Giving expired canned seafood to stray cats?
March 10, 2020 7:32 AM   Subscribe

A friend has recently come across some canned tuna, salmon, and clams past their Best By dates. There are some local stray cats. Offer the contents to the strays, or no?

There's no noticeable damage to the canned food (although there might be a little surface rust, but the cans are not leaking or bulging). I think one of the Best By dates might be as old as 2013. Maybe even older.

Friend is a non-cat-owning cat lover, so if this is a bad idea - or if it's a bad idea generally to feed stray cats randomly - please (gently) say so. Harming the kitties would be bad.

posted by kristi to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
Check the sodium content - kitties s can't have too much salt.
posted by meemzi at 7:43 AM on March 10, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: From Does Canned Food Ever Really Go Bad?: "Sealed inside its little tin chamber, the food is mostly kept safe, but when that barrier is even slightly breached—whether through a slight corrosion, a broken seal, or a tiny break in the metal—all kinds of bacteria can make their way in, most worryingly, botulism." I'd toss anything with any rust at all, but otherwise would feed it if it's otherwise healthy for cats - or even eat it yourself.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:54 AM on March 10, 2020

Yeah the food is fine if the cans are intact but it's the salt that's problematic. At minimum I'd rinse it, better is to rinse then soak in water for several hours in the fridge to draw salt out.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:10 AM on March 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Whether I'd worry about the salt depends a bit on how much food this is -- if they have a few cans and a few cats such that each cat is only eating a can or two, I wouldn't worry about it. If they're talking about feeding the same cat a can a day every day for weeks, I would.

I'd probably still drain and rinse the clams, though -- canned clams tend to be quite high in sodium.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:16 AM on March 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

It's better than a dead bird. Yes, my cats would bring presents inside -- why do you ask?
Seriously, if you want to mix it up between some dry cat food on day one and a couple of cans of tuna on day two (about half a can per cat), fine. I would not leave the uneaten food more than a day. I would probably transfer the tuna into a washable container instead of the tuna can, due to possible cuts from the lid (assuming a can opener is involved).
Leave out water bowls, and change the water daily.
posted by TrishaU at 10:11 AM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Please do not feed feral cats, as they cause unsustainable rates of degradation to local ecosystems.

Could your friend contact a local animal shelter to ask if they are interested in the tuna?
posted by Drosera at 12:49 PM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

If it isn't years passed the expiration date you can feed it to the local strays, but only do so sparingly. It doesn't have an amino acid that cats need added to their food that is in food produced to be fed to cats.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 2:22 PM on March 10, 2020

This comes from PETA, of all places: Feral Cats: Trapping is the Kindest Solution

Many people who encounter feral cats start feeding them, but feeding alone can actually make the situation worse. Feeding ferals increases their ability to give birth to even more kittens who are destined to suffer and die premature deaths. It is essential to get these cats off the streets in order to prevent not only their own suffering, but that of their offspring. Feeding should only be done as a prelude to trapping, to get cats accustomed to eating in a certain place at a certain time.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:08 AM on March 12, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks very much for all the great answers (including the ones about not feeding strays generally ... we're talking, like, a half-dozen cans of food, here, so I'm hoping it wouldn't be a long-term problem).

Thank you!
posted by kristi at 8:59 AM on March 19, 2020

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