Do cats know when food is bad?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question, “Do cats know when food is bad?”. We will discuss the risks of cats eating spoiled food. We will also share some tips on how to protect your cat from eating bad food.

Do cats know when food is bad?

No, cats don’t know when food is bad, but they can recognize when something isn’t fit to eat. Cats use their scent to identify if food has gone bad, and they must be aware when something has gone bad. If they don’t like what they’re sniffing, they’ll usually back away and leave without eating it.

However, this isn’t a precise science. Cats are much less fussy about expired meat than people. Use your best judgment before offering anything to a cat.

What are the risks of giving bad food to a cat?

Vomiting and dehydration

When a cat eats anything that doesn’t suit them, the first thing they normally do is vomit. Your cat is prone to have such a reaction if the food is rotten.

Vomiting from decaying food can last for days, causing your cat to become dehydrated. This one will lead to a pricey vet bill to hydrate your pet, so it’s best to avoid substandard food in the first place.

Cats should avoid rotten food since it adds greatly to the transmission of foodborne illnesses. Your cat will most probably suffer and be in pain for several days after eating rotten food, as it can induce fever, cramping, diarrhea, and vomiting.

E.Coli infection

Cats must not be eating spoiled or rotten food because of the bacteria and diseases that it can cause, with E.coli being among the most frequent bugs.

Because minced beef is the food most likely to spread E. coli, take extra precautions when handling it.

Botulism infection

Botulism is a sickness caused by a bacterium that produces a toxin that can be fatal. Cats who eat roadkill or polluted food are at the most risk of contracting the disease. Botulism is caused by pathogens that multiply as food components degrade, such as meat and plants.

Symptoms of botulism usually occur within a few hours of ingesting tainted food. The first indicator is weakness in your cat’s hind legs, followed by stiffness in the front legs, and eventually weakness in the face.

Botulism can be treated if caught early enough, and the cat would be administered an antitoxin. Nevertheless, this is not a sickness to be underestimated, as it can result in your cat being admitted to the hospital and leave them more vulnerable to other illnesses. If you suspect your cat is suffering from botulism, get him to a doctor as quickly as possible

Does cat food expire?

Yes, cat food expires. It’s not uncommon to come across rotten canned cat food. Wet food, on the other hand, has a far shorter life span than dry dry food. Because dry cat food has no moisture, it is very easy to keep; nevertheless, whenever it relates to canned food, special precautions must be made to stop it from rotting.

Food always expires once a certain amount of time has passed. All items, including eggs and veggies, have a shelf life because of this. Cat food does have an expiry date, too, however, canned cat food rots faster. You must be careful what you serve your cats because they have no means of confirming if the food is spoiled.

How to protect your cat from eating bad food?

  • Even if your cat enjoys eating small amounts of food, don’t leave wet food out because it increases the likelihood of disease-causing germs growing.
  • After four hours, discard the old food and clean the dish completely using water and soap before refilling it with new food.
  • Wet cat meals are frequently supplied in packets or cans that, if not opened, can be kept for a long period. When you open a packet or a can, however, the meal is exposed to air and bacteria.
  • Warmer months, or placing your cat’s bowl in a warm part of the house, may hasten the food’s expiration.
  • If your cat doesn’t complete a wet food dish in one session, cover it and store it in the refrigerator. When your cat feels hungry afterward, reheat the food in the microwave on low for a few minutes, as most cats dislike cold food.
  • Within 3 days of opening, any unconsumed cat food in an opened can should be thrown away. If you frequently store opened cartons of cat food in the fridge, use a marker to record the day the can was broken right on the can.


In this brief guide, we answered the question, “Do cats know when food is bad?”. We discussed the risks of cats eating spoiled food. We also shared some tips on how to protect your cat from eating bad food.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.


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