How long does dry cat food last once opened?

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.

Expire date on dry cat food bag
Expire date on dry cat food bag. This is a 7.5 kg bag of Hills Oral Care. I’ve had the bag for 4 month already. Photo: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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.

Does dry cat food clean teeth?
Does dry cat food clean teeth? Photo: MikeB. LEAVE A COMMENT IF YOU HAVE VIEWS ON THIS.

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.


Are plant proteins as good as animal proteins in respect of domestic cats?

Are plant proteins as good as animal proteins for cats?

The answer to the question in the title is YES but please read the article and feel free to chip ...
Cat are obligate carnivores and a straight vegan diet will harm the cat

WARNING about feeding your cat a vegan diet

The infographic is self-explanatory. To stress the point: you can't feed your cat a vegan or vegetarian diet in the ...
Protein content of wet versus dry cat food comparison

Working out the protein content of wet and dry cat food for comparison (infographic)

I am happy with this infographic which I hope explains in a clear way how to compare the protein content ...
Empty bowl under a no waste wet cat food regime

No wet cat food waste (infographic)

Do you aspire to that cat caregiving utopian ideal of no wet food waste left in the bowl after a ...
Proactive measures to help your cat maintain good oral health

5 things you can do to take care of your cat’s teeth

Any cat caregiver who is switched on to high quality cat caregiving knows that oral health is a major problem ...
Cat in dry cat food

How do I know if I’m feeding my cat good quality dry cat food?

High quality dry cat food results in a cat pooping 'normally' in the cat litter box whereas low quality dry ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important
Scroll to Top