How Long Can Wet Food Sit Out?

How Long Can Wet Food Sit Out?

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A canned food diet can be extremely beneficial for our feline friends. With how often you’ll be cracking open a can of tasty wet food, you may wonder; how long can wet food it out?

wet food article

In this article we’ll answer the question of how long your cat’s wet food can sit out, and the possible risks that come along with leaving it out for too long. 


So how long can wet food sit out?

The safe zone for leaving wet food out ranges from 2-4 hours based on who you ask. While some companies recommend pulling any left over wet food within the hour of you serving it to your cat, others believe you can leave it out for up to 4 hours with any risks. 

So what are the risks of leaving your cat’s canned food out too long?

What happens if you leave wet food out for too long?

We wouldn’t eat food that we’ve left uncovered on the counter for hours on end, and we should treat our cat’s food the same way as well. Not only can this become unappetizing for our furry friends, but it can also pose a great risk to their health. 

Some of the potential risks of leaving your cat’s canned food out too long include:

Bacteria Growth

One of the major risks behind leaving your cat’s wet food out for too long is the possibility of bacteria growth. Bacteria such as salmonella and listeria can grow on wet food that is exposed to open air for extended periods of time. With how quickly bacteria can replicate in the right environment, your cat can become extremely ill when they consume this food. Cats that have eaten contaminated food have been known to experience vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Not As Fresh

The longer that wet food sits out, the less fresh it is for our cats. Wet food will begin to harden and lose its original tasty scent the longer it sits in open air, making it less appealing as time passes. We can’t expect our cats to enjoy crunchy wet food.


Wet food that sits out for long periods of time can become contaminated by many outside factors. Wet food can be impacted by bacteria, dust, dirt, bugs, and any other possible contaminants that are in your home. You don’t want your cat to consume any of these items. 

How To Store Wet Food 

Now that you know the possible risk of leaving your cat’s wet food out for too long, let’s dive into the ways you can store their food and keep it fresh!


Any opened can of wet food will need to be refrigerated as soon as possible to keep the remaining food fresh. Cool temperatures prevent bacteria from brewing, and ensure that the ingredients do not spoil in the time between your cat’s next meal. 


Not only will you need to keep your cat’s open can of wet food cool, you will also need to cover it. Even the cleanest of fridges can have contaminants that can make their way into the can, and a covering will help to keep the food as fresh as possible.

Consider Expiration Date

Aside from the importance of storing an opened can properly is knowing the expiration date of the food you purchase. Be sure to check each cab for the set expiration date, and discard any expired canned foods to prevent your cat from eating spoiled food.

Temperature Controlled Storage

Though we usually only think about ideal storing temperature for an opened can, it’s just as important to keep their unopened canned diet in a temperature controlled area as well. Keeping canned food in a hot and humid environment can result in contamination, even if the can is unopened. Try your best to keep their canned food in a cool and dry area. 

How long can other cat food sit out?

Now that we’ve covered the basics when it comes to keeping your cats canned food fresh, let’s briefly cover other common feline diets as well!

wet food article

Dry Kibble

Dry kibble has a larger time frame in which it can sit out in your cat’s bowl throughout the day. Since dry kibble does not contain any raw meat or food with excess moisture, your cat’s dry kibble can be safely consumed when it’s left out for up to 24 hours. In order to make sure your cat has the freshest kibble possible, try your best to offer them new kibble each day. 

Raw Food

It’s extremely important with raw cat food diets to follow the proper guidelines for storage. Since raw food is so prone to growing bacteria when left out at room temperature for even a short amount of time, it’s best to only offer your cat enough to eat at that moment. If your cat leaves any raw food behind, it’s best to dispose of the food or keep it in cool storage.


If your cat is able to resist their treats and leaves a few bites behind, it’s safe to throw them out if they don’t get consumed within the hour. Treats can easily become stale when left out in open air, so it’s best to just start from scratch at their next snack time. 


 In order for your cat to enjoy their delicious canned food, you’ll have to understand proper storage and safety that goes along with the diet. Be sure to review the tips we covered above, and your cat will continue to chow down on their favorite food safely!

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