Can Cats Eat Popcorn? Is It Safe For Them Or Not?
Popcorn has for a long time been a popular snack food. Popcorn has been found on funeral urns in Mexico dating back to 300 A.D. It was served at the first Thanksgiving feast. The popcorn machine was invented in 1885 by Chicago resident Charles Cretors. As this was also about the time movies became popular, the two became intertwined. Because popcorn is inexpensive, it became very popular in the tight times of the 30’s and 40’s. Microwave popcorn was invented in 1981. Today, America consumes about 17 billion quarts of popcorn every year.
It’s Christmas time and you got one of those tins (possibly decorated with a Christmas kitty) filled with flavored popcorn! Or maybe your kids want to make a popcorn garland for the tree. At any time of year, you may have popped some popcorn to eat while watching TV. At any rate, Fluffy has decided she wants some. Should you give her any? Is popcorn bad for cats?
Do cats eat popcorn?
It’s been established that cats who eat commercial cat food may already be eating corn as a filler and cheap carbohydrates. It’s nontoxic, but not entirely nutritious for them. But can cats eat popcorn? They might nibble on just about anything for the sake of curiosity. They may find the smell alluring. The sound of popcorn being made might be alarming to some cats, but some cats might want to investigate.
Anything warm is sure to attract your furry buddy. Do keep in mind that while popcorn does contain B vitamins, iron, fiber and minerals, they would present a negligible amount to a cat’s diet.
Can cats have popcorn?
The safest way to serve a cat popcorn is plain and air popped. Your cat is more likely to eat it when it’s still hot and fresh. Otherwise, she might just toy with it. This should be in the strictest of moderation, however. Popcorn has low nutritional value for cats and should be just a small treat.
Unpopped kernels are bad for a cat’s teeth and can cause digestive problems later. Keep a finger brush handy in case she gets any fragments stuck in her teeth and make sure there’s plenty of water available for her to drink.
Is popcorn safe for cats?
Popcorn has a lot of additives that are very bad for cats. Let’s take that Christmas tin with the trifecta of butter, cheese and caramel. Dairy products in general are not good for adult cats. Butter is also rather fattening. Even if your cheese popcorn is the imitation “cheese food” type, the cheese seasoning tends to include garlic or onion powder. Neither is good for a feline. Caramel is way too much sugar to give to a cat.
If you got your hands on some gourmet chocolate popcorn (or just went a little crazy with the almond bark) do not under any circumstances give this to your cat. Read more here about chocolate toxicity in cats.
Nearly all popcorn is heavily treated with salt, which your cat really does not need.
Can kittens eat popcorn?
We are talking about a tiny digestive tract here. That means Junior could easily choke on something or have it caught in his intestines, causing him no small amount of discomfort. Kittens just big enough for solids should only eat soft, bite sized things they can’t possibly choke on.
A kitten’s first solids should also be rich in protein and taurine to help him grow and build up his energy. Corn does not have what a growing kitten needs. If your kitten is on solids, it’s time to wean him away from dairy as well so no butter or cheese.
Popcorn isn’t healthy for kittens and proves a choking hazard. Elderly cats also may not have anything to benefit from popcorn.
Dangers of Popcorn For Felines
If your cat gets into popcorn that has flavorings she can’t have, it may cause vomiting, nausea, upset stomach and high blood pressure. Too much salt can even stimulate heart failure in a cat. Get her to a vet immediately if she experiences any of these symptoms. Some cats are allergic to corn in any form. Always monitor your cat after feeding her anything new to see if she has a bad reaction to it.
Keep in mind that your four legged friend needs nutrition in the form of meat. Popcorn should be a rare treat if ever used. There are kitty treats available that she may prefer anyway.
If your cat is choking on a popcorn kernel or any object, here’s how you can help her. Extend her head and neck. Open the mouth to look for a foreign object. If you can’t safely pull the object out, you can do the feline version of the Heimlich maneuver on her. Pick her up and place her spine against your chest. Place your hands at her waist line under the ribs. Perform five quick abdominal thrusts.
If that doesn’t work, suspend the cat by the hips with her head hanging down and sweep her mouth with your finger. You can also try blows between the shoulder blades. Keep doing this until the object is loose, then take Kitty to the vet.
While a flake or two of popcorn will not likely kill your cat, not only is it low in nutritional value but most popcorn toppings are toxic to felines.
If your cat absolutely must have some popcorn, feed her a little bit of plain, air popped popcorn with no unpopped kernels. While the popcorn itself is fairly harmless, the flavorings commonly served on popcorn tend to be very unhealthy for felines. Kittens in particular should not eat popcorn at all.
If your cat experiences vomiting or any other stomach upset, she could be suffering from a bad reaction to popcorn. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure. Always look out for your furry friend’s best interests and get her to a vet if she needs one.
- Food Allergies in Cats at wagwalking.com by Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
- Nutrition Basics for Your Kitten: What You Should Know at Vetstreet
- Salt Toxicity in Cats By Dr. Becker at Mercola.com
- Popcorn: A “Pop” History by Tori Avey at Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) pbs.org