Pet Wellness Guides > Can Cats Eat Popcorn? - Pet Insurance Review

Can Cats Eat Popcorn?

Posted: 11/02/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Cat , Pet care , Top Tips

There’s almost no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than curled up on the couch, binging your favorite Netflix show and snacking on a bowl of freshly popped popcorn. If you’re a cat parent, you’ve probably witnessed your cat snag a piece of popcorn and bat it around. Maybe they even crunch on it like a delicious treat! But can cats eat popcorn, or is it not a good idea?

As with any human food, there are definitely some things to be aware of should you decide to share your popcorn with your fur baby. 

Key Points

  • Popcorn is loaded with fiber and important vitamins and minerals like zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B3 and B6.
  • Popcorn also contains powerful antioxidants that can help fight diseases like cancer.
  • Popcorn is not toxic to cats and can safely be given to them.
  • Stick to only plan popcorn, as the added butter oils, salt and other seasonings can be problematic to cats.

can cats eat popcorn?

Does Popcorn Have Any Health Benefits?

Yes actually, this crunchy treat does offer some pretty cool nutritional benefits. To start, popcorn is considered a whole grain food. As such, it’s full of beneficial fiber as well as some important vitamins and minerals like B1, B3, B6, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.

In addition, popcorn contains powerful plant antioxidants, which have been shown to improve circulation, boost immunity, and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, like breast and prostate cancer.

These antioxidants, called polyphenols, are found in many fruits and veggies. However, typically this chemical is diluted from the high water content in produce. Popcorn contains very little water, usually just 4%, so you get a concentrated amount of these powerful antioxidants!

Okay, okay, that all sounds great, but the question still remains, can cats eat popcorn? The answer to that is… yes and no…

Should I Let My Cat Have Popcorn?

The short answer is, yes you can absolutely give your cat some popcorn. There is nothing in popcorn, in and of itself, that is toxic or harmful to cats. Having said that, you should really only share your popcorn with your fur baby if it’s plain, without any added butter, salt, spices, seasonings, caramel flavor, etc. Onion and garlic seasoning can be problematic for cats, as can other artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Also, butter is very fatty, and allowing your cat to eat too much fat all at once can easily give them digestive upset with vomiting and/or diarrhea. 

The other thing to watch out for with popcorn is the size. Cats have tiny mouths and a large ice of popcorn could pose a choking hazard and even a potential intestinal blockage hazard. If you’ve watched your cat and they don’t eat popcorn but just like batting a piece around for 3 minutes before walking away completely bored, then that’s fine. But if your kitty is actually a fan of chomping and eating the stuff, it’s a good idea to break one big piece of popcorn into tiny little pieces and offer those. 

Cats are Obligate Carnivores

You may have assumed popcorn was fine to give cats because most commercial cat foods contain some kind of grain. And that grain is, more often than not, corn or cornmeal. And that’s because it is so cheap, it makes it cost effective for manufacturers to add some for fiber content. Corn and corn meal also act as bonding agents that help keep ingredients together.

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The thing to remember is, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they process protein and vitamins most efficiently through animal protein, not fruits and veggies. All of this is to say, while certain vegetables like potatoes and corn are often in cat foods, and they are perfectly safe to give a cat, they simply take up space in your cat’s stomach without providing them any real nutritional value. Keep that in mind when offering snacks and treats to your fur baby.

Healthier Snack Options Than Popcorn

We get it. It’s hard to say no to your kitty when she blinks at you, begging you to share your popcorn with her. But there are other treat alternatives.

According to the ASPCA, the following foods are non-toxic for cats:

  • Bananas
  • Beets (cooked and peeled)
  • Broccoli (cooked)
  • Cucumber
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries
  • Pumpkin (canned is fine but NO sugar added)
  • Zucchini (cooked)

Anytime you decide to offer your fur baby a treat like the above, opt for organic if you can. Be sure to cook any veggies (raw veggies are hard for your kitty’s GI tract to break down), and offer small pieces. And remember, healthy or not, all of these foods contain calories, so you want to only offer treats of any kind in moderation.

And, as always, it’s a good idea to check with your vet before giving your cat any new food.

Final Thoughts

Can cats eat popcorn? Yes, they absolutely can. But be sure you break up the popcorn into tiny pieces and only feed your cat plain popcorn. Many additives, colorings, flavors, salt and extra butter or other oils can be problematic and unhealthy for your cat.

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The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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