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Can Cats Eat Popcorn? Is Eating Popcorn Bad for Cats?

Whether you leave your popcorn bowl unattended or spill a few kernels while watching a movie, your curious cat is bound to try and taste it. But can cats eat popcorn?

If they do nibble on a few kernels, you may be worried about whether it’s safe for your cat to eat popcorn. Or, you may just be wondering whether it’s okay to share some of your popcorn as a treat in addition to their cat food.

Whatever the situation, this guide covers everything you need to know about cats eating popcorn and what possible consequences (or benefits) await. So let’s jump right in.

white cat on couch with popcorn


Can Cats Have Popcorn? 5 Things You Need to Know

If your cat ate popcorn, or wants to try it, you may have some concerns. Below are five important things to know about cats and popcorn to put your mind at ease.

1. Is Popcorn Bad for Cats?

If you’re wondering, “is popcorn safe for cats?” the answer isn’t as clear as you may hope. It depends on a number of factors. In terms of life-threatening foods for cats, popcorn is okay, as it is not toxic to felines. However, this mainly goes for plain popcorn and in situations where cats have eaten just a few of these treats.

Problems can arise in cases where cats eat popcorn with additives and added ingredients such as butter, salt, onion, and so on. Any other types of popcorn, like those coated in sugar, can also lead to health issues for your feline.

If you’re wondering, “can cats eat popcorn with salt?” the answer is no. Popcorn with high concentrations of salt in them can cause many problems as excess salt is toxic to pets. They can develop issues such as sodium poisoning, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and more.

grey tabby and teddy bear with popcorn

2. Health Concerns Associated with Popcorn

  • Popcorn is a choking hazard for felines because kernels come in many different sizes, ranging from small to large. Cats have much smaller mouths and throats than humans. They won’t be able to eat large kernels without facing the risk of choking.
  • Is buttered popcorn bad for cats? Excess butter found in popcorn leads to obesity and more health concerns down the line. ( Butter also contains milk, which is a no-go for cats, given that many felines are lactose intolerant. This is why cats eating cheese is not a good idea either.
  • Sugar found in coated popcorn can also lead to obesity as well as diabetes and heart disease in cats if they consume too much of it.
  • Another concern with eating popcorn for cats is digestion issues because they don’t digest grains as well as omnivores.
  • Popcorn husks can also often have sharp edges, which pose an additional danger to your cat’s safety. A sharp husk could get lodged in their mouth and hurt or even cut their gums or throat.
  • The concerns don’t just stop with the product themselves – they extend to the packaging as well. Microwaveable popcorn packages are said to contain a lot of perfluorooctanoic acid, which has been linked to cat ADHD conditions. As a cat parent, you don’t want to subject your cat to any unknown risks.
grey cat with corn cob and popcorn can cats eat popcorn

3. What to Do if Your Cat Chokes?

If your cat munches on a large kernel and it gets stuck in their throat, you’ll need to act quickly. In this case, head straight to your veterinarian clinic, where you’ll receive professional help. Trying to remedy the problem yourself can be dangerous to you and your cat.

However, if the situation requires immediate action, then you can do the following.

Firstly, sweep their mouth to see if you can remove the popcorn yourself. Gently open their mouth and pull their tongue and see if you can find what’s blocking their airway. If it’s there, try pulling it out using your fingers or rubber tweezers, and make sure you don’t push it further down.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to perform a cat Heimlich, which is similar to the move for humans. Hold your kitty with their back to your chest and their feet dangling. Then put your first under their ribcage and pull gently two or three times in and out, ensuring you don’t hurt your feline.

If the kernel pops up in their mouth, remove it using the first method. Even if it pops right out and you’re positive your cat is safe, a visit to the veterinarian is a must. The vet will ensure there aren’t any other issues or injuries due to the Heimlich maneuver.

grey cat in popcorn container

4. Is Popcorn Good for Cats?

Seeing as corn or cornmeal is listed in most cat foods as an ingredient on labels, does that mean popcorn is beneficial to felines? Unfortunately, no; the crunchy snack doesn’t offer any nutritional or health benefits to cats.

That’s because corn itself is added in wet and dry cat and kitten foods as filler. They have little to no nutritional value for cats. The same goes for popcorn, which would just take up space in your cat’s tummy.

Popcorn is a carbohydrate grain, which is beneficial to humans. Unlike us, cats are obligate carnivores and don’t need carbohydrates, nor do they gain anything from them.

So, keep plain and air-popped popcorn as an occasional snack or treat and not a go-to for your cat. Keep their diet mostly balanced with cat food that’s fit for carnivores.

brown and white cat stares at popcorn with owners in background

5. How To Get Your Cat to Stop Eating Popcorn

Maybe your cat got a taste of popcorn once and loved it so much that they’re always trying to get their paws in your bowl. Or, their curiosity just gets the better of them, and they try to munch on the few kernels they find on the ground. How do you stop them?

You’ll use the same techniques you use to train them for things they aren’t supposed to do. The first is just giving them a firm “no” and not giving in to your feline’s demands.

Secondly, you can cover your bowl anytime you leave the room. Also, make sure you pick up any kernels off the floor before your furry friend can bite into them.

Healthy Snack Alternatives to Popcorn

If you want to share snacks with your furry friend, don’t fret; there are several options out there. These are better than popcorn both in terms of safety and potential benefits as a human-cat shared treat.

When sharing human food with cats, just remember to give the treats in moderation and talk to your veterinarian before doing so. This is because their digestive system is sensitive to any dietary changes. I’m sure you’ve noticed your furry baby gets an upset stomach when you change the cat food they consume.

Many vet and pet health experts agree that foods like bananas, cucumber, zucchini, peas, carrots, and pumpkins are good options. I would also recommend some of these other cat treats as an alternative to popcorn.

cats with 3d glasses and popcorn in a cinema

Popcorn For Cats: Key Takeaways

So, can a cat eat popcorn? Equipped with the information above, you now know about popcorn and how eating it affects cats. While plain and air-popped popcorn is relatively safe for kitty consumption, it should be given in small amounts, if ever.

Health issues can arise if your cat eats popcorn with toppings, and they can still face problems like choking, even if they eat the plain kind. As a result, I suggest giving them alternative healthy treats and never offering popcorn.

No matter how much your cat stares at you or yowls and meows, don’t… Okay, maybe a bite is fine.

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