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How Long Can You Safely Leave Cat Food Out For?

February 19, 2021

How Long Can You Safely Leave Cat Food Out For?

How Long Can You Safely Leave Cat Food Out For?

Unlike dogs, cats usually do not eat their food in its entirety as soon as you give it to them. Because of this, cat food often sits out during the day. The largest risk of leaving cat food out is the food spoiling. While fungi or mold takes days to grow and multiply, bacteria are much faster. In the right conditions, germs can multiply significantly within several hours, causing dangerous bacterial contamination by salmonella or listeria. Eating contaminated food can be dangerous for your kitty.

Does cat food need to be refrigerated?

Different types of cat food have different instructions to prevent the food from spoiling. Dry cat kibble will last much longer before spoiling than canned wet food. If you’ve decided that the low maintenance of dry kibble matches your lifestyle better, you can swap your cat's diet from wet to dry food. If you’re unsure of the type of food you should be giving your feline friend, use our cat food guide to decide!

How long can dry cat food stay out?

Since dry food creates less of an inviting environment for bacteria, kibble is less likely to become contaminated. Additionally, since dry cat food is processed at higher temperatures when it’s made, the cooking process is likely to kill off any bacteria contaminating the raw ingredients.

You can safely leave dry cat food out for several days and it won’t spoil, but it’s best to throw out leftovers and wash the dish on a daily basis, to keep Fluffy’s food at its freshest. Keep in mind that dry food will grow stale within a day and may not be as appealing to your cat once this happens.

Does wet cat food need to be refrigerated?

Canned food is considered sterile until opened, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated until the seal is broken. Wet cat food is thoroughly cooked in the can, and most formulas also contain some preservatives to help the food last longer. You can spice things up by giving your cat a variety of different flavored canned foods, which may help them fully clear their plates.

How long can you leave wet cat food out?

Once the can of cat food is opened, bacteria can contaminate it. There is a debate on how long wet cat food can sit out, but the general consensus is that it should only be left out for 1-2 hours indoors at room temperature. After a couple of hours, wet cat food will dry up and congeal and become less appealing to your kitty, and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

If your cat only eats part of a package/tin of wet food, put the leftovers back in the fridge immediately after opening. The next serving can be warmed to room temperature, as most cats don't like cold food. You can use zippered disposable bags for storing uneaten food. These bags of food can be warmed by running water over them in the sink for a few moments.


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