Wet cat food is often one of the best things you can feed your cat. It is generally higher in protein, has a lot more water in it, and is often better tolerated by sensitive or picky cats.
However, it does have a huge drawback and that’s storage. The problem here comes two-fold: what to do with cat food that isn’t going to be fed to your cat right away and what to do with the leftovers’ that inevitably exist for most cats who prefer simply grazing throughout the day?
Wet cat food can spoil fairly easily as it is high in moisture (leading to quick spoilage) and meat protein (which can attract and grow bacteria swiftly). Cat food that has spoiled can be fairly toxic to your cat, leading to vomiting or diarrhea. The best way to prevent this is through proper storage techniques.
How Long Cat Wet Cat Food Stay Out?
The first thing we want to tackle here is your cat itself. Most cats are grazers and nibblers – they prefer to have regular access to food throughout the day rather than being bound by set mealtimes. This is why dry cat food is so advantageous. Wet cat food on the other hand as a fairly limited free air’ time before it gets contaminated with bacteria that can make your cat feel sick.
In this case, we are looking at about four hours. Any longer than that and the food will likely be infested with bacteria. After about four hours, any uneaten wet food should be thrown away.
Storing Unused Food
If you are portioning out your cat’s wet food, then you don’t need to worry about losing an entire can just because your cat can only eat half of it! Food that is not going to be put out can be stored in a few ways:
- Store unused food in an airtight container and put it in the fridge. Even a Ziploc bag will do. The food can be safely stored for up to five days. After that, it should be tossed out.
- Some cat food can be frozen. This extends the shelf life up to about a month; however, you’re going to have to thaw it out before using it!
- Chilled cat food can be mixed with a bit of warm water to heat’ it before serving as many cats don’t like cold food. (Though my cat could care less).
Treat unused cat food as though it was unused meat that humans are going to eat later. It should be kept in a cold environment (around 4 degrees Celsius) to preserve it and it shouldn’t be kept for too long or it will spoil. Your cat may not be thrilled that you took away its food if it’s a fan of grazing all day, but cats can get accustomed to regular feeding times when given the opportunity.
What Kind of Containers Work Best for Storing Wet Cat Food?
Any sort of airtight container, including Ziploc bags, will work fine. There are specific cat food containers you could purchase, but honestly, I’m a fan of the humble Tupperware.
You can get small, sealed bowls to portion out your cans at any dollar store. The main thing to remember is that it must be airtight, and it should probably be marked or labeled in some way so that no one else mistakes the cat food for something edible for humans!
Storing Unopened Cat Food
Cat food in sealed cans can be stored in any dry place that you have access to. You don’t need to worry about keeping it chilled because the can will protect it. I like to store mine in a cupboard with dry cat food and their treats. (Due to a toddler, it often ends up hidden under the entertainment center, stacked in the middle of the kitchen or by the couch.
This has not impacted my cat in the slightest, though she does seem vaguely offended sometimes that he can play with it and she can’t eat it!) You’re aiming for a place that is cool (less than 38 degrees Celsius), dry, and not exposed to sunlight or water as these things will cause it to degrade faster. You can also store it in the fridge.
One of the things you should always check for is the expiration date. Canned cat food has a good shelf life when it is unopened, but even it expires. The expiration date is usually stamped at the bottom of the can.
Some brands even have a manufactured date too so you can really try to get food that will be as fresh as possible. And while checking the expiration date, also check the can itself for damage. If it looks damaged, damp, or moldy, throw it away.
Caring for Your Food Containers
Bacteria can grow just as readily on containers as on the food, so you want to pay attention to the state of your bowls, storage, and scoops.
- Wash your cat’s food bowl regularly
- Wash the containers you use to store the food once the food has been used up or thrown away
- Wash the spoon or scoop that you use.
Treating these as you would treat any of your dishes is sufficient: hot soapy water or a run through the dishwasher is fine.
If you’re using Ziploc bags, you can either dispose of them or wash them out, depending on your preferences. I’d recommend that if you’re going to reuse them, wash them out as though they are dishes, but keep them separated for use as cat food storage so that they don’t get used for other things.
We don’t often think about how to store the cat food that our cat isn’t going to eat right away, but proper storage is incredibly important. It saves on a lot of waste, prevents your cat from getting sick, and can even save you money since you won’t be throwing away food all the time.
As you can see, storing wet cat food isn’t hard to do and it doesn’t take any special materials – just a container and your fridge. No more wasting expensive food and no more vomiting cat!