Good or bad? Can cats eat popcorn, and should they?

Movie time is not complete without a bag of popcorn at hand. Of course, it's more relaxing to watch a movie with your furry friend. However, can cats eat popcorn too?

Is popcorn bad for cats? Alternatively, is it safe and healthy for felines? You’ve probably caught your kitty making a pleading gaze while you’re munching kernels in front of the TV.

Moreover, you've probably tempted to toss some for your feline friend. However, then you stop and wonder if it's safe for your kitty to eat popcorn.

Many pet owners are very cautious when it comes to the food their pets eat. Compared to other household pets, felines have more sensitive bodily organs.

There are several types of food that their body cannot metabolize. These foods are considered toxic to cats and are not safe for them to eat.

For example, onions and garlic are staples in most cooking. However, do you know that these great seasonings are highly poisonous to cats?

Grapes and raisins are nutritious snacks; there's no doubt about that. However, even a small amount of these foods can cause kidney failure in cats.

Even our favorite chocolate is poisonous to felines as it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and increased heart rate.

Felines are complex animals, and their nutritional requirements are entirely different from ours. What's healthy for us may not be equally healthy for them. Also, what's safe for us may not be safe for them to eat.

How about popcorn? Can cats eat popcorn? Felines are known to be picky eaters. As finicky carnivores, they typically show disinterest in other foods that are not meat.

However, as we said earlier, felines are complex creatures, and that also explains their unpredictable behaviors.

When curiosity gets the best of them, they won't hesitate to try something new. This is true more especially when they see you eating foods that are unusual for them.

As loving pets, they tend to crave the foods that their humans eat, and they show interest in the things their humans usually use.

Aside from that, felines are generally attracted by the smell. Their sense of smell is superior to ours, which is why they detest anything that has a pungent smell like citrus.

Popcorn, on the other hand, has that exquisitely pleasant smell that cats find so appetizing. Additionally, our feline companions are more into salty foods.

So, Can Cats Eat Popcorn?

Can cats eat popcorn

There's more to the answer than just ‘yes' or ‘no.' Your answer will depend on the specific type you intend to feed to your kitty.

Popcorn is a variety of corn kernel which puffs up when heated. So corns aren't precisely toxic to cats.

Let us remind you again that felines are obligate carnivores and they don’t need plant-based food sources.

However, it won't harm them to consume a small amount of plant-based food in moderation, as long as it is not toxic to them. Corn on its own should be safe for cats to eat in moderation.

Although popcorn is ‘basically'  corn, it is processed and prepared in a way that makes it very different from regular corn.

The method of ‘popping' the kernels also plays a vital role in determining whether or not it is safe for cats to eat.

Probably the most common and easiest way to pop popcorn is by microwave. However, there are also other ways to cook it.

Some people prefer to deep-fry theirs in a pan while some choose to use air-fryer instead.

Keep in mind that a feline body is not mainly designed to absorb and metabolize oils. If the body didn't process substances, they accumulate within and turn into toxins.

Toxic build-up can compromise a feline’s physical and mental health. In the long run, it can lead to liver damage and kidney failure.

Since felines cannot metabolize oils, keep them away from oily or fried foods as much as possible. Deep-Fried popcorn is a big no-no for felines.

Does this mean that air-fried popcorn and microwave versions are safe for cats? Although microwave popcorn is cooked without using oils, a chemical coating applied in the bags is considered as a likely carcinogen.

When heated, this harmful chemical breaks down into a cancer-causing acid that can adversely affect not just animals but also humans.

Now that leaves us to the air-fried type. Can cats eat popcorn popped from an air-fryer? Compared to deep-frying, air frying significantly reduces the amount of fat and harmful compounds in the popcorn.

With that being said, air-fried popcorn is the safest alternative in cooking your popcorn. However, then again, moderation is the key.

Popcorn may not be toxic to felines, but it can still pose health problems when a feline consumes a large amount of it.

Can cats eat popcorn? Yes, cats can eat popcorn. However, it should only be given as an occasional treat and not as an integral part of their diet.

Also, keep in mind that it can become toxic to them if it is enhanced with seasoning. Many people prefer theirs to be seasoned with salt, cheese powder, butter, or chili powder.

Other people would go more experimental by adding bacon bits, crushed peanuts, lemon zest, or wasabi into their popcorns. All the seasonings mentioned above are not safe for felines.

Unseasoned popcorn is undoubtedly safe for felines, but it's a different story when you add some additives.

Popcorn for Cats and its Nutritional Value

Can cats eat popcorn

Can cats eat popcorn? Yes, they can. However, should cats eat popcorn? Corn is naturally rich in protein, fiber, sugars, and carbohydrates. All of these nutrients are essential for a feline.

However, carnivores such as felines obtain their primary nutrition from the meat they eat. If that is so, why do some cat foods include corn?

This is because the corn in feline food serves only as a filler agent and not for its nutritional means.

When processed, the nutritional value of the corn decreases while its carbs and calorie content increases. Hence, popcorn has no nutritional value to felines.

Should cats eat popcorn? No, it is not advisable to feed your kitties with it because they won’t gain any nutrients from it.

However, it won't harm to give them a piece of kernel once in a while especially if you can't say ‘no' to their begging eyes.

Can Kittens Eat Popcorn?

can kittens eat popcorn

Young kittens and senior felines are prone to digestive problems and giving them foods that are unusual for a feline diet isn’t a good idea.

For kittens, popcorn kernel is considered as a significant choking hazard. It can lead to potentially dangerous blockage in the kitten's delicate throat.

Of course, this blockage is fatal to a small kitten. So please make sure to keep it out of their reach.

Popcorn has no room for a kitten’s diet. If there’s anything, it can endanger your precious little furball.

Please make it a rule of thumb to never allow your kitten to eat it no matter how it pleads.

In case you caught your kitten choking on a popcorn kernel, bring it to the vet right away for emergency treatment.

Is Popcorn Bad For Cats?

Can cats eat popcorn? Yes, but only in moderation. Should cats eat popcorn? Not necessarily. Is popcorn bad for cats?

Let’s answer this question once and for all. Without any additive, on its own is not toxic to felines and therefore they can eat it.

What makes it dangerous to felines is the seasoning or topping we put into it. Salt, for example, can cause sodium ion poisoning in felines when taken in large amount.

Early symptoms of sodium ion poisoning include:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High body temperature

is popcorn bad for cats

If your pet keeps eating salty foods even after experiencing these signs, the poisoning could get worse, and it could lead to death.

Spicy seasonings can cause a toxic reaction and can put your kitty in some digestive severe distress.

Sweet toppings such as sugar and caramel can cause obesity and diabetes to felines. These could also take a toll on your pet’s dental health.

More importantly, chocolate in any form is highly toxic to felines. Some people are using chocolate syrup or chocolate powder on theirs for flavoring.

Always remember that chocolates are lethal for felines as these can cause tremors, abnormal heart rate, seizures and death in felines.

Popcorn that comes with butter and cheese toppings can also cause digestive problems to our feline pets.

Felines cannot digest milk properly because they are known to be lactose intolerant. Dairy products such as butter and cheese can trigger diarrhea and upset stomach in cats.

Of course, popcorn with garlic and onions are undoubtedly bad for your kitty. Onions, garlic, and chives in all forms can break down a feline's red blood cells which can lead to hemolytic anemia.

Namely, unseasoned popcorn should be safe for cats. However, seasoned brands are not.

Corn Allergy in Cats

Before feeding your cat with some, you need to make sure that your pet is not allergic to corn. Corn is one of the most common foods to cause allergies in cats.

Test your pet for potential corn allergy by giving a minimal amount of popcorn and wait to see any sign of allergic reaction.

The most common symptoms of allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Skin itching
  • Inflammation
  • Vomiting
  •  Diarrhea

If you notice your cat manifesting one of these symptoms after eating popcorn, it’s highly probable that your pet is allergic to corn.

Popcorn for Cats: Moderation is the Key

popcorn for cats

Now that you have learned that plain, air-fried popcorn is safe for cats, you probably think it’s okay to share it with your feline pet.

However, don't forget that even if it's unseasoned, it can still cause problems if consumed in large quantities.

Due to its appealing smell and crunchy texture, your kitty may not get enough of it, and it may ask for more.

Remember that popcorn is high in calories. A regular bag has approximately 300 calories. The number of calorie increases if you put more additives into it.

A cat should have 20 calories per pound to maintain a healthy weight. If you let your pet exceed its daily calorie limit, it can lead to obesity which predisposes your cat to hepatic lipidosis, diabetes, and arthritis.

Furthermore, it contains hydrogenated oil to give it the buttery flavor that most of us love. However, this trans fatty acid is toxic to cats, and it could potentially cause hepatic lipidosis or fatty liver in cats.

Symptoms of hepatic lipidosis are as follow:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Depression

You can protect your kitties from these health conditions by giving them a well-balanced diet necessary for feline nutrition.

Popcorn is not toxic for felines, but it should only be given in small quantities and moderation.

Can Cats Eat Homemade Popcorn

Commercial popcorn usually contains preservatives and artificial flavorings that can be harmful to humans and animals alike.

If you want a safer alternative, then homemade is fine. Go easy on the oil if you intend to deep-fry it in a pan.

Using an air-fryer is the best way of cooking it is to ensure that you and your kitty is eating an oil-free snack.

Do not add any seasoning or topping if you intend to share it with your furry buddy. Moreover, look out for un-popped kernels because these can be potential choking hazards for your feline pet.

Keep in mind though that corn is a starch-based grain which is high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are considered essential for humans, but these do not play critical roles in a feline's body.

This is because their body is designed to get all the nutrients they need from their high-protein meat-based diet.

To put it just, felines do not have the biological need for grains such as corn because their digestive organs cannot handle these foods.

Since cats cannot properly digest carbohydrates, too much intake of foods rich in carbs can affect their digestive system.

Undigested carbs within the stomach can lead to abdominal distress and flatulence.

How to Prevent Cats from Eating Popcorn

should cats eat popcorn

Is popcorn bad for cats? Well, it all depends on how you cooked and prepared it. Giving your pets just a little won't potentially harm them.

However, why would you take the risk when you can prevent it, right? Here are some pointers to prevent your furry buddy from eating popcorn:

  • Don’t give in to your pet’s demands. No matter how it flashes its Puss-in-Boots ultra cute eyes.
  • Never eat it where your cat can see you.
  • Store it in a sealed container if you're leaving it on a table or a countertop
  • Prepare yummy cat treats for your pet to distract it from setting its eyes on your popcorn

Conclusion: Can Cats Eat Popcorn

We have provided the answer to this question - can cats eat popcorn? Even though plain, air-fried popcorn is not toxic to cats, you should not consider as an option for a cat treat.

We, humans, can benefit a lot from whole grain snacks but felines are different from us. For cats, there is no point in eating popcorn because it has no nutritional value for them.

Moreover, you might be giving more harm than good if you allow your pet to eat popcorn. The risk of choking and digestive problems should be enough reason to convince you.

Also, it becomes more dangerous if it is cooked in oil or microwave. Not to mention the additives and seasonings that can be potentially poisonous to felines.

Rather than popcorn, there are cat treats that are available in the market. Alternatively, you can also make homemade cat treats for your kitty.

Let your cat indulge in some delicious cat treats while you enjoy your bowl of popcorn, together in front of the TV.


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