3 Ways on How to Warm up Refrigerated Cat Food

Last Updated on: May 10, 2024

Feeding your feline companion high-quality wet or dry food is essential. Dry cat food may not be as demanding as wet pet food. When you store leftover or unopened wet cat food in the refrigerator, you warm it before serving your pet. 

Therefore, you look for ways to warm food a little bit. One of your concerns might be if you’re doing it right. 

In this article, as we explain how to warm up refrigerated cat food, we’ll look at three methods. See if the method you use to warm food for our pet is among them. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to preserve leftover pet food.

How to Warm Up Refrigerated Cat Food: 3 Methods

Canned cat food has many health benefits as it contains lower calorie and carb density than dry cat food. As such, your pet’s meal times will have you serving more canned food than dry cat food. 

Although you may store unopened canned food outside the fridge, the leftovers of wet food require preservation at cold temperatures. Therefore, you’ll warm it at mealtime. The following are three ways of warming pet food:

1. Room Temperature Warming

It’s a simple and safe way to warm your pet’s meals to a suitable temperature. You don’t even do much; let it sit at room temperature until it reaches the desired warmth. Here’s a step-by-step explanation of how to use the room-temperature warming method.

Step 1: Retrieve Your Pet’s Meal

Take the container out of the refrigerator. If it’s a sealed container, remove the lid.

Step 2: Portion the Unopened Wet Cat Food (if needed)

Scoop out the portion you intend to serve your feline friend. Remember, if the meal plan includes dry food in a separate dish, you don’t need to warm a lot of canned cat food. Skip this step if portioned before storage.

Step 3: Allow it to Sit

Place the wet food on a clean countertop or table at room temperature. It can be in the same container it was in the fridge, or you can pour it into a dish.

Step 4: Stir Occasionally

Distribute the warmth evenly. Stir occasionally during the warming process so there are no cold spots in the dish.

Step 5: Monitor the Temperature

Use your finger to test the temperature periodically. You want it to reach a comfortable warmth level.

Step 6: Serve

Test with a finger to know if it’s warm. Next, transfer it to your cat’s dish if you’ve used a separate container, and serve your pet.

This method allows the contents to gradually reach a comfortable temperature, unlike when you microwave cat food, which we’ll discuss later.

2. Warm Water Bath

A warm water bath gently warms the wet food to a suitable temperature for your cat’s consumption. This method involves immersing a container with a meal portion in warm water. Here’s a step-by-step explanation:

Step 1: Gather Supplies

You’ll need a bowl to accommodate the container with the meal portion you want to warm. Further, get warm water, not hot water. Boil water in a kettle and let the hot water sit for a while before pouring it into the warming bowl.

Step 2: Prepare the Meal

Take the airtight container from the fridge. Remove the lid, but ensure no water can seep into the contents.

Step 3: Set Up the Water Bath

 Place the container with your pet’s meal into the larger bowl or container. Pour your warm, not hot water, into the larger container surrounding the container with your pet’s meal. The water level should be below the lid of the meal container to prevent any water from getting inside.

Step 4: Agitate the Water

Gently agitate the water with your hand or a spoon to distribute the warmth evenly. It ensures the meal warms uniformly.

Step 5: Monitor the Temperature

Use a thermometer or your finger to check the temperature of the meal periodically. You want it to reach a comfortable room temperature or slightly warmer but not too hot.

Step 6: Remove and Serve

Take it out of the warm bath. If you use a separate bowl, transfer the warmed meal to your cat’s dish. Before offering it to your pet, test it with your finger to ensure it’s not too hot. Cats have sensitive mouths, and you don’t want to risk burning their tongue or palate.

This method helps make the meal more palatable and appealing to your pet while maintaining its nutritional quality.

3. Microwave Cat Food

Unlike the two methods above, microwaving poses a few risks to your pet, so here are some safety tips. One, microwaves can heat unevenly, creating hot spots within the dish. Hence, some parts may be scalding hot while others remain cold. 

Your pet may accidentally consume these hot spots, potentially burning their mouth or tongue. Consequently, place the meal in a bowl that distributes the heat evenly.

Many containers are plastic, which can release harmful chemicals when exposed to high heat. When you microwave cat food in plastic containers, it can lead to the leaching of these chemicals, posing a potential health risk to your pet. 

Another concern is that microwaving can overcook your pet’s meal, resulting in loss of moisture and texture. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it safely and effectively:

Step 1: Use Microwave-Safe Containers

Transfer the refrigerated meal into a microwave-safe container. Glass, ceramic, and microwave-safe plastic containers are typically safe choices. Avoid using containers not labeled as microwave-safe, as they can melt or release harmful chemicals when heated.

Step 2: Cover the Contents

Covering it helps to retain moisture and distribute heat evenly. You can use a microwave-safe lid, plate, or paper towel to cover the container. Leave a small vent or opening to allow steam to escape, preventing pressure buildup.

Step 3: Set the Right Setting to Warm Canned Cat Food

Most microwaves have a “reheat” setting, but if yours doesn’t, use medium to medium-high power settings. Lower power settings heat the wet food more evenly and prevent it from becoming overcooked on the outside while still cold in the center.

Step 4: Set the Time

Start with a shorter heating time, such as 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the quantity you’re reheating. You can always add more time if needed. Avoid setting the microwave on high power for an extended period because it can lead to uneven heating or overcooking.

Step 5: Stir or Rotate

After the initial heating cycle, remove the meal from the microwave and stir it or rotate the container. Be careful when handling hot containers.

Step 6: Check the Temperature

Use a food thermometer to ensure your pet’s meal is at a safe and uniform temperature. Allow the contents to rest for a minute or two to distribute heat and cool down any hot spots. You can now transfer it to your pet’s bowl.

Why Warm Unopened Wet Cat Food?

Cats are fussy eaters. While some cats may not mind eating cold food, many prefer it at room temperature or slightly warmed. Further, warming cold food enhances its aroma, making it more enticing and potentially improving your pet’s appetite.

Before delving into the methods for warming up your pet’s cold food, it’s essential to ensure that you handle and store the meals safely. Here are some tips on how to store your pet’s food well:

Use an Airtight Container

When storing leftovers, transfer them to an airtight container to prevent moisture loss and contamination. You can portion unopened wet cat food to avoid warming more than your pet needs.

Check for Freshness

Always check the expiration date on the packaging, and never serve expired or spoiled meals to your pet. As a cat owner, you know your pet’s feeding habits and how much it consumes per week or month. Hence, buy enough, not a lot.

Discard Leftovers after a Reasonable Time

While it’s okay to refrigerate meals for a short period, they’ll spoil when you leave them in the fridge for too long. Generally,s serve refrigerated meals within 1 to 2 days.

Use Ceramic or Glass Bowls. 

Use microwave-safe ceramic or glass bowls instead of plastic, as the latter can leach harmful chemicals when heated. If you’re storing canned food, you can leave it in the manufacturer’s container.


Warming up refrigerated canned food can make mealtime more enjoyable for your feline friend. It enhances the food’s aroma and makes it more appealing. 

However, always prioritize safety when handling, storing, and warming your pet’s wet or dry food. Use the recommended methods mentioned above when warming cold wet food to ensure your cat’s meal is enticing and safe, ultimately contributing to its overall health and well-being.


Should you microwave refrigerated pet meals?

More pet owners use defrosting and tabletop warming instead of microwaves. When you warm it in a microwave, take the same measures as when reheating human meals.

Should I warm up refrigerated pet meals?

It’s advisable to give your pet warm food. Hence, let the cold wet food sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes or place the container in a bowl of warm water until it reaches a comfortable temperature for your pet.

How do you feed a pet refrigerated wet cat food?

Scoop out the desired portion and place it in a clean bowl. Allow the cold wet food to warm up slightly to room temperature before offering it to your pet to enhance its palatability.

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