high-quality dry cat foods aren’t cheap, they’re generally less expensive than wet foods.

  • Easy to store: Dry cat food is easier to store and can be kept fresh in an airtight container.

  • Suitable for free feeding: For cats who prefer to nibble all day or busy pet parents who want to feed the cat once, dry cat food can conveniently be left in a dish.

  • Dental benefits: Some experts believe dry cat food can help to remove plaque and tartar buildup.


  • Less moisture: The low moisture content of dry cat food can cause dehydration and urinary tract problems in some cats.

  • Less palatable: If your cat is particularly fussy, finding a dry food she approves of might entail some rather expensive trial and error.

  • Harder texture: Kittens and older cats with dental problems may have difficulty coping with the crunchy texture.

  • Possible weight gain: Many dry cat foods have higher levels of carbohydrates which can lead to weight gain, especially if your cat has continual access to the food dish.

If your kitty doesn't have any special dietary requirements and you find yourself torn between the convenience of dry cat food and the overall health benefits of wet cat food, consider combination feeding. While frequently changing your cat’s diet isn’t recommended (and will likely result in a rather smelly litter box), alternating between quality wet and dry cat foods can offer pet parents and their furbabies the best of both worlds.

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Did you know?
On average, most wet cat foods contain more protein than dry cat foods.

Types of wet cat food

With a smorgasbord of scrumptious recipes and a variety of textures to choose from, even the fussiest of felines is likely to find a wet food he can't resist. Often packaged in cans, pouches, or trays, common forms of wet cat foods include the following:

Cubes: These uniform little blocks of meat are great for kitties who enjoy a heartier texture. The cubes usually come in gravy or gelée (a jelly-like substance) but can also be found in broth.

Sliced: Typically smothered in gravy or suspended in geleé, sliced wet cat food pieces are narrower and flatter than cubes but still give cats something to sink their teeth into.

Shredded: Shredded cat food consists of long, thin strips in broth, gravy, or geleé.

Flaked: The small, flat pieces of meat in flaked cat foods are manageable for cats of all ages while still offering some texture. Flaked cat foods are available in broth, gravy, or geleé.

Minced: One step up from paté, minced cat foods consist of finely ground or chopped meat.

Paté: Patés have a smooth consistency. Some are firmer while others are creamier. Some patés even have chunks mixed in for a varied texture.

Mousse: With a smooth texture that's similar to paté and a light, airy consistency, mousse is a good option for cats with dental problems.

Morsels: Morsels are chunks of meat of varying sizes. These typically come in gravy, gelée, or broth.

Blends: Some wet cat foods offer a textured taste sensation with several layers of varying consistencies.

Regardless of texture, remember that wet cat foods may consist of either whole or processed meats. Whether swimming in broth, drizzled with gravy, or suspended in gelée, this factor shouldn't be overlooked when shopping for quality wet cat food.

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Expert Tip
If you're reluctant to give up dry food completely, adding wet cat food to your cat's regular kibble can provide extra moisture and make her diet more interesting at the same time.


  • Look for quality meat-based protein. The best wet cat foods will have easily identifiable animal-based protein sources. Be wary of labels that loosely describe the protein as “meat” or “animal” proteins.

  • Pay attention to the order in which ingredients are listed. This is especially important because it will give you a good idea of what constitutes the bulk of any given cat food. The first few ingredients on the label make up most of the volume of the food. For example, if the ingredients are “turkey, chicken liver, chicken, chicken broth,” and so on, turkey accounts for most of the food, followed by chicken liver, with the quantity of each ingredient decreasing down the list.

  • Check the nutritional composition. Scan the label’s guaranteed analysis to find out where most of your cat's calories will be coming from. When it comes to wet cat foods, moisture should top the list, followed by a high percentage of protein and moderate levels of fat. Fiber and carbohydrates are best kept to a minimum.

  • Avoid unnecessary fillers, colorings, and artificial preservatives. Corn, wheat, and soy are common pet food fillers and can be especially difficult for cats to digest. Artificial colorings serve no purpose in any type of pet food and some have harmful side effects. When it comes to preservatives, natural alternatives like salt and vitamin E are preferable to artificial preservatives.

  • Consider specialized formulations. Wet cat foods are available in a host of specialized formulations. These are designed to cater to the unique requirements of different life stages and common health issues. Kitten, senior, weight management, urinary health, and hairball control are few examples of wet cat food formulations that may be helpful for kitties who require special dietary care.

  • Check with the FDA. You can find pet food recalls on the FDA website, and brands with frequent product recalls tend not to inspire confidence in their quality.

Wet cat food prices

While there's a wet cat food for every budget, keep in mind that prices vary according to the quality of the ingredients and production standards. You can expect to pay between $10 and $45 for a pack of 24 three-ounce servings of wet cat food. However, when choosing one, it isn't always possible to gauge quality by price alone. To make an informed decision, read the label carefully.


While some cats may enjoy the flavor, wet cat foods that cost from $10 to $15 for 24 three-ounce servings generally aren't very nutritious. These often contain a higher percentage of cereals to add bulk, and the protein sources tend to be based on nonspecific animal by-products. Some rely on the addition of plant-based proteins to boost protein percentages – a definite no-no for your carnivorous companion.


If you're looking for a good mid-range wet cat food, you'll find some decent options for between $15 and $25 for 24 three-ounce servings. However, you'll still need to read the label to check for quality ingredients, good protein sources, and minimal carbohydrates.


You’ll pay between $25 and $45 for 24 three-ounce servings for the best wet cat food. High quality comes with a higher price tag for good reason. Manufacturers often take extra care to make sure that nutrients are preserved through careful preparation and packaging. If nothing but the best will do for your feline friend, premium ingredients and natural recipes that are free of fillers and artificial additives are worth paying a little extra for.

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Male cats on dry food diets are prone to developing urinary tract problems, including life threatening blockages. Switching to a well-balanced wet cat food can help prevent dehydration-induced urinary health problems.


Q. How long can I keep opened wet cat food in the fridge before it spoils?

A. While different wet cat foods may have different storage instructions, most can be kept in the fridge for between five and seven days. Once this window has passed, any leftovers should be thrown away.

Q. How many wet versus dry meals should I feed my cat per day?

A. Most experts agree that a well-balanced, nutritionally complete wet food diet is better for cats than dry food. Replacing your cat’s regular morning and evening meals with wet food and leaving a little dry food out for free feeding in between meals can help ensure that your kitty gets the most out of her diet. However, if this isn't an option due to a weight management plan or budgetary constraints, try to aim for at least one wet meal a day.

Q. Should I warm refrigerated wet cat food before serving?

A. Taking the chill out of your wet cat food isn't a strict requirement, but Fluffy might appreciate it. Since cats really don't need warm food, adding a little hot water to a meal to bring it closer to room temperature should suffice.

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