Looking for a soft or moist "dry" cat food.
June 20, 2012 9:09 PM   Subscribe

Is there a "dry" cat food with a soft or moist kibble?

I have a cat with feline leukemia who is an extremely picky eater (quite a feat for a former stray!). She utterly refuses wet food. I have tried and tried to get her to eat wet food but it just doesn't interest her. I have tried every kind of wet food I can find. I have tried mixing it with dry, offering it separately along with dry, microwaving it to make it smellier, but she still refuses it.

She loves dry food, but now has gum/teeth problems with make it painful for her to eat, so she only eats small amounts of it before giving up. She is losing weight.

When I noticed that she was having problems with the dry food, I bought a new (expensive) dry food with a very small, specially formulated, easy-to-chew kibble which she ate happily for a few months. But that now seems to hurt her too much and she only takes a few bites of it before giving up. She still acts hungry, following me around crying, "leading" me to the cat-feeding area, but she just sniffs at what I put down and refuses to eat it. She is being treated by a vet for her teeth/gum problems, but his only advice for me as far as getting her eating more is to add water to her dry food to soften it. She refuses to eat the softened dry food.

However -- she will eat as much fish or shrimp as I will feed her, but I can't afford to feed her solely freshly nuked fish or boiled shrimp. Also, I don't think those are nutritionally complete for cats.

So to finally get to the meat of the problem: does anyone know of a dry food with a moist/soft kibble? I have found lots of soft/moist cat treats, but none with a kibble that is soft/moist. This whole situation is complicated by the fact that I live overseas on a U.S. military base, so any food candidates would have to be purchased online and shipped to an FPO address.

I have googled and googled but so far I have found lots of cat treats, but no cat food that matches this description.
posted by Arethusa to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Google "Tender Vittles" or "Tender Vittles replacements."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:13 PM on June 20, 2012

Maybe mixing up the way you soften the kibble might help? Top of my head: tuna juice, oil (especially something smelly like sardine), or using a spray/mist bottle to moisten to it isn't 'overwet'?

Good luck.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 9:14 PM on June 20, 2012

I think the term you are looking for is "semi-moist" and most manufacturers stopped making it because of complaints about the sugar and salt content.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:24 PM on June 20, 2012

Now, it seems to be relegated to cat treats: http://www.purina.com/cat/products/treats/whiskerlickins.aspx

Otherwise I suggest warming up some chicken or fish broth and adding a bit to her food to see if she'll take it that way.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 9:37 PM on June 20, 2012

There is a powder made by Purina called Fortiflora. It's a probiotic, meant to be sprinkled on food after the cat has had a course of antibiotics, to help reestablish gut bacteria. But supposed it's made of the same flavoring powder that they use to make dry food super-palatable to cats -- so (again supposedly) it can help make any food more palatable if you sprinkle it on. Might be worth a try.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:39 PM on June 20, 2012

Do you know whether your cat likes chicken baby food? This stuff. It's been as enticing as crack for every cat I've proffered it to, and a small amount goes very far towards making other foods appealing. The grudging looks I've gotten when the baby food ratio is a little bit too low could power The Lockhorns for yet another year.
posted by breath at 9:55 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would try foods for senior cats. My parents' dog started having teeth and gum problems as she aged and regular food began to make her gums bleed, and they switched her to a senior dog kibble on the advice of their vet and found it was a lot softer for her to chew.

And, yeah, my dogs would eat dry leaves if we poured chicken broth over them.
posted by town of cats at 9:56 PM on June 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd try the dry kibble she likes soaked in the warmed liquid of a can of cheap tuna or salmon. Alternatively, you could try making a watery (cheap) tuna smoothie for soaking. Since she'll eat fish, it might be worth a try.
posted by cgg at 9:57 PM on June 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Trader Joe's sells Tuna For Cats. I don't know if it's nutritionally fit for a meal or meant as a treat, but reportedly it's stinky--you could mix it with wet foods to cover them up.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:33 PM on June 20, 2012

Also popular in kittyville: bonito flakes
posted by nicebookrack at 10:40 PM on June 20, 2012

When I fostered a baby bird I let dry kibble soften up in some water for a few minutes. It got quite mushy. Have you tried this with your cat?
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:56 PM on June 20, 2012

Re: baby food, be sure to get a kind that has NO onion or garlic. Those are toxic to cats.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:22 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you tried pouch food?

My kitty (who coincidentally also has teeth/gum problems) refuses to eat wet canned food but he absolutely loves this Royal Canin stuff that comes in a pouch. He'd eat that all day if I let him.
posted by Georgina at 2:42 AM on June 21, 2012

I've recently discovered some liquid sachets, which describe themselves as a sort of savoury yoghurt. Not sure if they're only available in the UK, but they're cheap and extremely popular with puss.

I can't remember the name offhand and my googling has been unsuccessful so far, but irt seems there's other similar products out there.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 5:28 AM on June 21, 2012

Not sure what kind of tooth problems your cat has, but have you considered switching to a diet of raw meat? When I adopted my cat from the shelter a couple of years ago, I was told she'd probably have to have a couple of teeth pulled in the future because she had severe plaque (the vet at the shelter said tooth rot, my vet disagreed and said early-stage gingivitis).

When I brought her home I started feeding her a raw diet, which she took to very quickly and with no fuss whatsoever once she figured out that the stuff on the plate was actually food. Now she's happily eating a quarter-pound of meat a day, and every third day she gets something bone-in (she especially likes poultry, and eats the whole bone). The vet now says she has the whitest teeth he's ever seen, she has no "kitty breath" at all, and overall is one of the healthiest cats I or my vet has ever seen.

In short: Raw diets really, really help teeth and overall health. If you're okay with a few stares from befuddled friends (and possibly a bit of a fight trying to get your cat to eat raw in the first place if she's used to processed food), look into it.
posted by Urban Winter at 6:09 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about going to the store and buying chicken innerds and frying them up for your kitty?

Our kitties love this stuff. Liver would be perfect. Just fry it up (I do it in schmaltz, but I'm old-school) in some oil. It's great for mashing and it will be easy on your kitty's teeth, plus it's really, really full of nutrients.

Or try it raw as Urban Winter suggests. Cats eat meat, that's what they evolved to do, so I'm sure your kitty will be fine with fresh meat.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:24 AM on June 21, 2012

Could you try softening the kibble with chicken broth or fish broth instead of water?
posted by insectosaurus at 6:36 AM on June 21, 2012

Speaking both of raw food, and making tuna (as a last resort) more nutritionally complete, when we fed raw food to our kitties, we supplemented with Feline Instincts, perhaps you could try adding that to anything that she'll eat, be it fish, baby food or ideally raw food. It's a pretty solid supplement and may help her regain health too.
posted by tatiana131 at 7:01 AM on June 21, 2012

Why not ask your vet for pain meds for your cat? If her mouth hurts, the problem isn't just what kind of food she's eating. Gabapentin can be used very successfully in cats, and has no long-term side effects, just some drowsiness for the first few days. I would urge you to look into this. IANAV and this is not veterinary advice blahblahblah, but we use this in the practice I work at on a regular basis.

The Honest Kitchen makes dehydrated raw diets, which are safe and very palatable for most cats. Failing that, I would look for a morsels in gravy style canned cat food, rather than a pate style.
posted by biscotti at 7:06 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have no idea how widely available it is internationally but Freshpet kibble is basically exactly what you're looking for. Pouch food, Fortiflora, and wetting kibble with chicken broth have all helped friends get their older cats to eat.
posted by lemonadeheretic at 8:59 AM on June 21, 2012

she especially likes poultry, and eats the whole bone
I was taught it's massively important to keep chicken bones away from animals as they tend to splinter and cause choking/internal injuries. Is this just an old wives tale then?
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 11:21 AM on June 21, 2012

Isn't it cooked bone that is dangerous?
posted by nicebookrack at 12:11 PM on June 21, 2012

Ah, that makes sense, thank you.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 1:13 PM on June 21, 2012

If you're going the make your own food route, be sure to read up from reputable sources. Eg, you need to add properly-formulated supplements that add the right amounts of the extra nutrients cats need. The issue about bone, as I understand it from internet reading, is that properly ground up bone adds necessary minerals - but you want to do your homework on this issue and talk to your vet to be sure you're doing the right things.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:54 PM on June 21, 2012

My aunt feeds her cat raw turkey (patties aka burgers). Since the cat wasn't getting enough water, she started mixing in water with said turkey.
posted by oceano at 12:08 AM on June 22, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. No best answers yet since I am trying out various of your suggestions to see if any of them meet with Her Felineness's approval. If one of them sticks, I will come back to update.

She is being treated for the pain, but I know from my own dental adventures that even pretty strong pain meds can only sort of mask that kind of thing and chewing can still be extremely unpleasant.

I think part of the problem lately is that she has figured out that if she holds out long enough I will feed her shrimp or fresh salmon (the only meat I have in the house). She has started eating more of the dry food again, but I would like to find a better solution, so I'll be trying your many suggestions.
posted by Arethusa at 4:39 AM on June 26, 2012

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