Dry food can be a nuisance for elderly cats. Their teeth will probably be weaker than before, and they won’t be able to chew it.
Even if your cat isn’t old, if she eats too fast for her own good, the dry food may cause bloating and digestive issues.
One magical solution to this problem is softening the dry food.
For one, it’ll enable the cat to digest it faster and better. And, it’ll increase the daily intake of water, which cats desperately need because of their low thirst drive.
If you want to know how to soften cat food without making a soggy mess out of it, you’ve come to the right place.
Softening your cat’s dry food doesn’t mean you need to create a soggy plate for them to feed on. You should add water in moderate amounts, and you shouldn’t leave the food out for long because it’ll stick together.
Here are five ways to soften cat food while keeping it tasty.
The first method of softening cat food is the easiest. All you have to do is prepare your cat’s dry food on a plate and then add water.
The ratio of the food: water should be 3:1 to prevent it from becoming too watery.
After you’re done adding both, let them soak for 15 minutes, a maximum of 20 minutes. Try not to let them soak more than that because the dry food will start dissolving and becoming soggy.
Additionally, make sure the water’s temperature is at room temperature. Hot water will ruin the food.
When your cat is done eating, if there are leftovers, throw them out immediately. Keeping them out will only cause the food to spoil.
This method is the most suitable one for elderly cats because it gets the food as soft as ever.
If your cat isn’t too old, she may like her food to be a bit chewy. In this case, you can add water and keep the food soaking for only five minutes.
Like the previous method, add one part of water for every three parts of dry food. This time, only soak them for five minutes instead of a quarter an hour.
When the food is done soaking, drain the water from the food to let it keep its chewy texture. Then, leave it for another five minutes, and serve.
This method is perfect for weaning cats. If you want your cats to move on to solid food, soaking the food in water for five minutes before serving is an excellent approach.
If your cat likes her food tasty, you can always add gravy instead of water. In the end, the water takes a lot out of the food’s taste, and not all cats will be okay with that.
If you don’t have gravy, you can use meat broth but make sure it’s unsalted.
If your cat doesn’t welcome the gravy-soaked food, you can always ditch the idea and mix the dry food with wet food instead.
By doing this, you’ll maintain the food’s texture while getting its consistency a bit thinner for the cat to digest.
If you find that your cat likes the mixing approach, you can start experimenting with different flavors until you find the cat’s favorite. This way, you’ll be giving her enough nutritional value while keeping the food soft and tasty.
If you want to soften the cat food for a weaning kitten, you may want to use milk instead of water. This way, you’ll get the food to be creamy enough for the kitten while providing all the needed vitamins and minerals.
When your kitten starts getting used to it, start using less milk, and add water gradually every meal until the kitten is okay with it.
After the week of transition ends, you can use the soaking for five minutes method to get the food a bit chewy.
That way, you encourage the kitten’s biting and chewing abilities, and you get her off the milky meals.
When weaning kittens, the best approach is to go slowly. Introducing solid foods at once will shock the cat, and she might not like it. It’s best if you add milk first, then start gradually getting her off it.
If you want to get the food’s consistency as thin as you can, you can mash the food after soaking it in water.
All you have to do is add the dry food and water to the plate, in a 3:1 ratio. Then, leave the food to soak for 15 minutes, and grab a hand masher to get the food into a mashed consistency.
If you don’t have a hand masher, you can just crush the food before soaking it in water.
It’s okay to add more water if you want a thinner consistency. This method is typically the better option for cats who have difficulty chewing, mostly senior cats. It’s also suitable for weaning kittens.
Dry food is sold in kibbles, so it’s meant to be dry. Why should you soften it for your cat?
Well, for starters, weaning kittens need their food to be softer at first before being introduced to solid food. So, softening the dry food seems like a pretty good idea.
Secondly, it works wonders if your cat has dental issues. Elderly cats likely have weaker teeth, and thereby a weaker ability to chew. Softening the food helps them digest it faster.
Cats with sensitive digestive systems can also benefit a lot from softening their food. When they consume soft food, the digestive enzymes aren’t hit at once with solid food.
So, they do their job efficiently and smoothly without causing bloating or other digestive issues.
Lastly, adding water to the food helps if your cat is at risk of dehydration. Cats are generally more prone to dehydration than us because they have a low thirst drive.
So, their bodies don’t tell them when they need water. Adding water to their meals will keep them hydrated.
There’s already wet cat food on the market, which is basically regular food mixed with water. So, why do we soften the dry food with water when we can buy wet food instead?
Well, it really boils down to your personal preference. Dry food is the more convenient option because it’s easier to store, and it’s more affordable.
Plus, it doesn’t have a strong smell like wet food does, so it seems better to have at home.
On top of that, dry food has more calories because it doesn’t contain moisture, so it helps cats get full faster. You’d need a lot more wet food to get the cat full than you’d need dry food.
If your cat isn’t used to eating large amounts at once, softening dry food will be a nice alternative because it’ll provide water and keep the nutritional value intact.
In the end, if wet food is more convenient for you, you can get it instead of wetting dry food.
However, dry food has a higher nutritional value, and it’s a more affordable option. Not to mention, it’s less of a hassle to store.
If you’re still not convinced that dry food is the more convenient option, you can check this brief overview of the two types, and decide for yourself.
The best thing about dry food is that it can be stored for a long while after opening it.
Another good thing is that you can leave it outside until the cat eats. So, it allows for free-feeding; you don’t have to remove it once the cat is done.
You can also leave it in the feeder if you have work or won’t be at home for feeding time.
All in all, dry food is easier to deal with. Its downside is that it doesn’t provide enough moisture, but you can solve that by softening it.
Wet food has a longer shelf life than dry food, but once it’s opened, you only have a short time before it spoils. That’s why the cat should eat it at once, not several bites throughout the day like dry food.
Wet food has leverage over dry food because it’s available in multiple textures and flavors—the same can’t be said about dry food.
Additionally, wet food is better for urinal health and weight management. But you can get its nutritional value and benefits for a lower price by softening dry food.
If you still can’t decide between wet and dry food, you can always leave the choice to your feline.
Cats generally have independent minds; they’ll make their distaste clear if they don’t like the food. So, you don’t have to worry about that.
Try softening some dry food for a change, and see if your cat accepts it.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.