Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

How to Make Dry Cat Foods Soft: 5 Methods That Work

A lot of owners prefer to feed their cats dry food, whether as a solitary source of food or in addition to wet food meals. Many cats live a long and healthy life eating kibble, as long as they are given access to water to ensure that they remain fully hydrated.

But some cats don’t do well on dry food. Some won’t eat it because it’s too hard, while others, usually those that have been fed wet food in the past, will refuse to eat it because it is unpalatable.

In these cases, or if your cat suffers from painful teeth or dental hygiene issues, there are some steps you can take to soften dry food and make it easier for your cat to feast on.

cat face divider 2

Why Feed Dry Food?

cat waiting to eat, licking lips
Image by: Africa Studio Shutterstock

Several benefits are afforded by feeding your cat dry food, rather than wet:

  • Free Feeding – Free feeding, or grazing, means that you can leave food out for your cat all day long. Wet food should be lifted after some time. The exact time varies according to manufacturer recommendations, with some stating that it should be picked up after 1 hour and others stating that it should be safe to leave out for 4 hours. In any case, dry food can be left out all day so that your cat can eat as much as they like when they want it.
  • Longer Shelf Life – Once wet food is open, it needs to be fed that day. You can store an open packet in the fridge for a little longer, but dry food usually comes in a resealable bag and can be stored and used over several weeks. If left unopened, the food will usually keep perfectly fresh for several months so you can buy in bulk for greater convenience and improved savings.
  • Cheaper – Wet food carries a premium price tag, even if the food isn’t great quality. Even the best quality dry food kibble normally costs a fraction of the price.
  • Less Smell – Dry food causes less smell, before and after eating. The food itself can smell quite bad when giving wet food, and once your cat digests it, its poop will smell worse after wet food than it does after dry.
  • Less Mess – Similarly, there’s less mess before and after eating it too. If your cat is an active eater, and they tend to flick bits of food out of their bowl, it’s much easier to pick up dry kibble than bits of meat mush. The poop of cats fed dry food is usually firmer and more solid, although you will need to allow some time for transitioning to a new diet before your cat’s stomach settles down fully.

cat paw divider

How to Make Dry Cat Foods Soft

Despite the benefits of dry food, some cats cannot stomach it. Some simply don’t like the texture. Some find it too painful to crunch down on dry kibble. Whatever the reason, you can try the following methods to make dry food softer and increase the likelihood of your cat eating it all.

1. Add Water

The simplest method of moistening dry food is simply to add water. Try a ratio of 1 cup of kibble to about a ¼ cup of water. Use warm water because this will soak into the kibble more easily, add it to the kibble, leave for 10 minutes, and then serve it to your cat.

Bear in mind that over the day, the moisture will dry up and the moist kibble will turn to a kibble cement, so be prepared to lift your cat’s food bowl after an hour or two. You can serve the food still in any remaining water, or you can drain the water away and just serve damp kibble, whichever your cat prefers.

thematic break

2. Add Cat Gravy

cat gravy
Image Credit: Elizabett, Shutterstock

Human gravy tends to be salted and may contain additional unwanted ingredients like onion or garlic, but you can buy packets of so-called cat gravy. This is unsalted and is essentially the gravy that is added to some wet food recipes.

You can buy pouches of the gravy and add one to your cat’s food, but you need to check the amount that you feed and remember that this will count towards your cat’s daily food, calorie, and protein intake, so you should feed less kibble.

thematic break

3. Mix With Wet Food

Another alternative is to feed the kibble with wet food. Again, adjust the amount you feed accordingly to ensure that you don’t overfeed. The simplest way to adjust feeding amounts is to give half the recommended amount of wet food and half the recommended amount of kibble.

thematic break

4. Try Cat Milk

bowl of almond milk
Image Credit: Pixabay

Most cats are lactose intolerant, and you and your cat will regret you feeding normal milk. Even lactose-free milk is high in fat. Feline milk is a special formula that is safe and makes a tasty treat for your cats. Buy this and add a little to your cat’s kibble, but do remember that this too should be counted towards your cat’s daily food intake. Thus, you will have to reduce the amount of food that you feed every day as a result of giving some of this milk.

thematic break

5. Try Meat Toppers

Meat toppers are usually small pouches of food that can be used to pep up boring kibble. They are sprinkled on top of kibble. Some of them are quite moist and adding some of these toppers to your cat’s kibble will make them more palatable. It will improve the smell and the appeal to your cat, while also improving the taste.

Nom Nom Cat Eating Grey Bowl

Regardless of whether you feed your cat dry or wet food, you need a bowl that is sure to keep the mess contained—you can do just that with the Hepper NomNom Bowl.

This is designed with your cat’s comfort in mind. The whisker-friendly bowls are low and wide to prevent whisker fatigue, and the wide catch tray ensures that all food stays exactly where it should—inside the bowl.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

cat face divider 2


Ensuring good nutrition for your cat is important. This not only means providing the right amounts of protein, carbs, and fat, daily, but it means ensuring that you feed something your cat will enjoy and that benefits them in other ways.

Dry kibble is convenient, cheaper than wet food, and it usually means less mess before and after eating, but not all cats enjoy it and some might find it impossible to eat the hard kibble. Above are five methods you can use to help effectively soften cat kibble and make mealtimes better for both of you.

Remember to properly monitor the amount of food your cat is eating, which includes moistening ingredients like gravy or milk, and also bear in mind that moistening food in this way means that you might not be able to leave it down for day-long grazing like you used to.

You might also like:

thematic break

Featured Image: liudmila_selyaninova, Shutterstock,