Does Dry Cat Food Go Bad?

Yes, it does. Dry cat food will indeed last longer than wet cat food, but it also has a shelf life. It will have adverse health effects on your cat when it goes bad, so look out for this.

Dry cat food can go bad even when it has never been used or when it gets to its expiry date. It cannot go well quickly after you open it. So, shall you join us for a show on the road about this and much more?

Does dry cat food go out of use?

Yes, it does. And we have a few reasons why dry cat food goes bad, so let’s look into them;

Dry Cat Food Expires

Dry cat food, just like all other consumable products, expires after some time. Usually, it will have a shelf life of six months, after which you cannot feed your cat. Even if you haven’t touched the package yet, but the expiry date is due, you have to do away with the food.

If you insist on feeding the dry cat food beyond its expiry date, the cat may develop gastrointestinal complications. It may vomit, have diarrhea and have stomach sensitivities. When you may be saving on cost, you will end up spending more at the vet’s and on exceptional gastrointestinal cat food (what they do).

Dry Cat Food Taps Dirt and Bacteria

Keeping cat food in the open for long will attract ant, dust, bacteria, and other parasites. These substances cause the food to go bad, even if it isn’t yet proven bad. Even if it is kibble, generally staying longer, it is not suitable for eating after prolonged exposure.

Hence, if your cat bowl has had the same food for the whole day, throwing it to waste is the best option. If you let the cat feed on the same food again, you will expose your cat to illnesses.

Dry Cat Food is Affected by Heat

Dry cat food has the least amount of moisture of all cat food. Surprisingly, it also has its share of moisture, making it easy to chew for the cat. It is soft, despite its crunchy outlook.

Nevertheless, leaving the food in sunlight or a place with too much heat will lose the little moisture that makes it easily edible. When the cat tries to eat this food, they have to strain its teeth.

This may affect the cat’s teeth, especially for kittens and senior cats. And if the cat still manages to eat it successfully, it may quit the treat before it gets full due to boredom. Cats will not like to be on their food for so long simply because chewing is difficult.

Dry Cat Food Goes Bad Quicker After Opening

Once you open your dry cat food package, please give it a maximum of three weeks to go bad. Therefore, the cat has to consume the food within this duration, when the food is still safe for consumption.

In this case, the best thing would be to buy smaller sachets when your cat eats more than one type of food at a time. This will help you from having to throw away cat food more often because their deadline is due.

Dry Cat Food Durability Depends on Storage

You should store your cat’s kibble in a clean, cool, and dry place if you want it to last without going bad. UI mentioned that the kibble takes three weeks after opening to go bad. It also has a shelf life of six months.

However, these two dates are only possible if you keep the cat food well. However, it will have a shorter life if you keep it in heat or a damp environment. And, this means that the dry cat food will actually go bad, hence unfit for your cat’s consumption.

How to tell if dry cat food has gone bad?

Determining if dry cat food has gone bad is crucial to ensure your cat’s health and nutrition.

Here are some cues that I personally use for more than 10 years. Some clues are adopted from the advice got from licensed veterinarians.

  1. Smell: If the dry cat food has a different odor from its original scent, it may have gone bad. The change in smell can indicate that the food is rancid or contaminated.
  2. Exposure: Leaving cat food exposed to air or moisture for an extended period can lead to bacterial growth, dust accumulation, and spoilage. Even if the food smells okay, it’s best to discard it if it has been left exposed.
  3. Texture: Cat kibble that is too hard, sticky, or moist can indicate that it has gone bad due to heat exposure or moisture. If your cat struggles to eat it, consider discarding it.
  4. Expiry date: Cat food that has exceeded its shelf life, regardless of its smell or taste, may no longer be safe for consumption. Always check the package for the expiry date and discard it accordingly.
  5. Mold: Any signs of mold growth in dry cat food, especially when stored in a moist environment, indicate that the food has gone bad and should be discarded.
  6. Open sachet shelf life: Once you open a sachet of dry cat food, it is recommended to use it within 21 days, regardless of its smell or taste. After this time, the food may lose its nutritional value and freshness, leading to potential health issues for your feline friend.

According to MDPI journal research work, proper storage in an airtight container in a cool, dry place can extend the shelf life of dry cat food. By being aware of these cues, you can help ensure your cat’s food is fresh, nutritious, and safe for consumption.

How Long Does Dry Cat Food Last?

Dry cat food durability varies, as we have seen above. If it is stored well, it should last a maximum of six months after production. The best part about this is that it already has an expiry date already written, so you don’t have to guess.

An open dry cat food package lasts between 14 and 21 days. However, this period is only for cat food with excellent storage. And with good, I mean a cool place that is free of moisture.

If you expose the cat kibble to moisture or heat, the shelf life reduces significantly.

Then there is the cat kibble that you already served the cat. This kibble lasts for only a day, and after that, you will have to throw it away as bad food.

Does dry cat food go bad after opening?

Yes, dry cat food can go bad after opening. Exposure to air, moisture, and heat can accelerate the spoilage process, leading to a loss of nutritional value and freshness.

Once you open a sachet of dry cat food, it is recommended to use it within 21 days, regardless of its smell or taste.

After this time, the food may lose its quality, texture, and nutritional value, which can lead to potential health issues for your feline friend.

Can Cats Eat Expired Dry Cat Food?

Yes, they can. If the cat kibble still has its taste, especially for packages that just expired, the cat will still eat it. The poor pet has no way of knowing that the expiry date is due since it can’t read (pun intended).

Other than that, the cat may be too hungry to care if the food is good or bad. Especially for feral cats that eat anything in their path, the food quality will not matter. All they care about is how they can get their stomach full.

Cats are also tempted to eat bad dry cat food when the bad food is their favorite treat. Even when it is already in the dustbin, the cat may scratch and do all it can to get the food.

If you leave food already bad in the cat’s bowl, the cat will eat it. It will take it that the food is still suitable for consumption.

On the other hand, the cat may not actually eat expired dry cat food (did they get tired of eating same food). If the food is already foul in smell and taste, the cat will avoid it. Cats are pretty sensitive and tend to avoid anything that proves unfit for them.

Besides, if the food is already too dry, the cat will avoid it. Not because it is bad, but because it borders on being too difficult to chew.

Can dry cat food go bad in heat?

This will depend on how long the food is in the heat. If you leave the cat food out and are exposed to heat, it will not go well. The heat will introduce bacteria that come with warmth while getting rid of moisture in the food. Thus, the food goes bad.

cat trying to eat dry cat food

On the other hand, cat food will not go bad if you put it in the microwave for a minute to warm it. It is advisable to warm the cat kibble,m and a microwave is the best option. This way, you will have your cat eat more because cold food is not tasty for cats. After all, warming the cat food will prevent respiratory illnesses and add warmth to the cat’s body if it is cold outdoors.

How to store dry cat food for longer shelf life?

To extend the shelf life of dry cat food, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposure to sunlight, heat, and moisture, which can accelerate spoilage.

Additionally, check the expiration date and purchase only the amount you can use within that time frame.

If you need to store large amounts of dry cat food, consider dividing it into smaller, manageable portions and keep them in sealed containers.

By taking these precautions, you can help maintain the nutritional quality and safety of your cat’s food for longer periods, reducing the risk of potential health issues caused by spoilage.

Bottom Line

Dry cat food goes bad, so it is necessary to keep it within its shelf life. If you want to minimize trips to the vet for cat illness, always feed it food that is not spoiled. 

We have discussed typically all primary reasons why cat kibble goes bad. Look Out for these, and you may manage to keep your feline pet from possible food poisoning.

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Amelia Kteylor

Amelia Kteylor, DVM, attended the University of Georgia. She is a cat expert with 20 years of experiences in field. She has a passion as a writer and editor for pet publishing industry too. Amelia contributes to numerous pet magazines in the areas of pet health and groom. Further, she volunteered in cat rescue centers in her leisure time.

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