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Pet Blog

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 cat food. If you’ve decided that the low maintenance of dry cat 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, cat 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 your furry friend’s food at its freshest. Keep in mind that dry food will usually 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 cat food, including pate, is sterile and doesn't require refrigeration until opened, ensuring it stays fresh. Most healthy wet cat food is thoroughly cooked within the can, and many varieties include preservatives to extend shelf life. But can cat food get stale?

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 is not eating their all of their canned cat food in a single sitting, it might be because you’re giving them too much. Thankfully we have you covered on how much the average cat should be eating with our cat feeding blog.

If your cat only eats part of a package or 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. Offering a variety of flavors throughout the week can entice your cat to finish their meals, reducing the worry about leaving food out for too long.

Helping your cat eat right.

Understanding how long you can safely leave cat food out is essential for your feline's health. Whether you choose dry kibble or healthy wet cat food, including delicious pate varieties, ensuring the freshness and safety of your cat's meals is a priority. Remember, dry cat food can stay out longer, but it's best to keep it fresh daily. Wet cat food, on the other hand, should only be left out for a couple of hours to avoid bacterial growth and spoilage.

If you're still uncertain about the best feeding practices or how much to feed your cat, our cat feeding blog offers valuable insights. Also, for a wide range of cat food options that suit your kitty's preferences and lifestyle, don't forget to check out our collection of high-quality cat foods. Keep your cat happy and healthy by choosing the right food today!


Updated December 29 2023