close up of a grey tabby cat eating a saucer of chunky wet food

How To Feed A Cat Wet Food While Away.

Are you going to be out for a long day or even for several days and need a way to feed your cat whilst you are gone? If your cat eats wet food this is a major problem. How do you feed a cat wet food while you are away? Can you just leave the food out? Will it spoil? Is it bad for your cat? What are your options if you can’t leave the food out? We check it out and fill you in on the details you need. Read on…

Why Not Just Feed Them Dry Food?

Feeding your cat whilst you are out for a long day or even overnight is no big deal if your cat regularly eats dry food. You can easily purchase a timed feeder online which will deliver portions on a regular timer for your cat so you know they have enough to eat. Some of these feeders can even store a week’s worth of dry cat food potentially allowing you to leave your cat for extended lengths of time safe in the knowledge that they ain’t going to starve – but we would never recommend leaving your cat for such an extended period!

Lots of cat guardians choose not to feed their cat dry food – sure it is more convenient, easier to manage, and cheaper – but wet food is just a more healthy option and more natural for your cat. The benefits of wet cat food are that you know your cat is getting enough water as wet food has high moisture content and cats get a lot of their moisture in the wild from their food rather than drinking water, and you know your cat is likely to be eating more naturally. 

Wet cat food generally doesn’t contain the same amount of carbs as dry food where carbs like wheat and soy are used as binders and fillers. Wet food is often low carb cat food. The moisture acts as a binder so carbs aren’t needed. Wet food usually has a macro balance of proteins and fats that is far closer to a natural diet that your cat has evolved to eat – and the thinking is the closer to the natural diet your cat is, the less likely they are to develop health problems through life.

close up of a cat eating chunky wet cat food from a purple bowl

What About Just Putting Out Wet Food?

Well if wet food is generally better for your cat why can’t you just put wet food down for your cat? There are a number of problems with this. 

First off, wet food goes bad for your cat if you leave it out. What we mean by this is that as wet food is exposed to the air, bacteria and such like can infect the food and bloom over the food making it bad for your cat to eat. The food spoils quite quickly and can make your cat sick. Most cats won’t eat wet food that has been out for a while – they seem to sense that it is less than perfect and leave well alone!

Most food manufacturers recommend that you dispose of wet cat food that has been out for four hours because of this issue. If you live in a warm area the time limits are even shorter. In fact, to completely overcome the problem most cat food manufacturers recommend that as soon as your cat has finished eating you cover the food and store it in a refrigerator.

The second issue is that there just aren’t any timed food dispensers available on the market that can really handle wet food to overcome the problems that you get after exposing the food to air for four hours.

All in all, just putting out four or five meals of wet food for your cat to eat whilst you are away is just a non-runner of an idea – possible with dry food – dangerous with wet food.  

So What Options Do You Have If You Want Your Cat To Eat Wet Food Only?

There are, simply, no easy options. Unfortunately, you are going to have to call in some favors or pay up if you want to feed your cat wet food whilst you are away. These are your potential options to overcome this situation:

a cat eating from a metal bowl on a kitchen counter

Get A Neighbour/A Family Member To Feed Them

See if you have a cat-loving neighbor who is about during the day who can help feed your cat. In return, you might need to pet sit their cat from time to time. Hell, you might even find out that they are already feeding your cat without knowing it was yours! Alternatively, if you have family close by you could try twisting their arm for a bit of help.

Get A Pet Sitter In

I am not suggesting you get someone to come and sit in your house all day and keep your probably sleeping cat company, but you can hire people who will come around for an hour per day to feed your cat and give some company. 

You can get a wide choice of cat sitters in most cities these days that can be hired online. Most offer an hourly service where they visit, put food out, clean food bowls, empty litter trays, and even give out medication if necessary in a short visit just to keep things ticking over. You can hire them to visit once per day or twice per day and have them take and send photos to your phone. Most charge on an hourly basis so costs are going to run at a basic hourly rate applicable to your area. 

Cheaper than a cattery and you don’t need to impose on family, friends, or neighbors but you do end up with a stranger in your house unless you can work out some form of restricted access. 

Use A Cattery

This is not a solution for people who are looking to just feed their cat during a workday, but if you are on vacation for a few days, a week, or longer and really don’t fancy involving neighbors or having cat sitters around your house your best option is going to be using a boarding cattery.

Catteries will act like a cat hotel and give your cat food and lodging whilst you are away. Obviously, these can be an expensive option and the level of comfort you wish to give to kitty will be reflected in the price – but catteries will feed your cat regularly, make sure they get medication, and if anything untoward happens they will get your cat to a vet for treatment if needed. A decent option if you are away for some time and can afford the expense. 

three orange kittens looking out from a cat cage

Other Options To Avoid

Everyone likes an easy life and a simple option, it is human nature. During your research, you might come across other options that seem to offer an easy way around this problem of feeding your cat wet food whilst you are away. 

Here are a couple I know of that you should ignore or avoid :

Add water to wet food so it does not dry out as fast – I can understand where this idea comes from. Most people with a cat who feed the cat wet food know that the food dries up quite quickly and can become crusty. The basis of this idea is that you are all good to go if the food has not dried up and the solution to extend that period before it dries is to add some water. Hey presto, you can leave the food out longer because it is not dried up. Wrong. You still got the four hour, bacteria problem, even if the food is nicely wetted up. It is all down to air exposure remember, not the consistency…

Put frozen cat food out for your cat – The idea with this solution is that the cat food gradually defrosts and after 6-8 hours it is edible and fresh for the cat. This means you can get away with a long day because you can put some food out in the morning for immediate consumption and then put a cat food popsicle out so that later in the day they get a room temperature second meal. Needless to say, air exposure makes this an inexact method of feeding your cat that could carry risks. Probably best not to attempt this if you want to avoid putting your cat’s health at risk. 

So there you have it. There is no easy way around this problem if you are determined to feed your cat wet food and you are going to be away for some time. Maybe someday someone will invent a refrigerated timed food dispenser that can overcome the bacteria issues and let you leave wet food out on a timer for your cat! Until then options are limited.