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Does wet food make cats sick?

  • Just as with human beings, each cat is uniquely different. 
  • Just as with human beings, cats have their specific preferences for foods. 
  • In contrast, some cats like to eat moist food, but not dry food. 
  • Other cats like to eat dry food but refuse to eat moist food. And, some cats expect their humans to provide both wet and dry foods. 

So, does your cat refuse moist food because it makes them sick, or do they refuse moist food because they do not like to eat wet food? 

I have rescued cats for over 30 years, and between my daughter and I, we gave these homeless fur babies a loving and caring home. Much of what I say is due to years of experience and research. I was a nurse for over 40 years, but I hold no degree in animal medicine. Know that your best source of information is your vet. 

Does Wet Food Make Cats Sick?

Most vets agree that it is a cat’s preference to eat wet, dry or both types of cat food. Both varieties contain all the essential nutrients that cats need to keep healthy. The most important thing is to find the best quality of food for your cat that it will eat. Never waste your money on food that your cat refuses to eat. 

Yes, wet food can make some cats sick, and it will take the expertise of you and your vet to work together to determine why this is happening. Underlying health problems should be ruled out first. 

Why Does My Cat Throw Up After Eating Wet Food? 

If you are a new cat parent, buy a small amount of food and try it first before buying larger quantities to see if your cat eats it. You will never make your cat eat anything that it does not like. My experience with cat food is that cats would rather starve than eat something they do not like. 

There can be several reasons why wet food may make your cat sick.

  • Does your cat eat too fast?
  • Do you give your cat too big of a serving too often? Cats tend to overeat.
  • Does your cat become super excited when you feed them because so many hours have passed since they last ate?
  • Do you keep dry food out at all times along with filtered water that is renewed and changed twice a day?

Feed your cat smaller portions like one tablespoonful six to eight times daily. Cats usually eat several times during the day versus once or twice. 

Possible Underlying Health Problems

If your cat gets sick after eating wet food, the reason can vary widely. The reason can be simple or complex, caused by underlying health issues. 

Trying to determine why wet food makes your cat sick starts with a visit to your vet, a possible blood draw, and a physical examination. Once all of this is ruled out for underlying health problems, you and your vet can develop a plan of care to eliminate the problem. 

Personal Problems with Moist Food Making Cats Sick

My daughter has three fur babies, and one cannot eat moist food. If Butters eats any brand of wet food, he becomes sick, vomits, and has diarrhea. He eats dry food only and has no problems. My daughter did a few trials giving Butters wet food, and the results were the same; vomiting and diarrhea. 

My daughter also had another kitty, Boo, who lived for 19 years. But, Boo had a history of vomiting and developing urinary crystals or kidney stones. My daughter researched why, spoke to the vet, and found that foods high in ash help create urine crystals in some cats. She studied cat food and found one brand with the lowest ash content. However, it contains whole soy that may create other problems.

All of my six cats eat moist and dry food without a problem except for one kitty, Isabella. Isabella was sick with weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea for over a year. She weighed sixteen pounds, and over 2021 her weight decreased to 7.2 pounds!

Our vet drew blood on Isabella to rule out health issues, and her blood work was all normal. Blood work would identify some types of cancer, pancreatic problems, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. (Cats do not develop hypothyroidism.)

The positive blood results gave us some peace of mind. However, we now had to find out what made Isabella so ill. This made us question the foods we were buying, which were not grain-free.

After many months of trial tests, I discovered that Isabella could not eat moist or dry food that had grains, not even brown rice. So, I buy grain-free wet and dry food. Consequently, all six cats get the same thing and are doing well. 

It is impossible to get some cats to take medicine, and Isabella is no exception. So, her treatment plan is holistic supplements when I can get her to take them, a vitamin B shot every month, a steroid shot every three months for gut inflammation, and weight monitoring which is now up to 8.4 pounds. She is slowly getting better. We are seeing a decrease in vomiting and episodes of diarrhea. She eats like a horse and gets food whenever she wants it.

There is an array of grain-free and holistic cat foods. I buy two different brands every month, in addition to one that is chicken, turkey, or duck, and one brand that is fish. I purchase both because some of my six eat only fish, while others eat only chicken, turkey, or duck. 

I may change these to another holistic and grain-free brand. The cats tire of eating the same thing all the time, so I provide as much variety as possible, which seems to improve their eating. None are obese.

I found out the hard way that buying dry, moist, dry cat food that is grain-free does a lot to keep your cat healthier throughout their lives. While grains absolutely do not harm your cat, I believe it is best not to give your cat foods with soy, grains, dyes, additives, and preservatives. I like to give my cats wet food because it adds moisture to their diet in addition to the water they drink.

How Much Wet Food Is OK for Cats? 

I have found that some cat parents feed their cats too much, and some cat parents do not feed their cats enough. Your vet can recommend how much food to feed your cat. I have discovered throughout the years that not all vets agree on issues. Vets teach cat owners what they believe to be correct and meet your cat’s needs. 

  • Some owners feed their cat wet food only once a day at 5 pm and only one tablespoonful. They provide dry food all the time.
  • Another pet owner feeds their two cats half of a small can of wet food once in the morning and at night and provides dry food 24/7. 
  • My daughter feeds only dry food for her three cats. She continues to give them the dry food she gave Boo before he died. Two of her cats are obese. I recently found out from an article that cat foods that contain soy products have a tendency to cause obesity. I informed my daughter, and she is researching this issue and may change their food. Soy is yet another reason why I went grain-free and soy-free.
  • I feed my cats two kinds of dry food 24/7. I provide them with a tablespoonful of wet food in the morning, in the evening at about 5 pm, and anytime in-between these times if they want to eat. Our cats come to the kitchen and sit and look at us when they want to eat. 

You must feed your cats according to their needs. Isabella is always hungry, and she eats nearly two small cans of wet food per day and sometimes more, in addition to dry food on demand. I do not mind feeding her more, as long as it does not make her ill and she needs to gain more weight. 

Each cat has its own unique needs, making it essential you speak with your vet and calculate how much food is adequate for your cat. 

An Obesity Epidemic Across America in Cats?

Interestingly, there continues to be an obesity epidemic across America in humans. Vets also report an obesity epidemic with our furry friends that cause adverse health issues like humans. For example, cancer, diabetes, heart problems, skin disorders, infections, liver and pancreatic disease, and more attack our diet-related cats and humans. 

Feeding your cat cheap cat food will not immediately kill your cat. However, cheaper cat food does your cat no favors over the long term. This is equivalent to you feasting on fast food several times per week, instead of eating three balanced meals per day. This diet will not hurt you short term, but it will undoubtedly impact your health long term. 

Vets advise cat parents to measure out cat food to prevent excessive weight gain in the cat, especially if your cat is an indoor cat where exercise is at a minimum. It is best to speak to your vet about how much you should feed your cat (s) daily, as every cat is different.