Can I Leave Wet Cat Food Out Overnight?

Can I Leave Wet Cat Food Out Overnight

Many pet owners prefer wet food for their cats because of the higher moisture content. Most cats do not drink enough water. Including wet cat food in their diets can increase their water intake which will improve their overall hydration. Although wet cat food is more palatable and has great benefits for your cat, cats rarely consume a full can of cat food in one sitting.

Can I leave wet cat food out overnight?

So can you leave the wet cat food out overnight? The answer is no. You cannot leave the wet cat food out overnight as it will get spoiled in one to four hours depending on the temperature.

Some pet food manufacturers recommend throwing away uneaten wet food after an hour while some say it is safe to leave the food out for up to four hours at room temperature. Anywhere in between in a cool room is probably safe. 

Take note also that there are many bacteria present in the air that could enter the food when exposed in the open. These bacteria mixed with the canned food could change its composition. When exposed for long periods of time, the canned food will be spoilt by this bacteria. 

There are instances, though, that cat owners leave wet food out for a longer period with no harm to their cats. It may be unlikely to be contaminated with bacteria such as salmonella, listeria or E coli. But less dangerous germs found in homes will still spoil the food eventually. 

Aside from that, wet food dries out fairly quickly. This makes the food unappetizing and inedible even an hour after being out. It’s still better to feed your cat with caution and serve canned or wet food only when it’s fresh.

Instead of wet food you should leave dry food for your cat overnight.

Preventing Spoilage

There are many ways to prevent the wet food from getting spoiled. Read below some tips to help you:

Serve in small portions. 

This is one of the simplest and easiest ways to preserve wet food. First, monitor your cat’s eating pattern and based on it, estimate how much food your pet is able to eat in a given meal. If you have kittens, give them two teaspoons of food at most, as their digestive system is not developed enough to process much food. 

Refrigerate the wet food after opening.

All canned cat food manufacturers recommend refrigerating the food after it has been opened. This is the best way to preserve wet food. However, cats usually do not prefer cold food. To solve this, put the next serving in a microwavable dish, cover with plastic wrap, and warm on a low setting for a short time. Make sure to not make the food hot, but rather, warm it to room temperature since the cats can not eat too hot food as it will burn their tongue and mouth.

Use disposable Ziploc bags.

Remaining food in the can could dry the food, especially when you keep it in the refrigerator. You can use Ziploc bags instead of just keeping it in the can. Using Ziploc makes it easier to warm the food by placing the bag in the sink and running warm water over it. As to storage, it will not occupy much space and can be squeezed anywhere. 

Check expiration dates.

All canned food has an expiration date. Check the labels and make sure to never give your cat expired food. For more information see our article on does cat food expire.

Feeding your pet wet cat food

Aside from having higher moisture content that helps in hydration, wet cat food has also other benefits:

  1. High Protein Content – Wet cat food helps in maintaining muscle mass of cats and also provides complete nutrition to your pet. 
  2. More variety in texture and flavors – Cats are known to be finicky eaters. They may get bored eating the same type of food over a period of time. Moist foods tend to have more flavor and stronger scent which makes it attractive to cats. 
  3. Less processed – Wet food goes through less processing stages compared to dry food. Less processed foods closely resemble proteins in their natural state.
  4. Easier for cats to chew – Wet food is an excellent option for cats with teeth or mouth issues that make chewing dry food a challenge.

Compared to dry food, wet food has shorter shelf life. If left out, it can spoil quite quickly because of its higher moisture content.