If you’ve decided wet food is best for your cat, it’s important to keep your chosen brand of cat food safely stored. Food that is out-of-date, improperly stored, or exposed to air for too long can be harmful to your cat’s health. To store wet food properly, keep opened food refrigerated, store unopened food in a cool, dry place, and avoid common storage mistakes to ensure your cat is receiving a healthy meal.
Refrigerating Opened Wet Food
1. Put the unused food in an airtight container. If you did not use all of the food in the packaging, put it into an airtight container immediately after opening it. Do not leave the food exposed to room temperature air for any amount of time. A plastic container with an airtight lid or a zip lock plastic bag is okay to use.
2. Discard opened food after 4 hours. Even if you have food leftover, do not use it once it has been left out. Throw the food away if it has been exposed to the air for 4 or more hours. After 4 hours, there is a chance of bacterial contamination.
3. Store the airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Put the airtight container into the refrigerator. Ideally, it should be kept at 40 °F (4 °C) in the refrigerator. Throw out the food if you have not used it within 5 days.
4. Check to see if the excess food can be frozen. It’s also an option to store unused cat food in the freezer. First, check the packaging to see if there is anything warning against freezing the food. If not, divide the food into single-serve portions. This way, you can thaw individual meals as needed. Although food will last longer in the freezer, it is best to use the excess food within a month.
5. Keep opened refrigerated cat food for up to 5 days. Some wet cat food comes in cans, but you can also purchase refrigerated cat food. This type of food needs to be refrigerated as soon as you bring it home. If you have this type of cat food, once opened, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- If you haven’t opened the food, you can keep it until the expiration date.
6. Mix chilled food with warm water before serving. Cats typically do not like to eat cold food. Add some warm water to the food. This will heat up the food but not make it too hot for your cat to eat.
7. Do not mix new and old food. Don’t mix your older, stored cat food with a newly opened container of wet cat food. Although both may be okay for your cat to eat, you may be unknowingly contaminating the new food. Serve the stored food first, and don’t open the new food until you have used or thrown out the stored food.
Storing Unopened Cat Food
1. Check the best by date of the cat food. If unopened, canned cat food typically can be kept for quite a while. It is always best, however, to check the best by date on the can before giving the food to your cat. Throw out food that has passed its best by date, even if you recently bought it.
- If you just bought a can of cat food with an expired date, you can try to return it for a refund or exchange.
2. Keep the food in a cool, dry location. Do not store the food in a location that exceeds 100 °F (38 °C) Exposing the cat food to too much heat and humidity can cause degradation in the food. Store the food in a location where it won’t be exposed to sunlight or water. Putting the food in your cupboard or pantry is ideal.
- It is okay to store food in a very cold location. This will not lead to degradation of the food.
3. Throw away damaged containers of food. Even if you’ve stored the food properly, check the container before storing it. If you see that the packaging has been ripped, it is best to throw the food away. You should also throw out containers of food with visible mold or dampness.
4. Keep the original packaging. It is best to keep the food in its original packaging until you open it. After opening the food and storing it in an airtight container, do not throw the original packaging away. The packaging contains information you will need if the brand of food is ever recalled.