I adopted my male cat Shai from foster care at 2 months of age. The Foster Mod fed them strictly dry kitten food, and brought me an almost full bag of what they were eating. Former cats, and every cat I know, seems to "live" for their wet food.

My kitten, upon coming to my home, turned away from the wet food. Over time I've given him four dozen such cans, offering it, and leaving it sit overnight! He literally backed away from it. Now Shai is 12 years old, and I worry a lot about him possibly needing medication.

Everyone I've told about this phenomenon with my cat is baffled. I've tried teeny morsels of steamed chicken, treats, but he turns away from any food other than the dry food in his bowl.

I worry if this is abnormal for a cat.

Thanks for any suggestions!

Edit: clarification

I am concerned partly to understand why a cat might reject wet food; though it could be due to early imprinting.

I also worry that, as he ages, he may lose teeth (my brother's 16 year old cat needed a kitty dentist for removal of a third of his teeth).

I worry about how to give him medication with ease, in the event he needs it. But I've learned ways that could work, and "we'll cross that bridge when we get there".

  • 3
    Welcome! Trying to find the actual question a bit - are you worried about your cat’s diet in general, or just about the potential need to sneak medicine into his food? Is it a “should I somehow get my cat to eat wet food” or “how can I get him to take medicine when I can’t hide it “ (I guess we have some Q/As on that) or something different? While we love details, you may want to streamline your question a bit to help the community help you better by understanding the goal and the question better.
    – Stephie
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 11:17
  • 2
    A diet based only on dry food isn't a problem on itself, the primary concern with this usually is sufficient fluid intake, and of course quality (but that applies to wet food as well).
    – bgse
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 11:17
  • Thanks, @Stephie (and also bgse). Stephanie, I could comment to clarify, but as a regular user on another SE site, we encourage askers to clarify directly in the question post. I'll do my best, now.
    – amWhy
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 18:40
  • I was working on that after posting an comment acknowledging your comments. I'm doing my best here. Please advise if you want only a one sentence question.
    – amWhy
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 18:56

2 Answers 2


Some cats struggle with leaving their comfort zone, including for food, others will munch happily on whatever is put in their bowl and others may decide one day that what was once a favorite is no longer acceptable for his (self-declared) feline highness. The reasons remain often unclear. In other words, your cat falls into the wide range of “normal”, albeit perhaps a bit more towards the edge of the Gauss curve.

For practical reasons cat owners are often encouraged to switch around cat food brands, types and flavors a bit while the cats are young (and continue that exercise), just to ensure wider tolerance - you never know when one single brand and flavor is no longer produced or even temporarily unavailable. It’s possible for older cats, too, but may be more difficult to teach an old dog (or cat) a new trick.

That said, if yours absolutely doesn’t eat wet food, so be it. I would still recommend to get him accustomed to at least different flavors, if not different brands of dry, just in case. The assumption that cats will pick wet over dry is not necessarily true in my experience. Mine often walks into the kitchen and has a clear plan what he wants and often enough it’s the dry kibble. Never got him to eat wet food from the larger cans, btw. The 100g servings or pouches are ok. (Of one brand, some flavors.)

For the teeth part, remember that cats’ teeth are not suited to grind food like we humans do. They are designed to just rip off pieces of their prey and to crack bones. Food is not chewed to a mush, but swallowed in comparatively large pieces. Chewing pieces of kibble is optional for cats and toothless cats manage just fine. I would worry more about other side effects of bad teeth (like infection and pain and the stress from vet visits) than food.

And for pills, you may also need an individual solution. I was originally taught to give pills by holding the cat and pushing the pill relatively far into his mouth. Which obviously resulted in a wrestling match, a pill on the floor and a sulking cat. A dab of malt paste or liver wurst on the other hand makes him swallow his meds without batting an eye. Be careful with the grind-and-mix method. First, not all pills should be ground, second, the more sensitive specimens may detect the “off flavor” and not eat anything. Even if it gets eaten, you want to make sure that the cat eats the whole dose, so it’s tricky for cats with fluctuating appetite - and illness may cause that - and multi-cat households where you need to manage (i.e. avoid) food sharing or theft.

  • Thank you so much! This relieves me greatly. I have switched up brands, but he definitely prefers chicken or turkey as #1 ingredient. As a kitten, I carried on a tradition I've always had with cats: a wedge from a small can, which was always immediately eaten, with grazing dry food. And thanks for the advice on medications. You make some good points!
    – amWhy
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 20:59
  • Good answer! Tell me about pouches and favour preferences. My cat only likes "Countryside Selection" (brand name withheld). "Country Selection", although similar, just won't do. "That's puke, that is." (Fawlty Towers).
    – Mick
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 16:54

The problem with 100% dry food is that cats tend to get their moisture from their food. Male cats especially that do not get enough water tend to form crystals in their urinary tract. This leads to 'plugged' ureters. The end result of that could be surgery.

  • Thanks for the advice; I do keep a close watch on his water intake, and output, and I'm pretty sure he's pretty hydrated. But yes, I will continue to monitor his fluid intake. Thanks again.
    – amWhy
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 22:09
  • Surgery is a good outcome in the case of a blocked urethra; it's far more likely that a blockage leads to death.
    – Allison C
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 14:02
  • one should always keep an eye on a cat`s fluid intake as changes in fluid intake/output is often the first sign of health problems.a cat will often drink more if the food and water is given at separate places in your house. Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 10:33

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