I’ve spent weeks researching if cat food can go bad and found some pretty interesting stuff that I’d like to share with you.
Does Cat Food Go Bad?
Yes, both wet and dry cat food go bad. Cat food goes bad whether it is sealed or open, the only difference is how quickly the food will go bad.
The more important question is how long does it take for cat food to go bad. Wet cat food goes bad much quicker than dry cat food but keep in mind that both types of cat food do go bad. The best by date on food packaging is usually six months after the food has been manufactured and should be consumed by your cat within that time period
Cats should not be given any food that has passed their expiration date as after the best buy or expiration date, the food starts losing its nutritional value and may have mould or bacterial growth which could cause issues to your cat.
How Long Does it Take for Cat Food to Go Bad?
Unopened dry cat food can last for around 6 to 12 months from its manufacturer date. Ideally dry cat food should be given to cats for 14 to 21 days once the bag has been opened. After this, the dry cat food starts to lose its nutritional value and may not be sufficient for your cat’s needs.
Cats can still be given dry cat food 3 months after it has been opened but as stated, its nutritional value will go down the more time has passed since it was opened.
Dry cat food can be left out in your cat’s bowl for a full day without it being spoiled. But it is best to throw out the remaining food at the end of the day and wash the bowl thoroughly.
Unopened wet cat food can last between 4 months to 3 years outside of the fridge. But once opened it is exposed to air, bacteria and warm temperature that speeds up the rate at which food goes bad. Open wet cat food should be used within 5 to 7 days and should be kept in the fridge sealed once opened.
Open wet cat food can only be kept at room temperature or in your cat’s bowl for around 4 hours. Do not leave wet food in your cat’s bowl for a full day as it can increase the risk of dangerous bacteria developing in the food that can make your cat sick. If your cat doesn’t eat the full serving in their bowl, cover up the wet food and place it in the fridge. Warm the food in the microwave and serve it to your kitty again.
How Do You Tell If Cat Food Has Gone Bad?
There are a couple of ways you can tell if the cat food has gone bad.
- Looks Funny: When it comes to your cat’s food, looks do matter. If the food looks not the same as when you first opened it, maybe there is mould or insects crawling on the food. If you squeeze a pallet and it is soft and squishy, there is a good chance that the food has gone bad.
- Expiry Date: Always check the expiry or best by date on the cat food to make sure you are not giving your cat anything that has gone bad. After the expiry or best by date, the preservatives in the cat food don’t work so well and the food starts decomposing giving way to bacteria and mould. If the food is past its expiry or best by date, get rid of it.
- Trust Your Cat’s Instincts: If your cat refuses to eat the food, there is a very good reason for that and the reason usually is, the food is not good for it. You can try giving the cat pallets from fresh cat food and if the cat eats the fresh ones and not the old ones, you know the old ones have gone bad.
- Smells Really Bad: Human noses are really good at detecting food that has gone bad. If the cat food smells really bad, take no risks and do not feed it to your cat.
- Cat in Discomfort: If your furry friend shows any sort of discomfort after eating the food. Check the cat food for all the above and get your cat fresh cat food.
If the cat food smells really bad and rotten, has even a little bit of mould or creepy crawlies, has been left out in hot and humid conditions or if your cat shows any form of discomfort after having the food are all signs of cat food that has gone bad.
You must neve serve any cat food that’s past its expiry date, whether it’s spoiled or not.
What Actually Happens to Cat Food When it Goes Bad?
As the cat food gets old, its nutritional quality decreases due to the natural breakdown of preservatives and fats, is more susceptible to mould and contaminations, breakdown of fats and preservatives losing their power over time.
All edible products for humans and animals have a natural breakdown process and are not meant to last a very long time. That means with time cat food starts to lose its nutritional value and will not provide the nutrition your cat requires.
Preservatives which are commonly used in cat foods are also affected by the natural breakdown process and lose their power to preserve food and help it not lose its nutritional value. But as the preservatives become less effective, food starts to go bad.
How Do You Get Cat Food To Last Longer?
Always keep unopened wet or dry cat food in a dry and cool place away from direct sunlight. Always store cat food in their original packaging. The original packaging is specifically designed to keep fresh and nutritious. Air is a big contributor to cat food going bad, if you have opened a dry cat food bag, you might consider putting the food in an airtight container.
For wet cat food, once opened, place the unused food in an airtight container and place it in the fridge at 40 °F (4 °C). The food will not spoil for five days. For the wet food in the cats bowl that has not been eaten, throw it away. Also check the labels to see if wet food can be frozen.
Can I Feed Expired Cat Food to My Cat?
It is not advised to feed your cat expired cat food. Although they should be okay, the food has lost its nutritional value and will not be able to give your cat all the nutrients that it requires. Expired cat food also carries the risk of causing discomfort to your cat so it is best not to give expired cat food to your furry friend.
What Happens If Cat Eats Expired Cat Food?
Cats are fussy eaters so they will avoid any food that is too spoiled. That said, if the food is slightly spoiled and your cat eats it, it can lead to an upset stomach or discomfort shown by your cat.
If your cat shows any symptoms of discomfort or upset stomach, take them to the vet immediately.
Does Cat Food Go Bad in a Hot Car?
If the cat food has been left in a hot car for a small amount of time, it will not spoil the food but will affect its flavour, fragrance and quality. It will have all of its nutritional value but your cat might not like the taste as much.
If the cat food has been in the hot car for an hour, it has not spoiled and you can give it to your cat. Periods longer than that can affect the quality of the cat food and potentially lead to spoilage.
What to Do With Expired Cat Food?
If you have purchased cat food that has passed its best by date, return it and they will replace it with a new bag.
The Bottom Line
I hope this article gives you enough information on cat food going bad. Whether your cat prefers dry or wet cat food, always make sure you feed your cat fresh and good food.
Go ahead and make sure the food you are feeding your cat has not expired or gone past its best buy date or shows any signs of being spoiled.
Always store cat food properly and when you shop always check the expiration or best by date.