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When you bring a new cat home, one of the first decisions you have to make as a new pet parent is what type of cat food to feed your feline. And while there are hundreds of foods and cat food brands on the market, most cat owners will choose between two types of formulations—wet cat food and dry cat food.

While there are benefits and drawbacks to both, wet cat food can offer a variety of benefits to our feline friends. “In general, wet food tends to be higher in fat and protein and lower in carbohydrates compared to dry food,” says Dr. Ericka Carroll, a San Francisco-based veterinarian who works for Hello Ralphie, a telehealth platform. “Wet food also has significantly high moisture content compared to dry food.”

Finding the best wet cat food for your four-legged companion will come down to your cat’s individual needs and preferences. But this guide will provide information about what to look for and consider when shopping for wet cat food and which brands and formulas you should consider for optimum nutrition.

Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Cats?

Wet cat food and dry cat food

The answer to this question is really based on your cat’s needs and your own personal lifestyle and budget. Most commercial wet food and dry food formulas provide cats with a complete and balanced diet. However, there are some major differences between wet cat food and dry cat kibble. 

“The primary difference between dry and wet cat food is that dry food contains less moisture,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture in New York City. “Dry food is approximately 10 percent water, whereas wet food is up to approximately 80 percent moisture content. Dry food is therefore more energy dense and may be higher in calories. Often it is also higher in carbohydrates.”

Wet cat food generally has higher protein content than dry food, which could be a benefit to cats, says Carroll. “Given that wet food tends to be higher in protein and fat compared to dry foods, when fed in appropriate portions, it can help keep cats lean and trim and thus have overall positive health benefits,” she explains. 

But wet cat food also comes with some drawbacks. “While you can leave kibble out for cats to graze on throughout the day, wet cat food should all be eaten at meal times,” says Dr. Shawna Garner, U.S. lead veterinarian at on-demand video consultation platform, FirstVet.

Dry cat food is also usually less expensive than wet food and easier for pet parents to manage. “Dry food is typically thought of as more convenient for pet owners as it can be left out all day without spoiling,” says Barrack. “Due to moisture content, wet food requires refrigeration once opened so as not to spoil.”

If you’re trying to choose which formulation is better for your cat, discuss your options with your veterinarian.

Wet Cat Food Benefits

In addition to the high protein content, wet cat food also has other benefits for feline health and wellness. 

“Cats frequently suffer from bladder and kidney disease,” says Carroll. “The extra moisture found in wet food can help maintain bladder and kidney health.”

Garner adds that wet food can also be beneficial to weaning kittens. “Wet cat food can be useful for helping kittens transition from a liquid to a solid diet,” she says. “As kittens still don’t have their permanent teeth until they are around a year old, wet food is much easier for them to chew than kibble.”

Because of its softness, wet cat food may also benefit senior cats with dental problems or missing teeth. 

Additionally, wet cat food tends to be more pungent and flavorful than dry kibble. So it’s often used to help cats eat when they are sick or picky about their food. 

Best Wet Cat Food of 2021: Overall Picks

The following foods all combine nutritional ingredients, complete nutrition, and palatability. They are also highly recommended by cat parents and have price points that make them accessible to the majority of families. 

Here are our favorite wet cat foods of the year:

Tiki Cat Luau Wet Food

Tiki Cat Luau Wet Food

There’s a lot to love about Tiki Cat Luau wet cat food. These recipes are made from non-GMO ingredients, are grain and potato free, and are made with 80 percent protein. There’s a variety of flavor options to choose from, ranging from chicken and salmon to sea bass and tilapia. The protein sources are always the first ingredient listed on the label, and these recipes are formulated with additional vitamins and important ingredients like taurine to provide cats with optimal nutrition.   

Highlights

  • High-quality poultry and fish ingredients.
  • A variety of recipes to choose from.
  • No byproducts or fillers.
  • Non-GMO ingredients, grain-free, and gluten-free.
  • Packed in broth for added moisture and nutrition.
  • AAFCO certified. 

Things to Consider

  • Should be served at room temperature.
  • Like all wet cat foods, it should be refrigerated after opening.
  • These are not pate recipes. They are chunks of fish and poultry.

Blue Buffalo Wet Cat Food Healthy Gourmet Variety Pack

Blue Buffalo wet cat food

Cats need some variety in their lives, and this Blue Buffalo wet cat food pack offers three different recipes for cats to try. These flaked formulas come in chicken, fish and shrimp, and tuna—all ingredients that cats love. They are made from all-natural ingredients without the use of byproducts or artificial flavors. These recipes are also corn, wheat, and soy-free. In addition to the awesome protein source, these recipes also contain wholesome ingredients like sweet potato, carrots, and cranberries. 

Highlights

  • Protein is the first ingredient on the labels.
  • Variety pack lets you test and try different recipes.
  • Recipes do not contain corn, wheat, soy, byproducts, or artificial flavors.
  • AAFCO approved for complete and balanced nutrition.

Things to Consider

  • Not a grain-free food.
  • It seems like the Healthy Gourmet brand will switch to Tastefuls. 
  • Like all wet cat foods, this should be refrigerated after opening.

Purina Pro Plan Wet Cat Food Chicken and Turkey Favorites Variety Pack

Purina Pro Plan Wet Cat Food Variety Pack

If your cat is a gravy fan, then this variety pack of chicken and turkey favorites from Purina Pro Plan is a great option. This 24-count pack offers three different recipes including Chicken and Rice, Turkey and Rice, and White Meat Chicken and Vegetable. All the recipes are packed with healthy skin and coat ingredients such as Vitamin A, linoleic acid, and omega-6 fatty acid. They are also packed in gravy for a yummy taste that most cats go crazy for. 

Highlights

  • Turkey and chicken options packed in gravy.
  • 24 count pack is a good value for the money.
  • Ingredients to help your cat’s skin and coat.
  • Made is U.S. facilities.
  • Certified by AAFCO.

Things to Consider

  • Not non-GMO.
  • Contains about 40 percent protein.
  • This pack contains 3-oz cans.

Weruva Mideast Feast Wet Cat Food

Weruva Mideast Feast Wet Cat Food

If your finicky cat is tired of salmon, this recipe from Weruva is a nice way to switch things up. Made with chunks of hand-flaked tilapia in gravy, this wet cat food is a nutritious change of pace. Balanced with tuna and other vitamins, the Weruva wet foods are low in phosphorus and magnesium and manufactured in human food facilities for the highest quality standards. Plus, it’s grain, gluten, and carrageenan free!

Highlights

  • Made in a human-grade facility with high quality standards.
  • Features tilapia and tuna.
  • Low in phosphorus and magnesium.
  • Weruva is a family-owned business.
  • Certified by AAFCO.

Things to Consider

  • 5.5 oz cans.
  • Tuna is the first ingredient, but tilapia is third on the list.

Crave Grain Free High Protein Wet Cat Food Trays

Crave Grain Free High Protein Wet Cat Food Trays

If you don’t want to fiddle with having to refrigerate half-used cans of wet cat food, look for perfectly portioned options like these twin-packs from Crave. While we are fans of the salmon and trout variety, there are plenty of other flavors to choose from including Chicken and Beef, Turkey and Duck, and Salmon. Protein is the first ingredient on the label and these recipes are formulated with added vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. To serve, simply snap the pack in half, peel back the lid, and serve to your feline friend. No mess and no fuss. 

Highlights

  • Easy, single-serving containers cut down on mess.
  • Protein-rich recipes with protein sources as first ingredient.
  • Lots of flavor variety to choose from.
  • Made without soy or grains.
  • AAFCO approved for complete and balanced nutrition.

Things to Consider

  • For each 8-pound cat, you’ll need to serve 4.5 servings daily.
  • Packaging isn’t as eco-friendly or sustainable as canned cat food.
  • Pate formulation. This is not a chunk or flake food. 

Best Wet Cat Food For Older Cats

Sometimes senior cats need a change in diet to make sure they are getting the right balance of calories and nutrients. Seniors may be less active than kittens or adult cats and need fewer calories in their diets. 

Also, older cats are more likely to suffer from kidney problems, heart disease, and joint problems, so specially formulated foods can keep them healthier for longer.

Here are our picks for the best wet cat food for older cats:

Hills Science Diet Wet Cat Food For Senior Cats

Hills Science Diet Wet Cat Food For Senior Cats

Hills Science Diet is a trusted brand that is recommended by veterinarians and plenty of cat parents. This recipe, which is available in both chicken and turkey flavors, is suited for cats who are 7 years and older. It’s formulated to help senior cats maintain lean muscle mass and is packed with vitamins that support immune health and kidney function. 

Highlights

  • Designed specifically for cats older than 7.
  • Helps support lean muscle mass.
  • Available in two different can sizes—2.9 oz and 5.5 oz.
  • Recommended by veterinarians.
  • AAFCO approved for complete and balanced nutrition.
  • Made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • Only available in chicken and turkey flavors. No fish options.
  • It does contain chicken byproducts, but they are not harmful to cats.
  • Some reviewers did say that the smell is pretty strong, but that’s the case for many wet cat foods. 

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Mature Pate Wet Cat Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Mature Pate Wet Cat Food

Older cats will benefit from this chicken-based wet food from Blue Buffalo. This recipe—labeled for mature cats—contains less calories than other wet cat food, which is a great option for seniors who tend to be less active. But besides the caloric info, this cat food contains plenty of moisture and also offers DHA, which helps to keep your cat’s cognition sharp and focused. Chicken, chicken broth, and chicken liver are the first three ingredients and it is made without wheat, corn, soy, or byproducts. 

Highlights

  • All-natural option.
  • Formulated with DHA for cognitive support.
  • Older cats will benefit from less calories.
  • Smooth, pate-style texture.
  • Approved by AAFCO for complete nutrition.

Things to Consider

  • Comes in a 3-oz can.
  • Not a chunk or flake formula.
  • This is a grain-free recipe.
  • Chicken is the only available flavor. 

Royal Canin Aging 12+ Canned Cat Food

Royal Canin Aging 12+ Canned Cat Food

Royal Canin is a brand that really focuses on food specific for your cat’s life stage. And this formula is meant for cats who are 12 years of age and older. It’s made with omega-3 fatty acids to help your feline maintain healthy joints and it supports kidney health with controlled phosphorus levels. The ratios between proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are balanced to help provide what senior cats need. 

Highlights

  • Thin slices of meat in gravy is appealing and flavorful.
  • Formulated with omega-3 fatty acids for joint health.
  • Low phosphorus food to support kidney health.
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee. 
  • AAFCO approved.

Things to Consider

  • This formula does contain pork byproducts.
  • Comes in 3-oz. cans. 
  • The chunks may not be great for cats with dental problems.

Best Wet Cat Food For Kittens

As previously mentioned, kittens can benefit from wet food because it is easier to chew than dry kibble and can help them transition from a liquid diet and wean them onto regular food more gradually. 

Look for wet cat food that is formulated specifically for kittens, since these recipes will include the right vitamins, nutrients, and calories growing kittens need. These are some of our favorite wet cat food options for kittens.

Fancy Feast Kitten Classic Pate

Fancy Feast Kitten Classic Pate

We love this variety pack from Fancy Feast because it offers four different flavors that are all made specifically with kittens in mind. Options include Ocean Whitefish, Turkey, Chicken, and Salmon. The pate texture of these recipes make it easy for kittens to eat these—even if their teeth are still coming in. You’ll find real poultry or seafood as the first ingredient in all of the formulas and they contain a touch of milk for added richness. Plus, you really can’t beat the price at under $15 for a pack of 24 cans! 

Highlights

  • Variety pack offers different flavors and options.
  • Real poultry and seafood is first ingredient.
  • Formulated for growing kittens during their first year.
  • Great value.

Things to Consider

  • Cans are 3 ounces and should be refrigerated after opening.
  • Not meant for adult cats.
  • Pate texture. 

Wellness CORE Pate Wet Kitten Food

Wellness CORE Pate Wet Kitten Food

Kittens need their essential vitamins and nutrients for ideal growth, and this wet kitten food from Wellness delivers with a tasty turkey and chicken liver flavor. This is a grain-free recipe that is made with cranberries in addition to flaxseed and fish oil for a healthy skin and coat. This is a dense pate that is easy for kittens to chew and eat. We also love that this recipe is infused with DHA to support healthy brain and eye development.

Highlights

  • All-natural ingredients.
  • Available in both 3-oz cans and 5-oz cans.
  • DHA added to support eye and brain development.
  • Created by nutritionists and veterinarians.
  • AAFCO approved for complete and balanced nutrition.
  • Made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • This is a grain-free kitten food.
  • Like other wet cat foods, this should be refrigerated once opened.
  • On the pricier side compared to other kitten foods.

IAMS Perfect Portions Pate Healthy Kitten Wet Cat Food

If you’re looking for an easy-to-serve wet kitten food, we really like the IAMS Perfect Portions. This recipe is formulated specifically for growing kittens with essential minerals like calcium for healthy bones, DHA for brain and eye development, and Vitamin E for immune system support. These trays are designed to be one feeding portion for your kitten—just snap the pack in half, peel it back, and serve.

Highlights

  • Easy to serve without leftover mess.
  • Calcium, DHA, and Vitamin E to support growing kittens.
  • Pate formula that is easy for cats to eat.
  • Stamped with the AAFCO approval.

Things to Consider

  • This is a grain-free formula.
  • Single-use containers may lead to more packaging waste.
  • Some reviewers were bummed about the 1.3-oz portion size. 

Best Wet Cat Food For Sensitive Stomachs

If your cat is prone to digestive problems, finding a wet cat food for sensitive stomachs could help cut back on diarrhea, gas, loose stools. A digestive food won’t necessarily be a cure-all for all of your cat’s issues, so make sure to consult a veterinarian before feeding your cat a special diet. 

Here are some of our favorite wet cat food options for cats with digestive problems. 

Royal Canin Wet Cat Food Healthy Digest

Royal Canin Wet Cat Food Healthy Digest

If “loaf in sauce” doesn’t sound appealing to you—don’t get it twisted. Your cat will love it. This food is formulated for cats who are older than a year and are experiencing digestive problems. The digestible proteins in this wet cat food help felines absorb nutrients and decrease stool odor—a big benefit for your litter box. Not only can this food help decrease stool odor, but it also helps your kitty maintain a balanced intestinal tract and can even help your cat avoid excess weight gain. 

Highlights

  • Formulated specifically for adult cats with sensitive stomachs.
  • Can decrease stool odor and improve overall quality.
  • Won’t make your cat gain weight.
  • Approved by AAFCO.
  • Available in two can sizes—3 oz and 5.8 oz.

Things to Consider

  • There are byproducts in this food. This isn’t a bad thing and this is a complete and balanced wet cat food.
  • May not be right for cats who don’t have digestive issues. 
  • Only one flavor option available.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Canned Cat Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Canned Cat Food

Hills offers a variety of prescription cat foods to help with certain digestive issues, but if your cat has minor digestive upset or only experiences it once in a while this non-prescription option is a great one to try. The food is formulated with prebiotic fiber to help support your cat’s gut health and improve stool quality. Not only does it help with some common digestion problems like loose and smelly stool, this cat food also provides ingredients to improve your cat’s skin and coat. Omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E keep your cat’s skin and coat soft, hydrated, and healthy. 

Highlights

  • Supports healthy digestion and skin and coat.
  • Available in two different recipes—Chicken & Vegetable or Tuna & Vegetable.
  • Healthy, easy-to-digest ingredients.
  • Veterinarian recommended.
  • AAFCO label for balanced nutrition.
  • Made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • This is not a pate or gravy formula. It’s chunkier.
  • Comes in 2.9 oz cans.
  • On the expensive side for wet cat food.

Instinct Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food

Instinct Limited Ingredient Wet Cat Food

Sometimes cats develop food sensitivities or food allergies, and common ingredients in cat food—such as chicken or beef—can cause issues. If that’s the case, trying a limited-ingredient wet cat food like this one from Instinct may help. This formula is available in three different flavors—rabbit, salmon, and turkey. These recipes are made with one protein and one vegetable. They don’t contain grain, dairy, eggs, wheat, or soy. While this may not help all cats, it could be a good option for those experiencing food sensitivities. 

Highlights

  • Limited ingredients—only one protein and one vegetable in the recipes.
  • Novel protein like rabbit available.
  • Made without grain, dairy, eggs, wheat, or soy.
  • Three different flavors to choose from.
  • AAFCO approved.
  • Available in both 3 oz and 5.5 oz cans. 
  • Made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • May not solve a cat’s digestive issues, depending on what’s causing them.
  • There are additional ingredients and fillers. Read the labels before purchasing.
  • Should be refrigerated after opening, like all wet cat foods.

Best Wet Cat Food For Weight Loss

If your cat is struggling to lose weight, diet plays a big role. Your veterinarian may recommend switching to a wet cat food for weight loss to try to keep your cat’s calories regulated. Before starting your feline friend on a weight-loss food, make sure to discuss the change with your cat’s vet. 

Here are our top picks for wet cat foods designed for weight loss. 

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Fit & Healthy Wet Cat Food

Blue Buffalo True Solutions Fit & Healthy Wet Cat Food

We really like this weight-control cat food option from Blue Buffalo because it is formulated with L-carnitine which helps felines achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It’s also enriched with fiber, which can make cats feel full longer. To top it all off, this is a moderate-calorie formula that is really designed to help cats slim down. We dig the natural ingredients, the science-based formulas, and the moderate calories in this wet cat food.

Highlights

  • Formulated with L-carnitine to help maintain a healthy weight.
  • Moderate-calorie food for cats.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients.
  • Enriched with fiber to help cats feel fuller.
  • AAFCO approved for complete and balanced nutrition.

Things to Consider

  • Chicken is the only available flavor.
  • Comes in 3-oz cans. 
  • On the expensive side, compared to other wet cat foods.

Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Wet Cat Food

Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Wet Cat Food

This ground wet cat food formula is made with real turkey and designed to help cats maintain lean muscle mass while safely slimming down. The amount of protein in this food is meant to help cats lose fat. While it won’t help cats shed a lot of weight without exercise, this food is a great option for felines that need to get rid of a couple pounds. 

Highlights

  • Made with real turkey.
  • Protein is balanced to help cats lose fat and maintain muscle. 
  • Ground formula.
  • AAFCO approved for complete and balanced nutrition.
  • Offers a money-back guarantee.
  • Most reviewers say their cats love the taste.

Things to Consider

  • Not an all-natural formula.
  • Does contain meat byproducts.
  • Available in 3-oz cans.

Avoderm Indoor Weight Support Wet Cat Food

Avoderm Indoor Weight Support Wet Cat Food

Indoor cats tend to be less active than their outdoor counterparts, and if your indoor feline has packed on a few pounds, this food from Avoderm can help. It is made with lean protein sources including chickens and tuna to help cats stay trim. On the back of the cans, you’ll see feeding instructions for weight loss and also weight management—which makes it easy to figure out the right serving size. And we love the skin and coat-benefiting ingredients in this recipe as well. Rich avocados and avocado oil will keep your kitty’s coat soft and shiny. It’s a win-win!

Highlights

  • Made with lean proteins.
  • Easy feeding instructions on the can.
  • All-natural ingredients.
  • AAFCO certified.
  • Made in the USA.

Things to Consider

  • Only one flavor available.
  • This is not a grain-free food.
  • This is a pate-style food.

Wet Cat Food Storage Tips

Cat eating wet food from bowl

Unlike kibble, we cat food cannot be left out for cats to graze on all day long. “If wet cat food is left out for too long it may cause a stomach upset for your cat due to bacterial growth, and it also won’t be very appetizing once it has been left to dry up,” says Garner.

After opening a can, Dr. Carroll says that any remaining food should be stored in the fridge (preferably in an airtight container) and served later—within 1-2 days of opening. “This storage issue can be avoided by opting for smaller sized cans,” she adds. 

If you’re considering putting the wet food in the freezer, make sure to check the label beforehand. “Some wet cat foods can be frozen, but make sure to check the packaging first,” says Garner.

When serving already-opened wet cat food, you can add a bit of warm water to the mix to refresh it and add moisture. 

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