Dehydrated and air-dried foods for cats have been steadily gaining popularity among cat parents because of the convenience that the use of these products offers. Quality ingredients are subjected to natural processes of preservation-- air drying and dehydration -- which means their nutrients and enzymes are still intact without any artificial preservatives being added.


If you’re looking for pet food that offers similar benefits of a raw diet without the hassle of defrosting or refrigeration, dehydrated and air-dried cat food will surely be the top answers to your need.


Air-dried and dehydrated pet foods share the same important property-- their moisture content has been removed.


What is air-dried cat food?

The process of air-drying minimizes any adverse effects on proteins, vitamins, enzymes, and other nutrients that are present in raw ingredients. The air-drying process is a very ‘gentle’ way to remove water from the food.


What is dehydrated cat food?

On the other hand, the ingredients of dehydrated pet foods go through a process where moisture is removed using low heat. Before serving, dehydrated pet food is simply added with water or broth (rehydration).


With all the moisture removed during air drying or dehydrating, the growth of any pathogen -- bacteria, mold, or yeast-- is significantly inhibited. This is also an important reason why these products have a long and stable shelf-life.


Air-Dried vs. Dehydrated Cat Food: What’s the Difference?

The temperatures that the raw ingredients are subjected to remove moisture spells the main difference between air-dried and dehydrated cat food. For air-dried food, moisture is removed when raw ingredients are subject to air that is continually circulated. On the other hand, the ingredients of dehydrated pet foods are subjected to higher temperatures so whatever moisture is present will evaporate.


Are Air-Dried and Dehydrated Pet Foods Raw?

Air-dried pet foods may be considered raw because the ingredients were not subjected to a temperature that is high enough to cook the ingredients. But for dehydrated foods, the issue remains to be an open subject for debate.


Dehydrated foods are far from being considered ‘completely raw’ or ‘completely cooked’. Whatever may be the case, the nutrients that are in dehydrated pet food are still similar to that of raw food.


Some experts don’t view dehydrated foods as raw because of the temperatures at which moisture from the raw ingredients was removed. However, many dehydrated cat foods have been added with freeze-dried meat, which is technically raw.


Are Air-Dried and Dehydrated Cat Foods Complete, Balanced Diets?

Considering that there are many brands out there, it is a fact that these cat food products are not created equal. To ensure that you are giving your pet a complete and balanced diet, do make a habit of checking the list of ingredients. Go for reputable brands and make sure that the product is labeled “Complete and Balanced”. Steer clear of cheap, generic brands. For dehydrated cat food products labeled as “Mixes”, “Base” or “Toppers”, it is necessary to supplement meat to complete the diet.


Which Is Better: Air-Dried or Dehydrated Pet Food?

Each of them has its pros and cons. Many cat parents prefer dehydrated food because the added water during rehydration can help increase their pet’s water intake, especially since many cats dislike drinking water. If your furball does not have the patience to wait for his food to rehydrate, then offer an air-dried formula as it is ready to eat without any hassles.


Dehydrated and air-dried cat foods are convenient options when it comes to feeding raw frozen food. Whatever method you wish to choose for your pet should be able to meet his daily nutritional needs adequately while helping ensure that it fits your lifestyle.


Also read: Freeze-Dried, Air-Dried or Dehydrated?