You’ve purchased too much cat food and the expiry date is soon approaching. What do you do? Throw it away and waste all that money? Or can you look to preserve it in another way? What about freezing? Is this a safe option and is this something that can be done, just as we do with other foods? I spent some time researching into the health and safety guidelines and reports from owners to find out.
So, can you freeze cat food? It is possible to freeze both dry and wet cat food. You will however, need to place the food in an airtight container, such as a Ziploc bag or freezer-safe plastic or lidded glassware. Its also important only to freeze fresh food that has not already been left out for your cat.
Being able to freeze our cat food is actually excellent news.
The next time you’re at the pet store or browsing the internet and see a fantastic deal on cat food; you can now buy it.
Even if you do not necessarily ‘need it’ at that very moment in time.
So long as you have the freezer space, and are willing to invest a little upfront in some decent storage containers, you’re good to go.
Let us now take a closer look at exactly how you would need to freeze cat food to ensure it remains both safe and appealing to your cat.
So, be sure to keep reading if you never want to be that frustrated person, throwing your cats food away before you even have a chance to serve it to your cat!
What Makes Cat Food Go Bad?
All food spoils.
But different foods spoil at different rates.
While some foods will go off in as little as 15 minutes, others can last much longer. Either way, every food has its shelf life.
That is certainly the case with both wet and dry cat food.
Sure, the packaging of your cat food will give you an expiration date; but sometimes, food does not last even until then.
Wet cat food generally spoils much faster than dry kibble, but its important to be aware that both can go bad, especially when not stored properly.
Here are the main causes behind why cat food can go off:
- High humidity or moisture, causing mold to develop and grow
- Exposure to the air, resulting in bacteria growth
- Hot temperature, causing rancidity
So moisture and temperature, especially together, are the main culprits.
This is why cat food, whether wet or dry, should normally be stored in a cool dry place.
But most importantly, it needs to be somewhere with little to no temperature fluctuations.
Can You Freeze Dry Cat Food?
It is possible to freeze dry cat food. While dry food tends to last longer than wet food to begin with, freezing it does extend its shelf life further.
That being said, if you are looking to freeze dry cat food (kibble), you do need to ensure that you take it freshly out of the bag and place in airtight containers before freezing.
You do not want the dry food to come into contact with their air, nor do you want it to warm to room temperature.
Can You Freeze Wet Cat Food?
You can look to freeze your wet cat food. However, you will need to ensure that you only look to freeze a freshly opened canned, and transfer it over to an appropriate container before freezing.
It is not possible, nor recommended, ever to freeze a sealed can.
The liquid inside canned goods will expand when frozen, causing the cas to crack or explode.
Once the moisture then gets to the food; it must be thrown away.
So instead, place it in an airtight container before freezing.
How To Freeze Cat Food
Freezing cat food is actually very easy when you know how. But get it wrong and you can end up wasting a lot more food. Not the intention.
There is one pre-requisite to this process though. Ensuring you have enough freezer space.
Assuming you do, or can create it, let us know look at how you can go about freezing your cat food to keep it fresh while ensuring it maintains as much of the nutrition as possible.
Portion The Food Out
To make the whole process easier, it is best to begin by portioning out the food first.
Perhaps the best approach to take is to organize flat patties, of one serving size at a time, before putting them in the freezing container (which we will discuss shortly below).
Both of these will save you time in thawing later, as larger chunks of food take longer to defrost.
Then when its time to get them out the freezer, you can take one serving at a time.
Just be sure that you are measuring out your cats food correctly. You need to ensure your cat is getting enough food while also not accidentally overfeeding them!
Only Use Air Tight Containers
When it comes to freezing any food, you should only be using airtight containers.
This is essentially something that can be sealed.
Ziploc bags, which you can get for a great price on Amazon, are a common and popular choice due to how easy they are to use and how economical they are.
Glass food storage containers are a little bit more expensive upfront, but they avoid the use of plastic and unless you drop and smash them accidentally, should last you a lifetime. These are the glass containers to buy from Amazon.
With either option you choose, just be sure not to overpack them.
You need to leave plenty of space in the container, so that when the food naturally freezes and expands, it does not break or tear the container.
Label Your Containers
Next, it also comes advised to label your containers before you put them into the freezer.
This way, you know what is your cat food and what is your families food!
It may sound obvious, but freezing causes containers to fog and it can actually be quite a challenge to tell the difference.
If you opt for Ziploc bags, a permanent marker can be used.
Otherwise, you may want to use label stickers for a plastic or glass container.
Be sure to label the packaging with what included, how much, and the date you froze them.
This way, you’ll be able to pick out the oldest frozen food first.
Consider that frozen cat food can last upwards of 6 months; so just keep this in mind.
How To Defrost Frozen Cat Food
Defrosting cat food is simple, but it does take a little bit of time and planning ahead.
You’ll want to get the frozen food out a few days that you are looking to serve.
Place the frozen container into the fridge, on a plate, while keeping it closed and sealed.
Then, when it has fully defrosted you can look to serve it to your cat.
Some cats may only eat food that is at room temperature or a little warm.
For this, you may need to place the food in a microwave for 5-10 seconds. Just to make sure that the food is warm all the way through.
Remember that it is not about cooking the food, but instead gently warming it up. It should not be hot!
Once given to your cat, ensure that they have sufficient time to eat the food, but also be sure to not leave it down for too long and throw any leftovers away.
You do not want to refreeze the food; at this point there is risk involved if you were to do so.
How To Tell If Frozen Cat Food Has Gone Bad
Even if you appear to do everything right (at the right time, with the advised approach), unfortunately not all frozen cat food will be as flavorful when you later thaw it.
While it should still be safe to eat, the flavor may degrade to the point where your cat even turns their nose up at it and refuses to eat.
The following are things to loo out for to ensure your frozen food is still fresh for your cat to eat:
Grey or brown spots on the food are clear signs a food has freezer burn.
It is caused by air being exposed to the food, so is caused by the container not being airtight.
It should still be safe for your cat to eat, but the taste will go and it may be more dry when defrosted.
Change In Texture
This is particularly troublesome for wet cat food. However, it can happen to dry food too.
Sometimes frozen food can appear slimy and somewhat bland in appearance.
Again it should be safe to offer, but your cat may not want to eat it. Fair enough really.
This is again why you want your cat food to be in a closed off and sealed container. You do not want it absorbing the smells of other food.
Equally, when food spoils the smell starts to go.
So, if you notice it does not smell right after defrosting – do not look to offer it to your cat. Its not worth the risk.
Sometimes, a cat may be able to smell the food is off even if we cant. Besides they do have a powerful sense of smell, surpassing ours.
Thus, if you did put former frozen food down and notice your cat ignores it – this could be why.
If you notice that the cat food is sitting in a watery and frozen puddle; chances are its been exposed to air at some point and the temperature of the food changed somewhere along the line.
Best to throw this away rather than to defrost and serve.
Ripped Packaging, Unsealed Container
If for any reason a container is open, packaging gets ripped or it was not fastened correctly to begin with, there’s a high chance the food will not be optimal.
It could be freezer burn, but either way, you may want to consider throwing this away.
You certainly can freeze cat food. In fact, its one of the best ways to preserve its shelf life.
So long of course, if you do it properly.
You really do need to ensure that the food is properly sealed in an airtight container. This cannot be overstated.
Besides, the purpose behind freezing your cat food is to preserve it for a latter date.
What is the point of going through the entire process only to lay the food down and for your cat to turn their nose up.
It can and it does happen unfortunately.
But thankfully, there are many reports of owners whom have successfully frozen cat food and served it successfully to their cat at a much later date.
In fact, such reports state that through the use of an airtight container, the food was not “mushy”, “watery” or any different than it ‘came out of the original packaging’. And it passed the “taste test” with their cats too.
So if you have some surplus, but still in date, cat food or you want to take advantage of that next discounted deal, know that you can freeze the food. Whether it be wet or dry.
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I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.