Does dry cat food go bad?

I have never seen dry cat food go bad whereas wet cat food grows mould in about a week for me. Yes, there is a use by date on dry cat food. Check your bag. It might be about six months after purchase.

What more can I say? Perhaps the following may help. I don’t think the use-by date is relevant because even with a 7 kg bag and feeding one cat it never goes off. A seven kg bag is enormous. It costs about £45 in the UK.

Dry cat food
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Dry cat food. Does it go bad? I have never seen it go off. Pic: Pixabay modified.


I leave dry cat food in the bowl until it is eaten. I carelessly top up the bowl so the pellets at the bottom are there for a long time. They never look or smell any different from one day to the next and are exactly the same as they were when they were poured into the bowl.

The answer then is that theoretically dry cat food goes bad eventually but in practice you’ll be hard pressed to see it happen in normal usage under normal conditions. All TNR volunteers feed their feral cats with dry cat food. It is put down and left until it is entirely eaten.

Some commenters say that the use by date should be adhered to strictly. I don’t subscribe to that point of view. I could be wrong but I don’t.

Dry cat food gets a bad press but it does not stop cat owners buying it as it so convenient. It is unnatural and cats, being of semi-desert cat origins, don’t make up the loss of water in it by drinking more because they are bad drinkers, so they might end up slightly dehydrated. However, I don’t think cat owners are listening to that sort of information.

Some vets think that the shearing forces generated in eating dry cat food might cause feline resorptive lesions. These are lesions on the teeth themselves. They can be small when they barely pierce the enamel to major damage such as the loss of the entire crown. The molars and premolars are commonly affected.

The high carbohydrate content of dry cat food can predispose the cat to diabetes. It may also predispose cats to FLUTD (range of urinary tract diseases).

Vets across the country sell dry cat food in vast quantities in their waiting areas. If it was so bad would they do this? All thinking cat owners advocate high quality wet food. I am not so strict these days.

I am a bit of a fan of Hills Oral Care. I also feed the best wet foods I can get in small amounts so he eats it all to avoid waste.

Does dry cat food keep the teeth clean? That’s another debatable point. Some say no and others such as my reference book written by respected and experienced American vets say, ‘Dry foods are abrasive and help keep the teeth clean and sharp’.

In the UK Dr Fogle advocates ‘bone-rich food such as a cooked chicken neck [as] an excellent source of nourishment and provides exercise for the teeth and gums.

Dr Fogle advocates that domestic cats eat bones to keep gums and teeth healthy. He says, “I find it difficult to brush a cat’s teeth, so I’ve let mine attend to their teeth and gums by eating bones’.

He admits that there is a risk but the benefits outweigh them. The downside for poor teeth maintenance is a vet cleaning teeth under anaesthetic which can be dangerous for the cat. About one in 400 or one in 1000 cats are killed by veterinary anaesthetics.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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