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Last night I was in a bit of a rush and really tired and completely forgot to put the raw meat back in the fridge or put the lid back on. I know cats have a higher tolerance for diseases that come from raw meat, but I don't wanna take any risks and also not really keen on binning the entire tub of Jimbo meat. So, is it safe for her to eat? Should I scoop off the top half of meat? Or bin everything?

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    Cats, like humans, are biological beings, subject to getting sick from old food – user20149 Mar 27 at 16:33
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    Whoa - I read “tub” and “scoop off half”. Are we talking about minced meat / hamburger or some other further processing? That’s a huge difference! – Stephie Mar 28 at 5:46
  • Perhaps something like this? That would be a mix of chopped meet and organs plus - unspecified - preservatives. – Stephie Mar 28 at 5:59
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Please note that this is only my subjective, not scientific opinion...

The meat should be fine, but you cannot keep it much longer now. It's bacteria and fungi (mould) that spoil foods, and it's the cold of the fridge that slows their growth down to keep foods fresh for longer. Since the meat wasn't refrigerated for several hours, it's comparable to meat that was refrigerated for several days (maybe 3 - 5 days, but that's my completely non-scientific opinion and highly depends on the room temperature in your kitchen).

It should still be edible, as long as there's no sign of:

  • Mould; If there's any white, grey, green or black fuzz anywhere on the meat, bin the whole can. It's not the fuzz that's poisonous, but the metabolic by-products that have already spread through the whole can by the time the mould becomes visible.
  • Greenish slime or milky liquid; That's a sign of excess bacteria and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Again, throw the whole thing away because there's no way to tell if the bottom of the can contains less bacteria.
  • Bad odor; You know how the meat usually smells. If the odor changed, it's a sign of excess bacteria. Even if it was still edible, your cat probably would refuse eating it.

Cats have a much finer nose than humans and can smell rot much better. Domesticated cats evolved to eat fresh prey and refuse carrion. If your cat refuses to eat the meat, you won't have much choice but throw it away.

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    Anecdotal: a long time ago I have read an article and interview with a man in Poland who was leading an independent life relying solely on things he got from regular dumpster diving, including food, and searching landfills for valuable things (which were surprisingly plentiful). He said that his cats helped him to determine whether the meat found in garbage was "safe" - he used to give a sample of this meat to cats and if they didn't eat it, he didn't either. He supposedly never got sick from eating meat that his cats "approved" as still edible, neither did the cats. – lila Mar 27 at 21:10
  • I am sorry for no sources, it is because I have read it on paper - in a Polish tabloid, many years ago, before I even had Internet connection at home. It is just an anecdote for the acute sensitivity of cat's sense of smell and taste, not an answer to the question nor advice to feed cats hygienically-suspicious food. – lila Mar 27 at 21:20
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    stilltasty.com/questions/… It looks like for ground meat (which it sounds like the question is about), two hours is the limit before it starts getting unsafe for human consumption. Even if cats are a bit more tolerant, five times that limit seems a bit much. – Allison C Mar 29 at 13:45

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