Does wet cat food need to be refrigerated if it’s in an opened can? The safe answer is yes. There’s a reason why human food packaging often says “refrigerate after opening” on the label. Even if your cat food can doesn’t say this, it’s always a good idea to keep it covered and refrigerated to protect it from spoilage. My cat is a finicky eater, and doesn’t like eating wet food that’s cold from the fridge, so I’ve found some great ways to work around this, if your pet is as fussy as mine. Today, I’ll take a closer look at why wet cat food should be refrigerated after you’ve opened it, as well as the pros and cons of wet cat food compared to other, non-refrigerated options like dry kibble.
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- Does wet cat food need to be refrigerated after opening the can?
- What are the different kinds of wet cat food
- Cat food can sizes
- Warming up canned cat food
- Wet vs dry food for cats
Does Wet Cat Food Need to be Refrigerated After Opening?
Human food and pet food should always be refrigerated after opening. The reason is simple: cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria in food. Bacteria is everywhere, even in the cleanest kitchens and highest quality canned food. Some bacteria will be in that opened can of cat food.
Bacteria thrive in warm, moist conditions, so keeping a can covered and cold can hamper bacterial growth. Food safety experts recommend keeping your refrigerator set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 Celsius) or lower to ensure that food is protected.
Different Kinds of Cat Food
If your cat is a picky eater, like mine, you can experiment with moist food flavors and textures. There’s a wide variety of wet cat foods, with different combinations of meat, fish, and even added vegetables . Food consistency is just as important as taste. You can try options like pate, shreds, flakes, cubes, morsels, and slices. Many of these shapes come in gravy, which cats tend to enjoy.
Keep in mind that if your cat doesn’t like one type of wet food, you can try others that have a different smell or mouth feel. You can also add toppers and complements that make the food more appealing, such as dried fish flakes or packets of cat broth. But, no matter which of the above types you choose, you should keep opened wet cat food in the fridge. This way, you’ll minimize the growth of bacteria on the food.
Cat Food Can Sizes
To cut down on the amount of unused cat food you need to store in the refrigerator, you can buy smaller sized cans. The standard size of many wet cat food cans is 5.5 ounces, which may be too much if you are only feeding one cat. Consider trying food that comes in a smaller 3 ounce can. 3 ounces is a popular size for many gourmet cat food brands. If you still need to store opened cans in the fridge, you can buy plastic covers that fit over the tops of both the 3- and 5.5-ounce cans.
Warming Up Canned Cat Food
There are several ways to warm up wet cat food from the refrigerator. Keep in mind that the food should be room temperature or slightly warm, not piping hot. You can run warm water from the faucet over the can or place the can in a bowl of warm water, making sure the lid is on tight. This warms the food with no added water.
You can also add a small amount of warm water to cold food and mix it through. This can be a good way to add extra water to your cat’s daily intake.
Should you warm up cat food in the microwave? It’s OK if you remove the food from the metal can and place it in a dish. Don’t microwave for more than a few seconds, because food that’s too hot can burn your cat’s mouth. Even though opened cans of wet cat food need to be refrigerated for safety, a little care will ensure that your cat will still enjoy mealtime.
Wet vs Dry Food for Cats
When it comes to choosing a food for your cat, wet food is a healthier option than dry food. Even though some cats prefer the taste of kibble, and some owners prefer the convenience of dry food. Wet cat food has a higher moisture content than dry food. It can be a good way to supplement your cat’s overall water intake. This can be important for cats that are prone to constipation.
Although different brands vary in quality, commercially prepared dry food tends to use lower quality proteins than wet food. Kibble is often made from meat by products coated with flavor enhancers. Quality canned food is more likely to contain real meat and be less processed than dry food. Vets often recommend a wet food diet for cats with a history of urinary health issues. This is especially true for male cats, as crystals in the urinary tract can cause life-threatening blockages.
While dry food can be left out for your cat to nibble on throughout the day, this is not the preferred feeding method for overweight cats. Controlled portions of wet food are a healthier option for overweight cats.
Which is Better for Good Dental Health?
What about the idea that crunching on kibble is good for your cat’s teeth? Dry food isn’t essential for healthy teeth. A wet food diet can be supplemented by dental treats, tooth brushing, and dental care at the vet’s office.
Does Wet Cat Food Need to be Refrigerated? A Summary
Storing your cat’s leftover food in the fridge is the best way to keep it fresh for longer. It will slow the growth of bacteria in the food, reducing the risk of your cat getting sick from eating it. While quality wet food is beneficial for your cat’s health, storing leftovers and getting your cat to eat cold food from the fridge can be an issue for some cat owners. But, follow the tips I laid out above, and you’re likely to experience fewer problems!
More Cat Food Advice
- How often do cats need to eat?
- Choosing a good food to help your cat lose weight
- Is homemade cat food the healthier option?
- ‘Why is a Refrigerator Important for Keeping Food Safe’, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2019)
- ‘Feeding Your Cat’, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Feline Health Center (2017)
- Frazier, A. ‘The Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care’, Plume (2008)
- ‘What Should I Feed My Cat? Wet Versus Dry Food’, International Cat Care (2019)