Does Dry Cat Food Expire? [ Know Everything Here ]

It’s a common observation that pet foods cost way much, be it dry food or wet food.

Due to this, most of you might not resist stocking several packets of cat food if it’s on sale or labeled with a hefty discount.

In this way, you may end up buying more than the required cat food that one day, of course, will expire, thus frittering every penny you spent over them.

Some owners may unintentionally feed their cats the same food or donate it for the unadopted cats. Is this right to feed cats expired food?

What’s the shelf life of a cat’s dry food? Will dry cat food last longer if frozen? If you have similar queries in your mind, it’s time to reply to them all!!

Does dry cat food expire?


Yes, just like every other food, your cat’s dry food comes with a fixed shelf life. Post its shelf life; the food may experience a decrease in its nutritional value, taste, color degradation, etc.

In severe cases, if expired, the dry food may become tough to chew and cause indigestion. So, keep in mind that even dry cat food can expire.

Can you use expired dry cat food?

First and foremost, you should remember that even after hitting its expiry date, your cat’s dry food will have some time left for consumption before going ultimately off.

This period varies from brand to brand and from food to food (like wet, dry, or dehydrated). While some brands’ dry food can last for a few weeks past the expiration date, others may last for merely a few days.

So, you should check the expiry date of the food and its grace period. After the grace period, never feed your cat or any other cat with that food as it can make them sick and lead to complications.

You should know that cats have a more sensitive digestive system than other animals.

How long does dry cat food last after the expiration date?

Here, you’d understand the difference between two terms, “expiry date” and “best by date.” The “expiry date” signifies the expiration period of the food.

While the “best by date” indicates that post expiring, the company won’t guarantee its nutritional benefits as listed over the outer packet.

Furthermore, the company won’t take any responsibility if the pet suffers any health issues after consuming that particular food after passing the “best by date.” 

Generally, dry cat foods come with a shelf life of 4 months to three years. For the canned cat foods, the expiration period extends and is around 1-year to 5-years.

The cats’ snacks and treats also have a similar expiration period of 4-months to 3-years for the dry category and 1-5 years for the wet category.

How do you know if dry cat food is bad?

Some cat dry foods may expire much before their expiry date, and several factors govern this.

For example, continuous exposure to sunlight or moisture, entry of air into the open packet, keeping the food outside for too long, etc. If you want to know if the dry cat food is wrong or not, here’s how to do it.

1. Examine the food first

Dry cat foods require extra care during hot summer months as high temperatures can cause the food to decay quicker than during winters.

Furthermore, check for the growth of molds. If the dry food had/had come in contact with moisture, you might feel a foul odor coming from the packet.

2. Check its expiry date or best before date.

Check the food’s package for its best before the date to know if you’re feeding fresh and nutritious food to your cat.

If you’ve any doubts about this, you must contact the manufacturer. Plus, how you store the packaged dry food after opening also affects the food’s shelf life.

If properly stored, dry cat food can last for over the years and merely a few months if not taken care of properly.

3. Your cat’s reaction says it all!!

In some cases, even your cat’s reaction to her food can infer how the food is. Cats are challenging to feed, and if the food they’re eating is wrong, they won’t even look towards it.

Notice whether your cat continues eating her meal or halts after a few bites and leaves the leftover food untouched.

Remember, similar to dogs, cats possess excellent taste and smell senses to let them know which food is in its consumable state and which not.

4. Check the state of the dry food.

By the state of the dry food, I mean whether the food particles are still in the dry state or leaving behind a wet spot in the cat’s meal bowl.

Even dry food has some moisture level; if spoiled, the dry food will leave behind wet patches in your cat’s feed bowl. 

Can you refrigerate dry cat food?

Yes, it is best to keep dry cat food in cool, clean, and dry places. Some people believe in storing the food packages in a garage or under a shed.

It’s not advisable as in a garage or under a shed, the dry cat food can undergo high temperatures, which can likewise lead to the degradation of its nutritional contents.

The best way to store dry cat food is to pack it in the original package, seal it with a rubber band or packet clippers, and keep it inside the freezer but make sure the temperature is under 80-degree Fahrenheit. 

Any temperature under 80-degree Fahrenheit ensures nutrients retention, taste retention, and most importantly, keeps it fresh for longer.

If you’re keeping the food packets in a refrigerator, take them out a few minutes before feeding your cat so that the food granules get softer to chew and digest. 


No matter who the food is, it’s never right or recommended to feed anyone any expired food.

Some people assume that dry food doesn’t expire as it’s dehydrated and moisture-less, so that it won’t expire soon.

But, as you have read above, even dry food has an expiration period, and post that, it shouldn’t be present on your cat’s plate.