Ever Wonder Why Dry Cat Food Is So Hard?

  • Time to read: 6 min.

Have you ever seen your cat chew on their dry kibble cubes, and it sounds like they are chewing on concrete blocks? Trust me, you are not the only cat owner that has looked at their cat and wondered what these shapes are made of to make them seem like rocks!

Commercial dry cat food is produced by mixing wet and dry ingredients together to form a constant, well-combined mix. The mix is then baked in a massive oven, similar to the way you would bake cookies. The kibble is then dried and cooled and often spray-coated, all of these making your cat’s food harder.

How dry cat food is produced to be so hard certainly is an interesting subject, but whether dry cat food is too hard for a cat and their teeth is even more interesting. Continue reading as we answer all these questions, so you will be able to make an appropriate choice when feeding your kitty!

Why Is Cat Food So Hard?

In dry cat food, animal derivatives are commonly used in a meal form (including chicken meal, which is a poultry by-product meal), where they are cooked after the fat has been removed. The remaining material is then dried to create a dry meal.

 Other dry by-products are also used in fresh or frozen forms. In addition, several of the other ingredients, such as cereals, grains, and vegetables used in dry cat food, come in dry form and are milled or ground prior to mixing. Some of the dry cat food recipes are also likely to include oils, fats, vitamins, and minerals required to ensure that the product still delivers all the essential nutrients your cat needs. 

Dry cat food is essentially made by mixing dry and wet ingredients together to form a consistent dough. In the extrusion process, the dough is then heated under great pressure, then pushed through a machine that cuts the kibbles while expanding due to pressure changes.

The kibbles are then dried, cooled, and spray coated. Most dry foods may also be produced by baking, which is very similar to the process of extrusion. After extrusion and cutting, the kibbles are air-dried in an oven to remove water and are then cooled. Reducing the moisture content of kibbles is crucial in maintaining freshness, but it also makes your kitty’s kibble significantly harder.

After drying and cooling, the kibbles are often rotated in a revolving drum where they are evenly coated with a mix of flavors to enhance taste and smell, with preservatives. These flavors then dry, forming a hard layer around the already dry kibble.

Is Dry Cat Food Too Hard For Cats?

Most cat owners feed their cats dry food because it can be left out during the day when their cat is home alone without spoiling. This is effective because canned food containing wet cat food may spoil and cause harm to your kitty’s health. But is dry cat food too hard for cats? 

Purina Fancy Feast Dry Cat Food, with Savory Chicken & Turkey - 3 lb. Bag

The myth that dry cat food will clean your cat’s teeth just doesn’t seem to die. This is called a myth because most cats never chew their kibble for long enough so that any of the scrapings against the kibble will clean their teeth. As our cats age, they lose teeth, which means they will not be able to eat their rock-hard kibble for the rest of their lives. 

Some pet food manufacturers offer a diet called a “dental diet” that is made up out of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but most cats will just swallow these cubes whole. Additionally, dry cat food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages the rapid growth of tartar and plague.

Should Your Cat Eat Dry Food?

In addition to the hard texture of dry cat food, dry cat food also contains a large amount of fat and carbohydrates. A diet consisting out of too many carbohydrates is one of the leading and main causes of obesity and diabetes in felines.

While cats certainly do need a small number of carbohydrates in their diets, they are carnivores by nature, and their bodies will thrive best on meaty proteins, as well as fatty acids. In addition, dry cat food typically contains much more carbohydrates than wet or raw food because dry foods use grains such as cornmeal and rice to process the kibble. 

Some dry cat foods even contain proteins from vegetables rather than meat, which is definitely not ideal for your carnivorous cat. Instead, your cat needs a type of dry food that is low in carbohydrates and high in animal fats and animal proteins. While some dry food does contain an acceptable and healthy amount of carbohydrates with little to no grain or vegetable products, it is usually specialty brands. 

When you are shopping for dry cat food and want to make the best choice you could possibly make, read the ingredients list. Try to minimize ingredients stemming from corn, beans, peas, rice, or potatoes. Make sure that regardless of what you choose, your focus is on the nutrients the dry cat food contains.

Another thing about these hard, dry kibble cat food is the moisture content. Cats typically drink little water throughout the day. In fact, they have a reduced thirst drive compared to other pets, meaning that they sometimes don’t feel thirsty, even when they are dehydrated. As a result of this, cats always rely on their food as a major source of their daily water intake.

Naturally, wet cat food contains a lot more water content than dry kibble. Dry food does not stimulate what your cat would eat in the wild, as even small prey will contain more moisture than dry cat foods. 

In addition, extra moisture promotes kidney, bladder, and urinary tract health issues for your cats. On the other hand, prolonged dehydration can irritate your poor cat’s urinary tract and could possibly lead to kidney disease.

If you see that your cat prefers dry food and notice that they have not been drinking enough water, you can always get creative and try to sprinkle some water on their food! This is an easy way to get one of the benefits of wet food without having to upset your cat’s stomach by changing brands! 

Pouring some hot water on your cat’s food and allowing it to cool will instantly make your cat more interested in their food and will make the hard kibble much easier to chew. However, it is important to remember a few small things when you are pouring water over your kitty’s dry kibble. 

You should let your vet know and hear their opinion based on your cat’s age, weight, and overall health. You should also make sure not to add too much water, as the dry food can become soapy. Remember, when adding water to dry food, you are reducing the time you can leave the meal outside for your cat.

 Wet meals should never be left out for longer than 15 minutes, as bacteria could grow, spoiling your kitty’s food.

 If you decide that it is crucial to change your cat’s food, it is important to change their food gradually, as cats are picky eaters and will not hesitate to reject their food and go on a hunger strike!

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter whether you have an older or younger kitty. It ultimately would be the best choice to offer them a portion of wet food, as well as dry food, as they will then be able to reap all the possible benefits without abrupting or changing their diet meal times completely.

When you are thinking about your cat’s health and dietary needs, you could always talk to your local veterinarian. It is easy to think you only have to contact your local vet when there is something wrong with your kitty, but your vet can also be a valuable source of wellness information too!

Your vet is in tune and has extensive knowledge about your cat’s special needs and can help you to deal with food allergies, weight problems, dental health and prolonging, and other issues that your cat’s diet could cause.

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