How Long Can Wet Cat Food Sit Out safely?

how long can wet cat food sit out

how long can wet cat food sit out before it goes bad or gets spoiled?

How long can wet cat food sit out? There are many individuals who will have different answers to this question, however in our real life experience wet cat food should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. After that time, bacteria can start to grow, potentially causing food borne illnesses. Wet cat food/soft cat food contains ingredients which include :

1.Meat and meat by-products (e.g. chicken, turkey, fish)
Water (to maintain moisture)
3.Carbohydrates (e.g., rice, corn, wheat)
Natural or artificial flavours
hickeners or gums for texture

These ingredients in wet cat food have the tendency to spoil over time when exposed to air and higher temperatures which in turn lead to spoilage, changes in texture, and nutrient degradation.Cats can exhibit various behaviours when it comes to eating, and these behaviour can vary based on individual personalities. They have the tendency to leave their food halfway while eating and this could be due to several reasons.

Hence, it is crucial to know  eating habits of your cat. This helps in preventing spoilage and wastage of wet cat food which we have addressed in this article.

how long can cat's dry food be left out?

Dry food unlike wet food can be left out for longer period of time without it getting spoiled. Dry food is made out of dehydrated meat processed at higher temperatures, because of which it doesn’t get spoiled when exposed to air.

However, it is always advisable to throw away any dry food which has been left over for longer duration or few days. Doing this will help maintain the freshness of dry cat food along with retaining the taste and crunchiness of the kibbles.

why does your cat leave their food halfway without eating?


Cats can be picky eaters and might have a preference for certain flavours or textures. If they don’t like a particular type of food, they may leave it unfinished.


Cats may eat until they feel full and then leave the rest for later. Unlike dogs, which tend to eat all their food in one go, cats are natural grazers and may prefer to eat small meals throughout the day.

Discomfort or Pain

If a cat is experiencing dental issues or oral pain, they might find it challenging to finish their meal and leave it unfinished.


Cats are sensitive creatures, and stress or anxiety can affect their appetite. Changes in the environment, routine, or the presence of other pets might cause them to leave their food unfinished.

Health Issues

Underlying health problems can also impact a cat’s appetite, causing them to eat less or leave their food unfinished.

What are the risks of Leaving Wet Cat Food Out?

Leaving wet cat food out for an extended period can lead to various health risks for your cat. Bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, thrive in moist environments and can multiply rapidly in wet cat food left at room temperature. Consuming contaminated food can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhoea, and other health issues in cats.

It’s essential to recognise that cats have sensitive digestive systems, and their immune systems might not be as robust as ours. Therefore, the risk of food borne illnesses is higher in cats, making it crucial to handle their food with care. 

What to do with leftover wet cat food?

Once your cat leaves the wet food halfway eating, you now cannot leave them out after knowing the risks. Now you must be wondering what to do with the leftover wet cat food. Here is what you need to do:-

1.Promptly refrigerate the unused food or leftovers in an airtight container. If you are using a wet food can, you can use the lid to cover and keep the food fresh and safe for consumption.

Even if the leftover meal consists of dry kibble and wet food, refrigeration is still necessary.

Make sure to slightly warm the refrigerated food before feeding them to your cats as some cats do not like eating cold food.

How long can you refrigerate the leftover wet cat food?

24 to 48 hours is the timeframe you can keep the food refrigerated. It should be consumed after this timeframe. Keeping the food refrigerated for more than 48 hours can reduce the freshness of the wet food and make it less appealing for your cat.This time frame ensures that your food remains safe and fresh, maintaining  the quality and nutritional value of the wet food.

Also remember to allow the leftover wet cat food to cool down to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator. Putting the hot food directly inside the fridge can create temperature imbalances and affect the overall quality of the food.

You can always read the back of the label of the wet cat food pouch/can which might have specified the time frame you need to refrigerate. Below is an example of label of wet cat food packet mentioning about refrigeration time:

label analysis on refrigeration duration

How do you get your cat to eat wet food at once without leftovers ?

1.One of the primary reasons for wet cat food wastage is serving large portions of meals that exceed your cat’s appetite. To prevent this, practice ‘portion control’ and try to feed small amounts of wet food. You can observe your cat’s eating habits and adjust the amount of food you feed accordingly. This is just to ensure they finish their meal without leaving it halfway.

2.When you are introducing a new brand of wet cat food, do so gradually to prevent wastage. You can mix the new wet food with the old one, allowing your cat to adjust to the change.

By following these tips, you can prevent wastage of wet cat food and provide a healthy and sustainable feeding routine that is good for your cat’s health.

What are the tips to prevent spoilage of wet cat food?

1.When feeding wet cat food, store any unused portions in a sealed container in the refrigerator. As informed earlier refrigeration slows down bacterial growth and helps preserve the food’s quality and safety. Refrigeration will prevent spoilage of the leftover wet cat food.

2.Remember to keep the wet food covered inside the refrigerator. If you are using a can, cover it with a lid. This will avoid the food being spoiled and will preserve the freshness of the wet cat food.

3.Make sure to check the expiry date of the cat food brand you are buying for your pet. Do not go for something which is going to expire in the near future. This will prevent unnecessary spoilage of wet cat food.

4.Clean your cat’s feeding bowls with hot, soapy water to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria that can spoil the food. Rinse the bowls thoroughly before refilling them with fresh wet cat food


To answer the question of how long can wet cat food sit out, it can be concluded that wet cat food can sit out safely for a maximum of two hours. Beyond this time frame, the risk of bacterial contamination increases, potentially leading to health problems for your cat. To ensure your cat’s safety and well-being, adopt proper feeding practices, serve the appropriate portion size, and store any unused wet cat food in the refrigerator promptly. Remember, your cat’s health is in your hands, and with proper care, you can provide them with a safe and delightful dining experience every time.