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Can Cats Eat Popcorn? 5 Things You Need to Know

When you’re sitting in front of the TV binging your Netflix favorites, there aren’t many snacks better than popcorn. They’re a classic food that’s been enjoyed for years by any and every person, most notably at the cinema.

When eating popcorn, you may find kernels spilling on the floor because your eyes are glued to the screen. When that happens, your cat may nibble on the residuals it finds on the ground. After all, they’re well known for their curiosity but can cats eat popcorn?

If you find yourself in this situation or you want to give your feline popcorn as a treat in addition to their cat food, then you’ll need to read this so you can find out if cats can eat popcorn and what possible consequences (or benefits) await.

white cat on couch with popcorn

Can Cats Eat Popcorn? 5 Things You Need to Know

1. Is Popcorn Safe for Cats?

The answer isn’t as clear as black and white as it depends on a number of factors. In terms of life-threatening foods for cats, popcorn is in the clear as it isn’t 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. Furthermore, any other types of popcorn, like those coated in sugar, can also lead to health issues for your feline.

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. Other 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 smaller mouths than humans and as such, they won’t be able to eat large kernels without facing the risk of choking.

Further, excess butter found in popcorn leads to obesity and more health concerns down the line, such as lung disease. Butter also contains milk which is a no-go for cats given that many felines are lactose intolerant.

Sugar found in coated popcorn can also lead to obesity as well as diabetes and heart disease if they consume too much of it. Another concern with eating popcorn for cats are digestion issues because they don’t digest grains as well as omnivores.

Plus, you will have to deal with loud noises from your cat trying to clear a popcorn husk or a shell from its teeth. We all know how annoying it is trying to remove a husk out of your throat after eating popcorn.

grey cat with corn cob and popcorn can cats eat popcorn

The concerns don’t just stop with the product themselves – they extend onto the packaging as well. Microwaveable popcorn packages are said to contain a lot of perfluorooctanoic acid which has been linked to ADHD conditions. As a cat parent, you don’t want to subject your cat to any unknown risks.

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.

grey cat in popcorn container

If the kernel pops up to 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.

4. Do Cats Benefit From Popcorn?

Seeing as corn or cornmeal is listed in most cat foods as an ingredient in 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 estate in your cat’s tummy.

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

brown and white cat stares at popcorn with owners in background

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

5. How To Get Your Cat to Stop Eating Popcorn

Maybe your cat got a taste of popcorn once and loved it so much they’re always trying to get their paws on 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 telling them a firm “no” and not giving into 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. They 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, zucchinis, 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

Can Cats Eat Raspberries?, Can Cats Eat Popcorn?, Are Ragdoll cats Hypoallergenic?, Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?, Can Cats Eat Cheese?, Can Cats Eat Cashews? and How to Keep Cats Away from Plants

Popcorn For Cats: Key Takeaways

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 they yowl, meow, or stare at you, don’t…  Okay, maybe a bite is fine.

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