Just how fresh is the dry kibble you feed your cat?
Even though dry kibble stays fresh longer than wet food, it still has an expiry date.
So how long can dry cat food stay out before it goes rancid and loses its nutritional value?
🐶 Fun Fact
Dry Kibble was invented in the mid 18th century to replace the more expensive wet food. They packed kibble in plastic bags to free up metal for use in the Civil war.
Dry kibble goes through an intense heating process to keep it dry for long.
This prevents bacteria from multiplying hence keeping the kibble fresh.
So does this mean dry cat food cannot go bad?
Dry cat food has an expiry date as well.
But how you handle dry kibble determines whether it stays fresh for long or goes stale quickly.
What makes dry cat food go bad?
Dry cat food oxidizes when left out in the open.
This causes the dry kibble to develop a stale taste and eventually rot.
Proper storage of dry cat food can slow down this oxidizing process and maintain the quality of the kibble.
How do I store dry cat food?
There are several ways to store dry cat food and ensure it remains fresh for longer.
Fortunately, we also have dry cat food that comes without an expiry date.
These are the freeze-dried versions that remain fresh for longer periods.
But if you go for normal kibble with a best before date, you have three ways of storing it;
- Ziplock bags
- Airtight containers
- Freezing cat food
Once you open dry kibble, it is recommended that you store it in ziplock bags.
Ziploc bags keep oxygen out and ensure the kibble does not go rancid.
Once you put the kibble inside the Ziploc bag, squeeze out the edges to remove air before storing it.
Also, always ensure there are no tears or openings on the bags that will let air in.
Airtight containers are stronger and more durable compared to ziplock bags.
They are also easy to seal and open anytime.
Ensure the Tupperware containers you buy are labeled as airtight.
Some containers leave out spaces around the lid that let air in.
Freeze your kibble
Freezing dry cat food is ideal if you still want to maintain the original packaging.
Freezing prevents bacteria from growing and making the kibble stale.
Ensure you thaw out the kibble before serving it to your cat.
Huge chunks of frozen kibble can easily choke a cat.
One more thing…
Make sure the kibble bag is not damaged when you get it off the shelf. As you read the label, also inspect the packaging for any wear and tear.
How do you buy the best dry cat food?
How long can dry cat food stay out will also depend on the date you buy it.
Most pet parents take a quick glimpse at the expiry date before tossing the product into the checkout basket.
But there is something pet food stores are not letting you know.
Dry cat food remains fresh 6 months after the Best Before Date. Some pet stores mark down their dry food products 3 months before this date.
Dry cat food products are marked down three months before the ‘Best Before Date’.
Though the discounted price allows you to stock up on cat food, you also have to know that their expiry date is drawing closer.
Unless you are raising several cats at home, most of this cat food will go bad before you even use it.
How do I serve dry Kibble and ensure it stays fresh?
First of all, do not leave dry cat food out for more than 48 hours.
The oils in the cat food will oxidize and make the kibble go stale.
If you cannot be around to feed your cat, consider getting an automatic cat feeder.
You can program the cat feeder to serve your cat’s meals at specific times of the day.
Do you always serve dry cat food in clean bowls?
It may seem obvious, but a lot of pet parents rarely clean feeding bowls before serving their cat’s meals.
Leftover kibble may have bacteria on it that will ruin the quality of the fresh kibble you serve.
Also rinsing the bowl before serving does not get all the dirt out.
Some grime may remain in the bowl that will ruin the quality of kibble.
Always wash your cat’s feeding bowls with a scrubber and soap.
Leave the bowls to dry before serving the next meal to your cat.
The question, how long can dry cat food stay out, depends on how you buy it, store it, and serve it.
Shop for premium dry kibble with a longer shelf-life or no expiry date.
Consider getting airtight bags and containers to store the kibble in.
Serve dry cat food in clean bowls to ensure it does not go bad fast.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wet food carries plenty of nutrition but goes bad quickly because of its moisture content. Premium dry kibble equally has a high nutrient value with the added benefit of staying fresh for long. Either option is fine as long as your cat does not mind. If you are raising a picky eater, consider switching between wet and dry cat food once a while.
Cats like their food at room temperature. If you notice your cat does not want to eat cold food, consider warming it to room temperature. Also, note that cold frozen kibble is hard to chew and can choke your cat.
Dry cat food can sit out for a maximum of 4 hours in temperatures above 50 °F. In lower temperatures, 40 to 50 °F, dry cat food can sit out for 5 to 7 hours. As a rule of thumb, any cat food that stays out for more than 10 hours should be thrown out.
Stale dry cat food will have a sour, pungent, or rotten smell. You may also notice mold or bugs on the kibble if it got exposed to moisture. If your cat falls sick or experiences some discomfort after eating the food, it is likely the food has gone bad.