Soft Dry Cat Food –
Vet Explains What To Consider

soft dry cat food in a bowl

March 23, 2022

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The phrase ”You are what you eat” is also valid for cats, not just humans!

What we feed a cat is just as important as going to the vet when it comes to our cat’s care and health. A proper diet for our little feline will promote health and eliminate the extra costs at the vet’s office.

In many cases, soft dry cat food can be the perfect choice for your kitty.
– Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM

But cats can be picky! Some love dry food, also known as kibble, while others refuse to eat nothing else but canned wet food. However, both types of food have their pros and cons.

Luckily, there is a third choice which is something between dry and wet cat food – soft dry food. In many cases, it can be the perfect choice for your kitty.

In this article, you will find out..

  • what soft dry cat food is,
  • what benefits it has,
  • what to consider before buying this type of cat food, and
  • our favorite products in the soft cat food category and why we recommend them.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Soft Dry Cat Food?

Soft dry cat food is a food that is not as dry as kibble and not as moist as canned food. It contains more water than conventional dry food, but not as much as wet food.

This variety of food can reach the hearts of even the pickiest cats because it combines the hard and crunchy kibbles with soft and moist food. It offers more delicate and chewable bites, and at the same time, it can clean your cat’s teeth, just as dry food does.

As you will read in this article, soft dry food is suitable for any cat but especially beneficial for small kittens, senior cats, or cats that are suffering from various medical problems.

Types of soft dry cat food

Soft dry food can come in a variety of forms, such as moist or semi-moist cat food, partially soft, crunchy with a soft filling, and soft treats.

Moist or semi-moist food comes in pouches like wet food, but the water content is around 50-60%. This variety is not suited for cats that only prefer kibble and is usually served as a treat.

It is considered a transition food between the two classic types. Nevertheless, it is worth trying to give it to your cat. It may fall in love with the delicious and aromatic gravy of this type of food.

Partially soft dry cat food contains crunchy kibbles mixed with softer pieces of food or a softer filling. Many cats love this type of food because of the different textures that make feeding time more interesting.

It is a great choice for kittens and senior cats that need a softer kind of food but enjoy the crunchiness of kibble.

Soft kibble is like dry cat food but with a softer consistency and more moisture. The pieces of food are not hard and crunchy like traditional dry food. Instead, they are softer and chewier.

This type of cat food is usually sold in resealable bags to keep the food moist. You can leave soft kibble out just like dry food, but it can go bad more quickly, so it needs to be changed often enough.

Soft dry cat treats have a crispy crust and a soft interior, or they are soft and chewy like dog chew treats. This cat treat is excellent for cats who like to chew or love the crunch but cannot bite harder treats.

These treats do not replace your cat’s diet because they lack the necessary nutrients, being just snacks. Keep in mind that too many treats can lead to obesity and other digestive problems. Serve them in moderation!

soft dry food for cats

Dry vs. Wet vs. Soft Dry Cat Food –
Advantages & Disadvantages Compared

Some cat owners choose dry food because it is cheaper, and it can be left out for the cat to freely feed on while not having to worry about set mealtimes. On the other hand, other cat owners choose wet food because their kitty does not drink enough water or just likes the soft texture.

But should you opt for dry, wet, or soft dry food for your cat?

Most veterinarians will tell you to choose wet food, but it’s not that straightforward – all these options come with advantages and disadvantages, and you should consider the different options with your cat’s individual needs in mind.

Advantages and disadvantages of dry food

The first advantage that comes to mind is that dry food keeps your cat’s teeth clean. The crunchy texture of dry kibble helps prevent tartar and plaque buildup by keeping the surface of the teeth cleaner.

It is also cost-effective and can be used for free-feeding because you can leave it out in the food bowl for the day.

However, according to studies, cats that eat only dry food are prone to dehydration and urinary tract infections (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases FLUTD).

If you choose to give your cat dry food, make sure it always has a bowl of fresh water at its disposal.

Advantages and disadvantages of wet food

This type of food contains up to 78% water (sometimes even more) and is suitable for cats that do not drink enough water. Wet food can help prevent kidney and heart diseases in cats.

It is also recommended for convalescent pets or cats without an appetite because it is easier to chew and more palatable than dry food.

The downside is that your cat may be prone to tartar or plaque buildup because the food is soft. Therefore, if you feed wet food, it is recommended to brush your cat’s teeth often enough and pay a visit to the vet to get them cleaned regularly. Also, high-quality wet food is not cheap.

Knowing these things, I always recommend cat owners feed their cats with both wet and dry food. The best combination is to mix the two. This way, your cat will enjoy the crispy kibbles and the gravy or the pieces of meat from the wet food.

If your cat has not finished eating, throw away the leftovers or put them in the fridge, especially on hot days. It is known that wet food spoils much faster than dry food.

Advantages and disadvantages of soft dry food

Soft dry cat food can be considered something between dry and wet cat food. If the food has a chewy consistency or the outer layer is crunchy, it may help keep your cat’s teeth clean and promote dental health. However, if the food is too soft and smooth, it will not keep the teeth clean.

Although soft dry food has more moisture than dry food, it is not moist enough to provide your cat with all the moisture they need. If your cat is not drinking much water, soft dry cat food is better than dry food. However, you always need to provide your cat access to clean, fresh water.

In the end, the biggest advantage of soft dry cat food is that especially cats with dental issues, small young cats, or senior cats may prefer the consistency because it’s easier to chew.

Vet’s Tip: Only by giving it a try will you find the right food for your cat. If your cat is a kitten, a senior, or has dental problems, and eats only dry food, keep in mind that you have an alternative – soft dry food.

When Is Soft Dry Cat Food a Good Choice For Your Cat?

Soft dry cat food is a good choice for kittens, senior cats, or cats with oral problems.

1. Soft dry food for kittens

This type of food will be a good choice for kittens that are transitioning from milk to dry food (if you decide to give them dry food).

After weaning off their mother’s milk, kittens begin eating solid foods. Because their teeth are still developing, some may have difficulty chewing dry food. Soft dry cat food will make it easier for them to chew their food, preventing malnutrition in kittens that have problems consuming dry food. As the kitty grows, you can gradually introduce dry food.

2. Soft dry food for senior cats

As cats get older and become seniors, various dental problems, such as gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth loss, or tooth resorption, may occur. Joint and muscle pain can also appear, and chewing will not be as easy as it was when they were young.

Senior cats are also more likely to develop gastrointestinal problems, which can force them to switch to softer, easily digestible foods.

Therefore, soft dry food is a good choice for such situations.

3. Soft dry food for cats with oral problems

Gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption are some of the most oral health issues with cats.

In gingivitis, the gums become inflamed and painful due to plaque, tartar, periodontitis, or feline eosinophilic complex. In periodontitis, the gums retract, the teeth begin to move and eventually fall out.

In tooth resorption, the tooth begins to decompose from the inside to the outside; it represents the main cause of tooth loss in cats (up to 70% of cats suffer from this medical condition).

Soft dry food is a good choice for all these situations because it will be easier for cats to chew their food while supporting dental health by keeping their teeth clean.

Read More: Best Soft Dry Foods For Cats With Bad Teeth

5 Things To Consider Before Buying Soft Dry Cat Food

When it comes to what to consider before buying this type of food, you have to think about kibble size and softness, ingredients (nutritional value), packaging, aroma, and price.

1. Kibble size and softness

First of all, you need to consider the softness of the food. When you’re looking for soft dry cat food, you have a few options to choose from.

If your cat has oral problems that cause pain, you should buy kibble that is soft but not chewy. This type of food is easier to chew and will help your cat stay nourished while recovering from its dental issues.

For kittens and senior cats, soft kibbles with a crunchy outer layer can be a perfect choice that combines the interesting texture with delicious taste and easy-to-eat consistency. This type of kibble is the easiest to chew and is great for cats with dental problems too.

Secondly, you need to consider the size of the kibbles.

For example, there are cats that do not eat small kibbles. Also, some cats don’t even chew on kibbles; if they are very small, they swallow them directly.

On the other hand, kittens have small mouths, so the kibble size needs to be smaller, and the same goes for cats that have lost their teeth.

Also Read: How To Soften Dry Cat Food

soft dry cat food

2. Ingredients (nutritional value)

When choosing soft dry cat food, you need to consider your cat’s dietary needs. If you have a kitten or senior cat, they may have special nutritional requirements, and you should choose the food accordingly.

Reading the ingredients on the label will ensure that your cat receives all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Because cats are obligate carnivores, it is advisable to choose brands that are rich in animal proteins.

You should also avoid triggering allergies or any form of food intolerance. Not all brands are grain-free, and if your cat is sensitive to this ingredient, you may cause an allergy.

3. Packaging

Most brands come in smaller or larger packages. If you are still in the trial period with your cat, it is best to choose small packages to try different varieties until you find the one it likes the most.

If you have found a food that your pet likes, you can safely buy the large package because it is more profitable.

4. Flavor

Unfortunately, most cats are picky when it comes to the taste of their food. Not every cat likes fish, chicken, or beef. Also, other foods just taste better to different cats, so you may have to try a few to find the perfect one.

Luckily, many cat foods are available in a variety of flavors, so you can try out different options to see what your cat likes the best.

5. Price

Lastly, you should consider the price when deciding between different brands. Although there are good choices in all price categories, usually the price of the food is reflected in the ingredients it is made of.

Even if it is not necessary to buy the most expensive cat food to keep your kitty healthy, you should always make sure that food is approved by AAFCO to meet the dietary requirements of your pet.

Best Soft Dry Cat Food – Our Recommendations

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Summary – Soft Dry Cat Food for Your Cat

Choosing the right type of food for your cat can be a real adventure! Most cats love wet food, but many cat owners find dry food more convenient and affordable. If you have a hard time finding the right choice for you and your cat, keep in mind that you can also choose soft dry cat food.

If you have a kitten, a senior cat, or one with dental problems, soft dry cat foods can be especially beneficial because it is easier to chew and digest.

During the trial period, when you are testing a new cat food, it is a good idea to buy small packs. This way, your cat can try them until it finds the one it loves without you spending too much money.

Vet’s Comment

Every cat is unique when it comes to the foods they like or need to stay healthy. If one type of food works well for one cat, that doesn’t mean it will work just as well for another.

Only by giving it a try will you find the right food for your cat. If your cat is a kitten, a senior, or has dental problems, and eats only dry food, keep in mind that you have an alternative – soft dry food. It can improve your cat’s quality of life by making it easier for them to chew and digest their food.

– Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM

NOTE: Advice provided within this article by is not a substitute for veterinary advice. Please discuss your pet’s specific dietary needs (based on his breed, weight, age, and health status) with a veterinarian.

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