Corn dates back 10,000 years to modern-day Mexico. Fossil evidence from Peru suggests that corn was popped as early as 4,700 BC, and thousands of years later it continues to be a popular treat! The popcorn industry in the United States alone is valued at over $1 billion annually. This shouldn't be too surprising; any movie-watching experience is incomplete today without a tub of popcorn.
Can Cats Eat Popcorn?
Cats can eat plain, air-popped popcorn. But before going ahead and sharing a tub of popcorn with your cat, there are a few more things you should know. For example, how much popcorn is safe to give to a cat, and what happens if a cat eats too much popcorn.
Do Cats Like Popcorn?
Cats are often intrigued by the foods they see their families eating. But not every cat enjoys the same treats. There is no way to know for sure if your cat will enjoy popcorn, but if you have unseasoned popcorn, feel free to give your cat a piece to taste test.
Is Popcorn Good for Cats?
While it may seem like a basic snack, popcorn is a good source of –
The low-calorie count makes it a healthier snack for individuals wanting to lose weight. Popcorn also contains fiber which can help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, improve digestion, and prevent constipation in humans. It also contains antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage and has low glycemic levels which make it a good snack option for individuals with diabetes.
While we can get these benefits from eating popcorn, can a cat get all of these same benefits?
Health Benefits of Popcorn for Cats
In its plain air-popped form, popcorn can provide a few different benefits to your cat. The fiber found in popcorn can aid in digestion. The crunchy texture of popcorn can help support a cat's dental health by promoting chewing and potentially reducing plaque buildup.
Risks of Popcorn for Cats
Butter - Butter is high in fat and can cause a cat to experience vomiting and diarrhea.
Additives - The salt, seasonings, and flavors added to popcorn can be harmful to cats and can lead to digestive upset, dehydration, and other health issues. Keep in mind that garlic seasoning is toxic to cats and should never be added to popcorn that you plan on sharing with your pet.
Choking hazard – If your cat is snacking on a bowl of popcorn, watch and make sure that they do not eat any raw or unpopped kernels. The kernels can pose a serious choking hazard for your pet. Read this article to learn what to do if your pet is choking.
Dental Concerns - Hard kernels may cause dental problems or damage to a cat's teeth, issues which can be expensive to treat, and cause financial strain to pet parents. Pet insurance can help pet parents with the cost of eligible bills, and can provide additional financial support for vet bills. Learn more about whether pet insurance covers dental.
How Much Popcorn is Okay for Your Cat?
A very basic fundamental to understand is that your cat is carnivorous. So, most of its nutritional requirements should be fulfilled from meat and other cat foods. Popcorn should not be a part of your cat’s regular diet but can be given as an occasional treat. When sharing popcorn with your cat, limit them to no more than 2-3 small popped kernels. Read this article for more diy pet treat ideas.
What Can Happen if Your Cat Eats Too Much Popcorn?
The extra salt, butter, oils, and spices in popcorn can cause digestive tract issues for your cat. If you end up feeding a lot of popcorn to your cat or if they end up eating a lot of it, look out for the following signs and symptoms, and contact your vet immediately -
Other indications of digestive distress.
How Can I Feed Popcorn to My Cat?
It is important to know how exactly to feed that popcorn to your cat. Here are a few simple rules to get you on the right track:
Plain – Let the popcorn be plain, unsalted, and un-seasoned. Adding seasoning can increase the risk that your cat will experience an upset stomach from eating the popcorn.
Popped kernels only – Filter out the half-popped and un-popped popcorn from the plate or tub before placing it in front of your cat. These kernels can pose a choking hazard to your cat.
If you want to offer your cat popcorn occasionally as a fun treat; stick to plain, unsalted, air-popped popcorn. This may not be the most nutritious treat for your cat but if your cat loves the texture and smell, then a tiny bite is completely okay.
"Can Cats Eat Popcorn?" Daily Paws, https://www.dailypaws.com/cats-kittens/cat-nutrition/what-can-cats-eat/can-cats-eat-popcorn, Feb. 9, 2021.
"Can Cats Eat Popcorn?" Pet MD, https://www.petmd.com/cat/nutrition/can-cats-eat-popcorn, Dec. 1, 2024.
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.