How many of us who buy dry cat food check the use-by date on the bag? I’m pretty sure that most of us don’t. I certainly don’t or didn’t until I began to write this article. I have a 7 kg bag of Hills Oral Care dry cat food which my cat likes and which he grazes on at night. I’ve just checked the expire date and you can see in the photograph below that it is November 2021.
This means I am well within the expire date and with such a large bag I need a long shelf life. I’ve had the bag for about four months already and therefore overall the shelf life of this dry cat food is about eighteen months after it has been opened. Although it does have a zip at the top which helps to keep it fresh.
That eighteen month shelf life is different to what I’m told by Dr Bruce Fogle in one of his excellent books. He says that we should try to use dry food products within six months of their manufacture date. In other words he is saying that dry cat food lasts a maximum of six months once opened.
He also advises that your cat dry food should be sealed in a container in a cool dry location. The Internet is not very helpful on this because a Google search on the question in the title produces information about how long open cans of wet cat food lasts which clearly isn’t what I’m searching for! Another website suggest that it’ll last for six weeks once opened. These are all wrong in my opinion.
I think we can safely say that the best way to proceed is to check the use-by date on the bag. However, I think we can be quite generous with the date provided we store the food properly and ensure that it is zipped up as my bag is.
I’m sure different manufacturers provide different use-by dates and recommend different shelf lives for their dry foods but I was quite surprised to see that Hills Oral Care has an eighteen month shelf life once opened. To be frank, I have never checked the use-by date on dry cat food because it is always looked exactly the same and smelt exactly the same from the day I bought it and opened it for the first time to the last time that I gave it to my cat. It seems to be highly inert and certainly not rancid if provided to my cat after six months which is the time-limit that Dr Fogle recommends.
The conclusion has to be that dry cat food should last a good six months after opening, and if the date on the packaging is a lot longer than that, you can even add some months to that date. I would welcome the thoughts of visitors on this to widen the discussion because my personal views on this may clash with others. It is a major reason why the product is so successful – it is highly convenient but unnatural unfortunately.
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