Can Cats Eat Popcorn? Is Popcorn Safe for Cats?

Last Updated on: September 21, 2020

Can cats eat popcorn? That’s the cat food question we are looking into today. To get straight to the point, cats can eat popcorn, but with restrictions. Additionally, they should not make a habit out of doing so, and only a little should be given to them at any one time.

The essential ingredient of popcorn (obviously being corn) is not particularly high in nutritional value when it comes to our feline companions.

Furthermore, the flavorings that popcorn is often served with are in many cases outright bad for cats.

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Cats and Popcorn – The Precautions

Cat’s digestive systems are actually quite sensitive. A sudden change in diet can lead to problems. Even swapping one cat food brand to another is enough to unsettle them. Introducing human foods into their diet will often have the same result.

A cat would normally be fine with a small amount of plain popcorn, there is nothing there that is toxic to them.

However, corn is a starched based grain and heavy in carbohydrates. Cats do not have a biological need for grain. In fact, cats do not produce the necessary enzymes, (amylase) in their saliva to properly digest carbohydrates in this form.

The starch-based grain in popcorn is not the best for cats

In the wild, only around 10% of a cat’s diet comes from plant-based food. The grain they do consume is already partly digested in the stomachs of their prey.

Because of this, too much carbohydrate (in the form of popcorn) can affect your cat’s delicate digestive system. There is also a chance of the undigested corn fermenting within their stomachs leading to abdominal pain and flatulence.

Easing Your Cats Diarrhea Caused by Popcorn

If your cat ends up with an upset stomach or diarrhea, as a result of eating too much popcorn or other high carb foods, one of the best ways of stopping the symptoms is to have some nutritional supplements at hand.

One we highly recommend is FortiFlora FELINE. This has gained a lot of positive feedback and is available at discount at HealthyPets.Com.

What Popcorn Ingredients are Harmful to Cats

Now we move on to the ingredients. Too much salt is a big no, no for cats. A high sodium diet can lead to heart and blood issues such as Hypernatremia – a term used to describe too much sodium in the bloodstream.

Sodium plays a part in many critical bodily functions, including the regulation of blood pressure, blood volume as well as balancing the acid-base within the body. If too much sodium is present, these balances can be disturbed leading to long terms health issues such as high blood pressure and heart failure.

Similar dangers exist if a cat has too much sugar in their diet. If sugar or sticky treacle coats your popcorn, and you feed you cat some, they are getting too high a dose of foods that are not good for them. A high sugar diet can lead to conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Too major health problems for cats.

One kernel is enough – we advise you to keep cats away from popcorn.

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Image Credit: Ramachrh, Wikimedia Commons

Can Cats Eat Popcorn – Any Benefits?

If you’ve read this far you will appreciate that there are very little benefits to adding popcorn to your cat’s diet. There is an argument that the little bit of fiber contained in the corn can help bind their stool. However, with the other potential adverse effects, there are certainly better ways of making sure your cat gets the fiber they need.

There is of course the delight that one may get in sharing their foods with the feline friend, while curled up in front of the sofa and watching a film. But this does not have your cat’s best health interests at heart, and that should always be an owner’s priority.

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On other websites, you may get the full green light for cats eating popcorn. And while we are of the opinion a tiny amount of popcorn will not harm your cat, foods that lack any nutritional benefit are always best avoided. For one it is a rather unnecessary habit to get into.

If you really feel the need to do so, air-popped corn will be okay as long as it is plain. No salt, sugar, or other sweet toppings should be in place.

And remember there could side effects if your cat eats too much. Which does raise the question – why bother?

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock, Ekaterina Kuzovkova