Obesity levels in cats are increasing and the main causative factor is higher energy intake v. energy expenditure over time. Therefore, altering energy expenditure by enhancing physical activity of the cat could be a strategy to reduce obesity. Hydrating commercial dry diets with water increased activity in cats; however, no study has compared this approach with feeding high-moisture canned diets. Eight healthy male neutered domestic shorthair cats were fed four different dietary treatments in a Latin square design. Treatments were a canned diet ‘as is’ (82 % moisture) and freeze-dried (4 %), a dry diet ‘as is’ (3 %) and with added water (70 %). Cat activity was measured continuously using Actical® accelerometers. Cats were group housed during the first 14 d of each period and then moved to individual cages for 7 d with faecal and urine production measured over the final 4 d. Intake was similar for each diet. The average activity over 24 h was not different between treatments (P > 0·05). However, the ratio between average activity during the day v. at night was higher when cats were fed the dry diet (P = 0·030). Total water intake and urine volume increased when the canned diet was fed (P < 0·001). The similarity in total activity of the cats on the treatments indicates that dietary moisture or diet type did not have a major effect on these cats. However, the stronger diurnal activity patterns observed in the cats when they were fed the dry diet are intriguing and require further study.