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Can cats eat old meat?


Picture this scenario: your hungry cat is meowing for food and you go to feed them, only to realise you’ve run out of cat food. However, when you scour the back of the cupboard, you’re surprised to discover a long-forgotten sachet. The only problem is, it’s out of date. You may be unsure whether this is safe to give to your cat or not. In this article, Whiskas looks into whether or not cats can eat old meat, and answers the question: do cat treats expire?

Can cats eat old meat?

Although you may think cats can cope with eating old meat due to their wild ancestors’ diet, it can be just as risky for your cat to eat out-of-date meat as it is for humans. Out-of-date cat food can have multiple risks, such as contamination, spoilage, and the preservatives helping to keep the food fresh going off – as well as loss of nutrition. Even with the other potential risks of feeding out-of-date cat food, the food won’t be as high in nutritional quality. With this in mind, responsible cat owners should err on the side of caution and aim to avoid giving their cat meat, or food, that is out of date.

If your cat turns their nose up at food they would normally happily eat, consider why that might be. Examine the food to see whether it looks or smells ‘off’. Reputable pet food companies should offer a money-back guarantee for any products that do not meet expectations.  

Expiry dates on cat food

All food comes with a sell-by date and an expiry date. Usually the expiry date gives a little more time before the food will actually start to go off. When it comes to cat food, dry varieties typically last longer than wet food.

As a rule, once you open a sachet or tin of cat food, exposure to the air will cause the food to start growing bacteria. If you feed your cat wet food, ideally they should eat the serving in one sitting. If your cat prefers to graze and re-visit their food several times over the course of a day, then dry food may be a better option. You should not leave wet cat food out, and it is a waste to keep throwing away old food. 

Do cat treats expire?

In general, cat treats tend to last the same amount of time as dry cat food. If you are planning to give your cat treats, always check the expiry date first and if you are unsure, do not use the treats, or ask a vet for advice. Further, cat treats should only be fed sparingly, and you should reduce the amount of cat food your cat has in that day to compensate for any treating.

How to safely store cat food

To avoid your cat food from spoiling, keep it somewhere dry, away from exposure to light, heat or air. Keep dry food in its original packaging – or place the bag itself inside a plastic container if you prefer. Before purchasing cat food, check the timeframe for consumption after opening the bag so you can select the correct size bag for your pet. Wet food can stay fresh whilst unopened, but once opened, discard after four hours if your cat hasn’t finished it. Wash all food bowls before serving new food. If you are concerned about something your cat has eaten, or have any questions, ask a vet for advice.

Out-of-date cat food can have multiple risks for your cat's health.

Read on to learn more about out-of-date cat food, and how you can prevent your cat's food from spoiling.

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