How Long Can You Leave Wet Cat Food Out

If you own a cat, you will likely feed them wet food. Whether this is as an occasional treat, or daily, it is important to ensure that the wet food does not go bad.

While some cats will eat their wet food as soon as it is placed down for them, other cats are fussier and graze on their food throughout the day.

If you do not work from home and feed your cat before you leave the house, you may be wondering how long you can leave wet cat food out.

Unlike dry food, there is a limit to how long wet cat food can be left out, whether it’s in a regular bowl or an automatic cat feeder for wet food. In this article, we will be answering this question. We will also be talking about some of the ways you can help wet cat food stay as fresh as possible.

We are positive that this article will help you!?

Why It Is Unsafe To Leave Wet Cat Food Down For A Long Time

To begin this article, we want to discuss why it is unsafe to leave wet cat food down for a long period. This may not be something that you have considered previously, but like human food, cat food can quickly spoil.

If wet cat food is left at room temperature for an extended time, it could potentially become unsafe for your cat to eat. Dry cat food is a lot different in comparison to wet food.

While dry food can happily sit in a bowl for a long time before it goes bad, wet cat food has a much shorter expiration date.?

Wet cat food when left sealed in a pouch or a can has a significant expiration date because no air can reach it.

However, when the can or pouch has been opened and is exposed to the air, bacteria quickly multiply on the food.

This bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses in cats such as food poisoning, much like spoiled food can for humans.?

When a room is warm, or if it is a hot day, this will speed up the process of the food becoming spoiled, this is why you need to be careful with wet cat food.

If you do not feed the whole pouch of food to your cat, you should always place the remainder of the food in the refrigerator.

This will help to keep the food at a safe temperature to be fed later on in the day.

While it is unlikely that the cat food will become contaminated by harmful bacteria such as salmonella and e.coli, other bacteria found in the household can affect the wet food after a longer period.

This can still potentially cause your cat to become ill.

Now that you know why you should not leave wet cat food out for a long period, we will talk about how long the food should be left down.

Ideally, wet cat food should not be left in your cat’s bowl for more than four hours.

Anywhere between one to four hours is fine, but any longer than that and the chances of dangerous bacteria multiplying are significantly higher.

Given this, we would recommend only feeding your cat wet food when you are in a position to be able to pick it up and throw it away after four hours.

If you are leaving food down for your cat to graze once in a day, dry food would be a better option.

It is worth noting that wet cat food does tend to dry out rather quickly. When cat food starts to dry out this will affect the overall quality and taste.

As cats can be quite finicky, they are unlikely to eat wet food that has been left out for longer than four hours.

What To Do After Four Hours

If your cat still has not eaten all of the wet food after it has been down for four hours, you will need to throw it away.?

While we completely understand how frustrating this is, it is the best method to keep your cat nice and healthy.?

Pick up your cat’s bowl and throw the excess food into the bin. You should always give the cat’s bowl a thorough wash before you replace the old food with new food.?

While different people will have opposing opinions on how long you should leave your cat’s food down, as a precaution it is best to pick up the food after four hours.

While it is unlikely that your cat will become ill after a few hours extra of the food being put down, it is always better to air on the side of caution.

Smaller Portions

If your cat is consistently not eating all of the wet food you are putting down, you may be overfeeding it. This is a common reason why wet food is left over. If this is the case, we would recommend placing the cat food down in smaller portions to see if this improves how much your cat leaves.?

You can feed the wet food multiple times throughout the day instead of in one portion and this may encourage your cat to eat it all. ?If you have an automatic feeder, you can easily program smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.


We hope that this article has helped you to find out how long you can leave wet cat food out.

We would always recommend leaving cat food down for no longer than four hours. Leaving the food for longer than this does affect the overall quality of the food.

In addition to this, the longer the food is left down, the more likely it is that your cat could become ill with a food-borne illness. While there is a difference of opinion on how long cat food can be left out, we would recommend following the four-hour rule.

If you are looking for food that you can leave in your cat’s bowl for an extended period, dry food would be the better option.

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