How Long Can You Leave Canned Wet Cat Food Down?

Charlie eating wet food
Charlie eating wet food

Floppycats’ reader, Patti, recently emailed me asking how long can you leave canned wet food down.  I really have no idea.  Do you?

As you know, we began Pink Sugar’s transition to an all wet food diet back in December (I think it was December).  Anyway….

We’ve been feeding her an entire 3 ounce can of wet food about 2 – 3 times a day.  On average she only really eats about 2.5 cans a day.  The rest gets thrown away (usually because it’s been left out too long and she won’t touch it).

We’ve left the wet food out for her to feed on for as long as 10 hours (mostly overnight) but now I’m thinking that may not be so healthy for her.  She had a vomiting incident the other day (it was just her wet food that was coming back up) and the first time this has happened since we transitioned her.  I don’t know what caused her to get sick and throw up (in every room in the apartment…sigh).  But I’m wondering if I should not be leaving her wet food out for such long periods of time.  So, I did some research on the web and lots of sites say to leave the food out for no longer than 30 minutes to an hour (depending upon the temperature in your house).

THE QUESTION:  How long do you leave the wet food out for Charlie & Trigg to eat before you either take it up and store it in the fridge for later or throw it out?

Thanks so much!

Patti & Pink Sugar (Who is all better now and vomit-free!  Yay!)

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Lyn Johnson says:

    When I had my previous cat, I fed her Orijen Cat and Kitten dry food plus Fancy Feast Classic wet food. When I took her to the vet, I was told to only feed her 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of dry food per day. Then to feed her 1/4 a can of 3 oz. Fancy Feast Classic each meal (3 x day). The rest that wasn’t fed to her, I kept in the can, covered with a lid specifically made for the canned food, and refrigerated. Next time I gave her the wet food, I put it on a saucer and microwaved it 6-7 seconds, just until room temperature (I tested it with a clean finger). She was happy to eat the wet food that way. My cat was only 7.5 pounds, so she couldn’t eat as much as other cats eat. The only reason I went with Orijen dry food (my cat LOVED Orijen) and Fancy Feast Classic, is that the breeder recommended that food.

    I no longer have this cat, and I’ll be getting a kitten in a few weeks. That breeder said the kitten prefers dry food, and they are feeding the kittens Royal Canin kitten dry food (in the pink bag). I’ll have to start with that when I first get the kitten, but I’ll try to transition over to wet food (if she’s agreeable). However, I don’t want her to get sick either.

    1. Lyn Johnson says:

      I forgot to mention, I never left wet food out more than 1/2 hour. However, because I didn’t feed her the full can at a time, she ate every bit of the wet food (except maybe for a few small bits, that I threw away). I tried some other brands of wet food (more expensive food), and she turned her nose up and wouldn’t even try the food. So I threw that food away and donated the unopened cans.

  2. Thankfully my tabby is not picky when it comes to food. I try not to leave her food out beyond 30 minutes – you just can’t be too careful when it comes to stomach illnesses.

  3. elizabeth says:

    Well I usually feed my cat can food twice a week and when I do I feed him in the morning and wait for no more than half an hour and see if there is any left. And usually is like half. Then I get his bowl and put a paper on top of bowl and put it in fridge and give the rest in the evening and he finishes all up.

    I won’t leave the food no more than 30 minutes and whatever is leftover than put it in the fridge and give it later.
    I feel its like us we won’t eat food left for hours and eat it so its the same with my cat. He never gotten sick from his food. And his very healthy cat

  4. remember that cats are designed to eat prey, and are not above eating carrion. I have had many cats eat not only canned food but also raw food left down for 12 hours..

  5. Mulsanne (4 yr old 12 lb. male) gets couple of teaspoons wet food each morning and evening with some high quality dry food to nibble throughout day or overnight. He will usually gobble it all down within a minute or two. If any is left, he will never go back to it even if I leave it out for half hour at most. So, remnants go down the drain as he’ll never touch it if left out. Never pukes. Any more wet food than that and it’s too rich of a diet and he ends up with too soft stools, or chunky butt as I call him. Yuck. Bath time…. Two teaspoons or a tablespoon is all he gets twice daily.

  6. This has been so good information to read as I have debated putting my Tait on canned food. She currently is on Nature’s Variety Frozen Raw and her feeding time is strictly timed as she is eating raw food. But my vet is not completely on board with the frozen raw and so I contemplate changing to the canned food. Thanks kitty lovers!

    1. OH LUCKY YOU! I want to get Charlie and Trigg on raw – but they won’t eat it. My vet is opposed/not completely on board with raw too. But it makes the most sense to me. I am not sure I’d switch if I were you…

  7. Loki, my 5 month old Ragdoll kitten eats Purina One dry kitten chow and twice a day, morning and night, he gets a can of Fancy Feast. He eats half at a time and come to finish it a couple of hours later.

  8. I’m a breeder and I have dry food down at all times. Twice a day, I feed wet, usually 2-3 oz per cat. Each cat has their own bowl, with their name on it, hehe, not that they can read, but…I leave it down for about 30 minutes, I wouldn’t leave my food out for longer than that, so I won’t leave the cats’ food out longer than that. Mine don’t like fish either…they prefer chicken or turkey…sigh..

  9. Hi, Jenny & Everyone!

    Thanks for posting about this, Jenny! I feel like a celebrity now! lol 🙂

    And…a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who shared their experiences and advice on this topic. I truly appreciate it and so does Pink Sugar! 🙂

    Big hugs & tons of headbutts!

    Patti & Pink Sugar <3

  10. Hi Patti –

    Cats have a higher tolerance to “old” food than humans so you probably did not leave it down too long. The length of time the food was left down may not have been the reason Sugar tossed it all over – she may allergic to one of the ingredients, or have a hair ball or nibbled a plant or anything else these crazy cats do. I feed wet only and leave it down several hours 3x a day. Of course in summer, they are fed less at each feeding and the feedings are more frequent (I feel like the heat spoils the food quicker). I am glad she is feeling better and hope you two are relaxing together!

  11. I left canned food out no longer than an hour and threw out what she didn’t eat. I usually only put out a little bit at the time. I will also recommend a brand called Tiki Cat. My cat wouldn’t eat any type of fish flavor, so I only used the chicken, but they have a chicken and egg variety and a succulent chicken and others. It’s not a pate type, it looks like chicken you just cooked and pulled for your kitty. It doesn’t smell bad. It’s pricey but I only used it to supplement my cat’s dry food diet. It comes in a small can size, as well as larger. I will be bringing home a new ragdoll kitten soon and that is the type of wet food I’ll be giving her.

  12. We have 2 new furry staff members and are wondering the same thing.

    Our previous cat was on dry food w/ a teaspoon of Fancy Feast at dinner time as a treat. The last couple months of her life she went off her dry food so we searched for how much wet food she should be eating in a day. Putting out wet food for her to eat when she felt like it didn’t work out so well. It got dried out before she took an interest.

    The 2 new cats are kittens so we have been feeding them wet food every 4-6 hours, just because they are kittens. We can’t keep this up forever. They do have crunchies out they can eat if they are really that hungry. At the moment they are eating every scrap of the wet food.

  13. I put 1/2 can in the morning,she always leaves some, which she will eat at lunch, I add chicken to it, or a little more food. I clean the bowl and give her fresh at night, like I said, she leaves some which she will come back to eat around 11:30 at night. If any is left, I throw it out and clean the bowl in the morning. So far this has worked for us. We live in Florida so the air condition is on all the time.

    1. Kelly Grier says:

      I use the fitted plastic lid that comes on the TOSTITOS DIP cans…perfect size for canned cat food…I keep 2 on hand.
      My cats are free feeders (dry) but get wet canned cat food in the late afternoon or evening…2 of my cats eat it immediately, one cat leaves about 1/2 which I refrigerate and feed later…if he leaves less than 1/2 I just let the other cats finish it up…within minutes lol…

  14. Well, I read somewhere that it says you should only leave it out for about an hour or a half an hour. Personally I leave Star and Saphira’s wet food out for them until it’s empty/gone; as they usually eat it pretty darn fast. But every cat and cat owner is different. If Pink Sugar got sick from it then maybe you shouldn’t leave it out that long. Or if you give her wet food and she doesn’t eat it all, then how about putting it in the fridge? I do that with Nico&Anya’s food sometimes, but sense Nico is so picky he will rarely eat wet food; so he is on dry food most of the time. But if you do decided to do this remember that 99.9% of all wet cat food stinks; in my opinion. So make sure to cover it up with tin foil or something. ‘Cause it’s probably gonna stink up your fridge if you don’t. 😉

    Hope I was helpful!

  15. i think we would treat cat food just like our food. i mean i wouldn’t eat a can of tuna leftovers if i left it out all night. also if you are feeding your cat food without preservatives then it would go bad fast. my cats never have anything left with wet food. i’m trying to get them off the dry food too and i split one can between the three of them so they just have a bit at each meal so there is nothing left over. and they eat better that way and they don’t gorge and puke. if they for some reason didn’t eat it all, i put it in the fridge but i don’t keep it more than one more feeding. if they don’t want to eat it then i throw it out. i try to feed them more often with smaller portions, like we should eat and that has seemed to work for me.. and them.

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