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Canned Cat Food Left In Hot Car – Is It Still Usable?

We all lead busy lives and are just human so we make mistakes. With cat’s being such a popular pet and cat food being a part of the weekly shop, its only natural that people will forget their shopping in their car with a huge number of cat owners doing this so don’t feel left out.

Due to this, we have noticed a number of people wondering if canned cat food that has been left in a hot car is still go to go or not. Now, in all fairness, this is debatable and we can totally understand why there are so many heated discussions on social media about the topic.

Still, we wanted to publish our own article going over the topic to try and help our readers better understand both sides of the argument.

In short though, yes, there are potential risks to letting your cat eat canned cat food that has been left in a hot car.

On the flipside of that though, the actual risks are not as high as some people suggest and the average outdoor cat has probably eaten much riskier foods over the years.

What Happens if You Leave Canned Cat Food in A Hot Car?

Before we get too far into this article, we just wanted to point out that the temperatures we are talking about here are pretty high. We are not talking about your canned cat food sitting in your car on an 80-degree day.

Instead, we are talking about canned cat food being left in a hot car on a day where the temperature is in the 90s or even 100 degrees.

Leaving canned cat food in your car on a hot day can cause the can to heat up and potentially burst.

This is obviously not ideal as it can create quite a mess, but canned cat food that has been heated up to around 75 degrees is still safe for your cat to eat but its nutritional content can quickly drop off.

The issue with leaving cat food in a hot car is that between 75 degrees and 100 degrees, the risk of spoilage on the cat food in the tin drastically increases.

Depending on your location, there may actually be local laws in place to force stores to sell canned goods that have been exposed to anything over 90 degree heat for an extended period of time due to this spoilage.

Ever noticed how you can walk into a super store on a hot day and the instant wave of nice cool air hits you from the stores air con system?

Yea, thats not there for you, the customer, its there to keep the ambient temperature in the store below the legal thresholds to prevent them having to write off huge amounts of stock each summer.

How Long Is Canned Cat Food Safe in The Heat?

Due to it being difficult to workout the exact temperature in your car due to the glass windows amplifying the heat, it’s hard to give an exact answer for how long canned cat food is safe in the heat.

The general consensus from experts and canned food manufacturers though is that canned goods should be used within 2 hours of being removed from a hot car. This obviously isn’t ideal if you don’t want to feed your cat as soon as you get home, but it’s the best way to be on the safe side as spoilage kicks in quickly.

A solid argument can be made to just throw any canned cat food that has been left in a hot car in temperatures over 75 degrees though. On the flipside of that argument is the “try and see method”.

Cats are surprisingly good at working out if food is good enough to eat or not and you will commonly see your cat sniff food and then turn its nose up at it. This behavior is not due to the cat being picky but often due to the food being bad.

Some cat owners who have accidentally left their canned cat food in a hot car take advantage of this and they will offer the cat food to their pet cat to see if it will eat it. Although this is just theory, the method goes by the logic of if the cat eat the food then it’s good, if the cat refuses the food then it’s bad.

This is far from accurate though but due to budgets and cat food prices going up, this is becoming more and more popular if the cat food has been left in a hot car by accident.

What About If I Leave Dry Cat Food In A Hot Car?

Although there are still a small number of potential risks to you accidentally leaving dry cat food in a hot car, they are nowhere near as serious as leaving wet cat food in a hot car.

This is due to the dehydration process that dry cat food is put through removing most of the liquid from the food that can potentially cause problems when heated up.

Many cat owners who live in a hot area where there are consistent hot temperatures will always use a dry cat food due to them being able to leave it in the heat for much longer than wet food without issue.

When the time comes for their pet cat to eat the food, they then serve the dry cat food as is, add a little water, or add a topper to essentially make it a hybrid between dry and wet cat food.