If not stored properly, cat food can get stale, grow bacteria and mold, lose nutrients, or become rancid. The way you store it has a great impact on how long the food remains fresh. Stale food also loses its taste, so you might think your cat is a picky eater or just spoiled, while they just don’t like stale food – like any of us!
If you want to ensure your cat eats fresh and healthy every meal, keep reading to find out how you can keep your cat’s food fresh by storing it correctly!
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How to Store and Keep Dry Cat Food Fresh
Many people think that dry cat food is good to use until its expiration date (sometimes labeled as “best by” or “use by” dates), even after the bag is opened. And the expiration date of most dry foods is usually months and months ahead. But as soon as that bag of kibble is opened, the food comes in contact with air, sometimes even moisture and heat. And that means the food started to degrade in quality and freshness.
You can keep the food fresher for longer by storing it correctly, but the oxidation is already happening because the food is now in contact with the air. That’s just a natural process that can’t be stopped. So it’s important to keep in mind the real expiration date of your opened bag of kibble instead of the one labeled on the bag.
Buy Smaller Bags of Food
Dry cat food that has been opened should be good for up to 6 weeks. But the less time the food has been in contact with the air, the fresher and the higher quality it is. I suggest buying smaller bags of food that your cat can eat in a short time instead of having a huge bag of stale food sitting around for weeks or even months.
Keep Food in Its Original Packaging
Always store dry cat food in its original packaging, and don’t put the kibble directly in a container. Cat food bags are designed to maintain food quality and retain nutrients. They also often come with a resealable zipper to keep the food fresh. To protect the food even more, you can use airtight containers to store the food bags.
Don’t Use Plastic Containers
Many plastic containers that pet owners use to store kibble directly without a bag are unhealthy. There are various types of plastic available to buy, and not all of it is suitable to use for food. When storing any food, you should always use the safest type of plastic. That is the plastic with the following labels:
- HDPE (2)
- LDPE (4)
- PP (5)
- PET (1)
Plastic containers can also easily get scratched, making an ideal breeding ground for bacteria that can contaminate the food.
To be more eco-friendly, it’s best to use glass or metal containers to store the bag of food. They will last longer, and they don’t pose a risk of leaking any nasties into your cat’s food.
A Few Other Things to Keep in Mind
After giving your cat food, squeeze out as much air as you can out of the bag before you zip it closed. If the bag is not resealable, roll the top of the packaging down and close it with a clip to prevent air from flowing inside. Then store it in an airtight container to protect the food even more.
- Check the bag before purchasing it to make sure it is not damaged.
- Don’t forget to periodically wash the container where you keep the bag.
- Keep an eye on the food’s expiration date.
Where to Store Dry Cat Food
Dry cat food should be stored in a dry and cool place, away from hot temperatures and humidity. Don’t store it in a garage, a shed, or another uncontrolled environment. If the smell of food is bothering you in your home, you can put the bag in an airtight container that will keep the smell in.
How Long Does Dry Cat Food Last
Dry cat food is good for a maximum of 6 weeks after opening the bag. That’s why it’s best to buy smaller bags of food that you can use in a shorter period. The food is of the best quality the first week after opening it. The longer the food sits open in a bag, the more its quality declines.
Unopened dry food can last until its expiration date labeled on the packaging.
How to Store and Keep Wet Cat Food Fresh
Always store wet cat food in a refrigerator after opening. The opened cans of wet food can last up to 5 days in the fridge unless it starts to smell off, then you should throw it away. It is best to store the wet food in a sealed container. You have a few options:
- Transfer the wet food in a glass or metal container with a lid (don’t use unsafe types of plastic that I listed above)
- Leave the food in its original packaging and put the food can in a container with a lid
- Buy a reusable cat can lid to seal the can
Some cats like my Fungi don’t particularly enjoy cold food directly out of the fridge. So I leave it out for 15 minutes just to get it closer to room temperature. She prefers it that way. Some people heat it before giving it to their cats.
How Long Does Wet Cat Food Last
Open wet cat food is good for up to 5 days if refrigerated. Uneaten wet food left at room temperature should be thrown away after 4 hours. If your cat takes a few hours or more to finish the entire portion of wet food, consider feeding her in two smaller portions instead, for example, one in the morning and one in the evening.
Unopened cans should be stored in a dry and cool location and not used after their expiration date.
Remember to wash the wet food bowl before putting a new portion of food inside to prevent bacteria or mold growth.
Yes, keep the opened cans of wet food in the fridge. Wet food exposed to air, hot temperature, or moisture can go bad in just a few hours.
Wet cat food can stay in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you notice a change in smell or anything unusual before that, throw it away.
Don’t keep dry or wet cat food directly in plastic containers. It is best to keep dry food in its original packaging and store the bag in an airtight container. This will create ideal protection for the food. Having cat kibble directly in a container will expose it to air, heat, and moisture much more than if it’s contained inside the original packaging designed to protect the food from those elements. Plus, many plastic containers cat owners use are not safe to use because they can leak chemicals into food when it is stored directly in the container. This poses a risk to the health of their pets.
When it comes to wet cat food, you can transfer the contents of an open can of wet food into a glass container with a lid, or you can keep the food in the can and put the can inside an airtight container. When storing food, make sure to use glass or metal containers and don’t use plastic that is not safe (see the list of safer types of plastic in the list above).
Yes, if you leave a bag of food in the sun or in the car on a hot day for too long, the dry food can spoil or lose its nutrient content. The heat could affect the quality of the food and its flavor.
If you’re feeding outdoor cats on a hot day, put their food bowls in the shade to shelter the food from the direct sun if they don’t eat it all in one go.