Does Wet Cat Food Need To Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Hey there, fellow cat lovers. If you’re anything like me, you want the best for your furry little friend. And that includes their food. But when it comes to wet cat food, there’s always been a bit of confusion around whether or not it needs to be refrigerated after opening.

I mean, we’ve all heard different opinions on the matter. Some say it’s necessary for keeping the food fresh and safe to eat, while others argue that it’s not needed and could even be harmful. So what’s the real deal?

Well, as an expert in the field of feline nutrition (yes, that’s a thing.), let me tell you – proper storage of wet cat food is essential for your kitty’s health and well-being.

In this post, we’re going to dive into the nitty-gritty of wet cat food storage. We’ll talk about why leaving it at room temperature for too long can be risky business and why refrigeration is your best bet. Plus, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions like how long does wet cat food last after opening and how can you tell if it’s gone bad?

So whether you’re a seasoned pet owner or just starting out on your kitty-mom/dad journey, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about storing wet cat food properly. Trust us; your fur baby will thank you.

Why Should Wet Cat Food be Refrigerated After Opening?

Once opened, wet cat food can deteriorate quickly, making it essential to refrigerate it after opening.

Leaving wet cat food at room temperature creates a perfect environment for harmful bacteria and other microorganisms to multiply, leading to foodborne illnesses and digestive issues in cats. Refrigerating wet cat food slows down the growth of these bacteria and keeps the food fresh for longer, reducing the risk of health problems for your cat.

While some brands of wet cat food may contain preservatives or other additives that extend their shelf life without refrigeration, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and refrigerate them after opening. Check the label or contact the manufacturer for specific instructions on refrigeration to ensure that you are storing the food properly.

Aside from keeping wet cat food safe, refrigeration also helps to preserve the nutritional value of the food. Exposure to heat and light can break down essential nutrients in the food, making it less nutritious for your cat. By refrigerating wet cat food, you can help to preserve these vital nutrients and ensure that your cat is getting all the necessary nutrients from their meals.

When storing wet cat food in the refrigerator, it’s crucial to transfer any leftovers from the can or pouch to an airtight container. This prevents any odors from spreading throughout your fridge and maintains the freshness of the food for a more extended period.

Different Types of Wet Cat Food and Their Shelf Lives

Not all wet cat food is created equal when it comes to shelf life. Here are five important things to keep in mind:

Different Types of Wet Cat Food

Wet cat food comes in different forms, such as canned, pouches or trays. Each type has different storage requirements and varying shelf lives after opening.

Does Wet Cat Food Need To Be Refrigerated After Opening-2

Shelf Lives of Wet Cat Food

Canned wet cat food has a longer shelf life compared to pouches or trays. Unopened cans can last up to two years when stored in a cool, dry place. Once opened, the remaining cat food should be stored in the refrigerator and used within three to five days. Pouches or trays have a shorter shelf life, lasting up to a year when unopened and two to three days when opened.

Ingredients Impact Shelf Life

The primary ingredients of wet cat food can impact the shelf life of the product. Wet cat food made with meat or fish as its primary ingredient has a shorter shelf life than those made with plant-based proteins. This is because meat and fish are more prone to bacterial growth and spoilage when exposed to air and moisture.


The type of preservative used can also impact the longevity of wet cat food after opening. Some brands use natural preservatives like vitamin E or rosemary extract, while others may use synthetic preservatives like BHA or BHT. It’s important to check the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper storage and handling after opening.

Proper Storage

Proper storage is crucial to ensure that your cat’s wet food stays fresh and safe for consumption. Make sure to transfer any leftover wet cat food from the can or pouch to an airtight container before storing it in the fridge. Always check the expiration date on the packaging of your cat’s wet food and dispose of any that look or smell bad.

How to Properly Store Wet Cat Food in the Refrigerator

Properly storing wet cat food in the refrigerator is crucial for keeping your cat healthy and happy. Here are some tips to make sure you’re doing it right:

Refrigerate Immediately

Don’t leave wet cat food out at room temperature after opening the can or container. This can invite harmful bacteria to grow, which can be dangerous for your cat. Instead, put the opened wet cat food in the refrigerator right away.

Transfer Leftovers to an Airtight Container

To keep the wet cat food fresh and prevent it from absorbing any odors from your fridge, transfer any leftovers to an airtight container or plastic bag. This step will also help you avoid any cross-contamination with other foods in the fridge.

Label the Container with the Date You Opened It

Wet cat food should be consumed within 2-3 days of opening it. To keep track of how long it’s been in the fridge, label the container with the date you opened it. This way, you can avoid feeding your cat spoiled or expired food.

Keep Wet Cat Food at a Consistent Temperature

Make sure your fridge is set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to prevent spoilage or bacterial growth. Also, avoid storing wet cat food near raw meats or other perishable items in the fridge, as this may increase the risk of contamination.

Practice Good Hygiene

Handling wet cat food requires good hygiene practices to prevent any spread of harmful bacteria. Always wash your hands before and after handling cat food, and use clean utensils and bowls when serving your cat. This step helps maintain a healthy environment for your pet.

Benefits of Refrigerating Wet Cat Food After Opening

Firstly, refrigeration helps prevent harmful bacteria from growing in the food. Once a can or pouch of wet cat food is opened, it becomes exposed to air and moisture, which creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. By refrigerating the food, you slow down the growth of bacteria and ensure that your cat stays healthy and free from illnesses caused by consuming contaminated food.

In addition to keeping your cat safe, refrigeration also preserves the flavor and texture of wet cat food. These foods contain high levels of moisture, which means they can easily spoil if not stored properly. By refrigerating them, you extend their shelf life and maintain their deliciousness and texture for longer. This is especially important if your feline friend is a picky eater who may refuse to eat spoiled food.

Moreover, refrigerating wet cat food saves you money in the long run. If you don’t refrigerate it after opening, you might end up throwing away half-empty cans or pouches that have gone bad. By refrigerating the food, you can ensure that it stays fresh for longer, reducing the amount of spoiled food you throw away and saving you money.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat’s Food Fresh Longer

It can be challenging to keep wet cat food from spoiling quickly. Here are some tips for keeping your cat’s wet food fresh for longer periods of time:

Refrigerate opened cans immediately

Once you open a can of wet cat food, it’s crucial to store it in the refrigerator right away. This will help slow down bacterial growth and preserve the freshness of the food. Always cover the can with a lid or plastic wrap before storing it in the fridge.

Use airtight containers

If you prefer to transfer the wet cat food from the can to another container, make sure it is airtight. An airtight container will prevent air from getting in and causing the food to spoil faster. Plus, it will also help maintain the food’s texture and flavor.

Discard uneaten food after 2 hours

Wet cat food shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Bacteria thrive in moist environments, so if you leave the food out for too long, it can become a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms. Always throw away any uneaten wet food after 2 hours.

Serve smaller portions

Instead of giving your cat one large serving of wet food, consider serving smaller portions throughout the day. This will help reduce the amount of leftover food that sits out at room temperature and prevent spoilage.

Label your containers

To keep track of when you opened the container, consider labeling it with the date it was first opened. This is especially useful if you buy wet cat food in bulk or store multiple cans at once. By doing this, you’ll know exactly how long each container has been in the fridge and when it’s time to use or discard it.

Potential Risks of Not Refrigerating Wet Cat Food After Opening

You purchase high-quality wet cat food to ensure that your cat receives the essential nutrients and hydration needed to thrive. However, improper storage of wet cat food can lead to potential risks that may harm your pet’s health.

Bacterial Growth

One of the most significant risks of not refrigerating wet cat food after opening is bacterial growth. The moist texture and high protein content of wet cat food create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply. If left unrefrigerated, harmful bacteria can grow rapidly, leading to severe health issues for your beloved pet. These issues can range from minor digestive problems to more severe illnesses like Salmonella or E.coli.

Mold Development

Another potential risk of not refrigerating wet cat food after opening is mold development. Mold can grow quickly in wet cat food left at room temperature for an extended period. While some types of mold are harmless, others can produce mycotoxins that are hazardous to your cat’s health. These toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other severe symptoms, potentially leading to long-term health complications.

Pest Infestation

Leaving wet cat food out at room temperature can also attract insects and pests such as flies, ants, and rodents. These pests can contaminate the food with their feces, saliva, or urine, leading to health problems for your cat. This unsanitary practice is unsafe for your pet’s consumption and should be avoided at all costs.


In conclusion, it’s essential to store wet cat food correctly to ensure your feline companion’s health and happiness. If left at room temperature after opening, wet cat food can quickly become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and microorganisms that can cause serious health problems in cats. Refrigerating the food, however, slows down bacterial growth and keeps it fresh for longer.

It’s worth noting that different types of wet cat food have varying shelf lives after opening. Canned wet cat food has a longer shelf life than pouches or trays and can last up to two years when unopened. Once opened, however, it should be refrigerated and used within three to five days. Pouches or trays have a shorter shelf life and last up to one year when unopened but only two to three days once opened.

Proper storage in the refrigerator involves transferring any leftovers from the original packaging to an airtight container labeled with the date you opened it. It should then be kept at a consistent temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Refrigerating wet cat food offers numerous benefits, including preventing harmful bacterial growth, preserving its flavor and texture, and reducing waste. Not refrigerating it after opening can lead to mold development, pest infestation, and other potential risks.