Is it safe to only feed a cat dry food?
Should cats have a more complete diet or not? My cat rarely eats anything else apart from dry food, and I do not know why
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The short answer is "yes".
The longer answer is yes, a cat can be fine on a diet of only dry food. Most of the dry food brands are formulated to contain all the nutrients a cat needs.
The main thing to be careful of is that cats tend not to drink enough (since in the wild they get most of the liquid they need from their prey) so you do need to make sure the cat always has access to fresh water and learn the signs of dehydration.
Your cat could simply prefer the dry food. Cats have definite preferences - with our three we have one fussy eater who turns up her nose at the wrong kind of wet food, one who'll eat anything that resembles food, and one somewhere in between.
Cats can survive on a dry food only diet, but there are health concerns so that I wouldn't consider it to be safe.
The first concern is water content. Cats evolved to get water from their prey, they only drink a small amount. When cats are fed dry food, they do not drink enough water to make up for the deficiency and become chronically dehydrated.
WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition (the science centre supporting Mars Petcare brands such as WHISKAS® and ROYAL CANIN) performed a study that showed:
When cats were fed the 73.3% moisture diet they produced larger volumes of more dilute urine with a lower risk of stone formation than when they were fed the lower moisture diets
When cats do not consume enough water, they can be subject to the following health risks:
All of these conditions are extremely painful, and can cause litter box aversion since your cat only understands that it hurts when they are in the litter box. Even once the medical condition is fixed, a cat who has developed litter box aversion may not return to the litter box without significant training.
The second major concern is that dry foods have a high level of carbohydrates, which is inappropriate for a cat's digestive system.
Cats have a physiological decrease in the ability to utilize carbohydrates due to the lack of specific enzymatic pathways that are present in other mammals, and they lack a salivary enzyme called amylase.
When cats consume too much carbohydrates, they can be subject to the following health risks:
Dry food is coated in animal digest to make it smell appetizing for cats (this is why many cats prefer dry food over wet food), but it can cause them to overeat.
Dry food has been found to have mold, fungus, mycotoxins, storage mites from improper grain storage.