How Long Can I Leave Cat Food Out?

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How Long Can I Leave Cat Food Out?

When it comes to cats, their eating habits change constantly. Some cats may prefer to eat cat food every two hours with playing breaks in between, while some felines may eat only twice throughout twenty hours.

Depending on the cat breed and personality, your cat may develop different habits throughout its lifetime, changing drastically when shifting into adulthood.

Being the cat owner, you have to be extremely mindful of your cat’s eating habits and always ensure that they eat fresh, healthy food. In this article, we will be looking at how long you can leave cat food out.

Feeding Timings

To avoid obesity and other health-related diseases and problems in cats, such as diabetes, viral/bacterial infections, etc., you have to be highly cautious when your cat is eating.

As mentioned earlier, cats have different personalities and health levels; some may love to munch on their cat food every hour, while some might stay full the entire day after eating one heavy meal.

If you have a cat who has just reached adulthood, it would be advisable to allow your cat to eat two or a maximum of three meals per day. Since cats cannot remember and keep track of their eating habits, it is your job to ensure that your cat is eating plenty and gains all the nutrients such as vitamins, natural fats, protein, and water.

A gray and white cat is eating food from a bowl

Wet Cat Food

Suppose you have a cat that has been eating wet cat food and does not prefer to nibble on hard cat food. In that case, you have to pay close attention, as you do not want your cat food to end up being contaminated with harmful bacteria or viruses that could cause a threat to the health of your feline.

Wet cat food usually comes in packets or small sachets, and once opened, it cannot be sealed. Hence to ensure safety, you should always pour the wet cat food only when your cat comes near its food bowl and starts meowing.

As mentioned before, keeping track of its eating time is also essential. If you accidentally left the wet cat food out for too long, you could discard it and give fresh food.

Should Cat Food Be Left Out?

One of the most important questions that many cat owners have is regarding their food and what they should do with the extras left after the cat is done eating.

Wet cat food

When it comes to air, there are many particles and virus droplets, bacteria that may not cause harm to humans but can be life-threatening to cats. These harmful microorganisms and particles could enter your cat’s food if left out in the open air for too long.

Another thing to note is that the longer the wet food or any cat food is left out, the less its nutritional value will get, and as a result, your little loved one will not feel like eating it. Hence to avoid wastage and high food bills of cats, it is best that you only pour cat food in small portions.

Why Do Cats Leave Their Food?

The most common thing that every cat owner experiences are their cat not finishing food or taking endless breaks. Unlike humans, who can fixedly eat their food, cats cannot stay still and finish their entire cat food unless they are starving.

Several reasons may cause your little loved one to leave their food, the most common being food quality. You may not know this, but some cats are particularly picky with their food type as they are fragile to certain textures and flavors.

Another reason could be boredom, as cats can get bored easily eating the same flavor of cat food over time.

Cat food with feline on background

If you notice that your cat has been leaving its food bowl uneaten, then it is best that you gradually try to switch the flavor or even the brand of the food, and meanwhile, you could put the cat food back as soon as your cat finishes eating midway.

Should I Refrigerate Leftover Cat Food?

Many cat owners may not know this, but when it comes to canned or packet jelly cat food, it is only sterile before it is opened. As soon as it’s used, it loses its freshness and cleanliness. Unless your cat food has a seal or any way to close and remain fresh, it is good to keep certain cat food refrigerated.

For instance, you could try keeping liquid cat treats in the refrigerator for an hour or two to maintain their freshness for a longer time. Although keeping cat food in a refrigerator can extend its shelf life, most cat food comes with added preservatives and safe chemicals that prevent the food from getting rotted in a day or two.

Dry cat food

Different Feeding Types for Cats

Earlier, we discussed how important it is to keep a close eye on your cat’s eating habits; however, besides this, another important thing that you should do is try different feeding types so that your cat does not get bored.

For example, you could try combination feeding, which is when you allow your cat to eat wet canned food twice and keep dry food available throughout the day. This will ensure that you can easily monitor your cat’s eating habits and will most likely keep your cat satisfied and content.

Even if you decide to keep cat food out in the air despite the risks, one thing you should keep in mind is the temperature. If you feed your cat canned foods, they should always be stored in a place where the temperature is around 40 to 45 Fahrenheit for up to a week and not more than that.


So hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what to feed your cat and whether or not leaving cat food open in the air is a safe thing to do or not. Your cats need to be protected from harmful diseases and germs, and you could do this by keeping an eye on your cat food.

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