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Is It Actually Worth Adding Water To Dry Cat Food?

If you have a cat, you may have heard of adding water to dry cat food before you give it to your pet, and you might be wondering why this is a good idea and what the benefits are.

Understanding why this is beneficial and how to do it is important, because it will help you to keep your kitty healthy, minimize food waste, and reduce your cat’s risk of certain diseases. 

There are quite a few advantages of adding water to dried food before you give it to your cat, and more and more pet owners are starting to do this, because it minimizes the chances of your cat getting dehydrated.

You might be wondering if you really need to do it if you already provide plenty of clean, fresh water for your cat, but even if there’s always a water bowl available, it could be a good choice because cats have a low thirst drive and may not get enough liquid otherwise.

Dry cat food is good for your cat’s teeth and it is generally higher in calories than wet cat food, so it can be a good way to help your pet gain weight if it is too skinny.

However, its low moisture content can cause problems and should be considered when you create a diet plan for your cat. Don’t just feed your cat dry food full time without adding any liquid.

What Are The Benefits Of Adding Water To Dry Cat Food?

The major benefit of adding water to dry cat food is that it will increase the amount of water that your cat consumes in a day – and if you’re wondering why that’s a good thing, it’s because many domestic cats do not drink as much as they should each day, and can end up dehydrated.

In the long term, this can cause health issues, putting excessive strain on the kidneys, and potentially damaging them.

The ancestors of domestic cats evolved in places where water was in extremely short supply, and consequently, they are used to getting most of the liquid that they need from the things that they eat, rather than from direct water sources.

That works fine if the things they eat are wet, but it has resulted in a low thirst drive which means your cat may not realize it needs to drink more water to compensate for a drier diet.

Dried cat food contains almost no moisture, so your cat won’t be getting enough water when it eats it, and may not drink enough water to make up for this.

By making the dry food wet, you can ensure your cat is getting more water, and this puts less strain on its kidneys and should keep it healthier. Your cat should always have a bowl of clean, fresh water available too, but wetter food is almost always a benefit.

How Should You Add Water To Dry Cat Food?

How wet your cat prefers its food can vary between individuals, so you may find that you have to adjust the water content and experiment a bit to get it right for your pet – but on the whole, you should add around ¼ of a cup of clean, fresh water to a bowl of dried biscuits before giving it to your pet.

You can then allow the kibble to stand for a few minutes while the water is absorbed, as this will make your pet more likely to consume the water.

Some cats prefer to have a bit of crunch in the biscuits, in which case you should put the bowl down after just a couple of minutes, rather than allowing the biscuits to turn soggy.

You may find that it helps to crumble large biscuits up before adding the water, or that you need more water for some kinds of food, especially if your cat likes a “gravy” texture to its meals.

You may also find that some kinds of kibble take longer to absorb the water than others, so mix them earlier and give them more time to soak the liquid up before you give them to your cat.

You should make sure that you only use as much kibble as you think your cat will eat at once. The kibble will continue to absorb moisture if it is left in the bowl, and your cat may find this unappealing if it goes back to it later.

Are There Downsides Of Adding Water To Dry Cat Food?

There are a few downsides associated with adding water to your cat’s dry food, and one is that it’s more complicated, and more likely to attract flies, go off, and smell bad once it has got wet. Dry food is convenient partly because it is dry, meaning it’s easy and clean to handle, it lasts well, and it doesn’t smell much.

Once you add water, all of these advantages disappear and you have to deal with soggy kibble that will soon start to deteriorate if your cat doesn’t eat it – so you can’t leave food out all day anymore.

Another disadvantage is that the wet kibble won’t clean your cat’s teeth as effectively as dry kibble.

Many people feed their cat’s dry food as a means of keeping their teeth clean and strong, because the dry food will knock off plaque and help to clean the teeth as the cat breaks it up.

Wet kibble doesn’t offer this advantage, although partially wetting the kibble may give you some balance and some of the advantages of both additional water and teeth-cleaning properties.

Furthermore, you may find that your cat doesn’t like the wet food as much. Many felines are fussy about any change to their diets, and prefer dry kibble to wet food.

Once you mix water in, they may refuse to eat it – and it’s harder to clean up a dish with dried up kibble than simply leftover dry kibble.

Can You Add Water To Dry Cat Food For Kittens?

Adding water to dry cat food should be safe enough for kittens, but it becomes even more important not to leave the food out for long enough for it to start developing mold or fungi.

You don’t want a kitten to ingest mold spores, fungus, or any other nasty organisms that may start to develop in the damp biscuits, especially if they have been left in a warm room.

That means you shouldn’t leave dry cat food that you have added water to out for more than half an hour if you’re giving it to kittens.

However, adding water to dry cat food may help to keep your kittens hydrated and also help them to adjust to the food being given in this way, which may make them more likely to eat it in the future. This is a big benefit if you want the kitten to get used to it.

You can also add formula to dry cat food if the kittens are just weaning, and this may encourage them to eat the kibble.

Both water and formula will also make the kibble easier for the kittens to chew, softening it enough for their mouths to cope with. There are therefore quite a few reasons that adding liquid to dry cat food could be beneficial when feeding kittens.

Does Dry Cat Food Expand When You Add Water To It?

Yes, dry cat food will expand when you add water to it, and this is actually another reason that doing so could be beneficial.

When your cat eats dry kibble, the kibble gets moisture added in the cat’s stomach, and this makes it swell – which will make your cat feel much fuller suddenly than it did when it initially ate the biscuits.

This can cause bloating, discomfort, and even vomiting, because the biscuits will no longer fit into your cat’s stomach as well as they did when they were dry.

By adding moisture before your cat eats them, you prevent this from happening and ensure that your cat is more comfortable after it has finished its meal.

It won’t eat more biscuits than the volume of its stomach can hold because the biscuits won’t get larger after it has eaten them.

Bear this in mind when deciding how much kibble to serve. If you add water, you’re going to get a greater volume of food, so the bowl will be fuller than when you added the kibble. Take the expansion into account when you are filling the bowl.


Adding water to dry cat food is a great way to help your pet feel fuller, make sure it is hydrated, and improve its comfort after a meal, so many owners have begun doing this. If you aren’t sure whether your cat will accept watery kibble, consider adding just a small amount of water to begin with, and gradually build up to the amount of water that you want, so that you aren’t dramatically changing the moisture content of the food in one day, and so your cat has time to adjust.