This scenario has most probably happened to most pet owners at some point and time. You are sitting down and watching your favorite television show, while munching on a bowl of popcorn.
Without really noticing, some of it falls onto your lap and then you hear a crunching sound – it’s your feline friend crunching on your spilled over popcorn and this prompts you to ask “Can Cats Eat Popcorn?”
About Cats and Popcorn – Facts you need to know
As a rule of thumb, you should keep popcorn out of reach of your cat, simply because it presents a choking hazard. This is especially true when it comes to small and senior cats alike.
However, for most adult cats, you may give them popcorn based on a few factors such as how it is prepared, whether there are additives that could upset his digestive system and what amount you are planning on feeding him.
So preferably, cats must be served popcorn that is made at home, free of kernels and also free of flavorings and toppings which are dangerous to the health of your cat. Store bought popcorn contains excessive amounts of fat and calories, which could end up giving your cat diabetes or obesity. Both of which could be fatal to your feline friend.
Simply by taking a look at the dry bag of kibble you bought for your cat, you will notice that one of the ingredients is corn. Corn is used to create cohesion and also used as a filler. It does also contain a minimal amount of carbohydrates for energy.
Popcorn contains small amounts of fiber, iron, B vitamins and protein. So feeding your cat on a per kernel basis, does not contain much nutritional value for him, however, it is not exactly harmful either. The exception obviously is how you prepare the popcorn and what ingredients you use to season it.
Just remember that salt is not good for cats. A diet that is high in sodium can cause heart and blood issues such as Hypernatremia. Sodium also has a crucial part in regulating the blood volume, pressure and acid base inside the body. An excessive amount of salt in the diet can lead to high blood pressure or ultimately heart failure.
Likewise, popcorn dipped in sugary coatings should under no circumstances be given to your cat. Too much sugar in the diet leads to diabetes or obesity. These are two major medical issues for felines. Cats also cannot taste sugar for some reason, so there is no point to feeding them anything with sugar as they won’t even know that it is there.
Can Cats Eat Popcorn?
Yes! Cats can eat popcorn provided it is the fluffy part. This basically means that the kernel should be fully popped. If you give your cat large amounts of popcorn which still has bits of un-popped kernel, it could present a challenge with digestion, causing discomfort to your feline friend. The kernel also has the tendency to get stuck in his throat causing discomfort.
Everyone knows that you cannot expect every single kernel to pop perfectly. So whether you are buying a bag of popcorn from a store or making it at home, you should sift out the un-popped kernels before feeding it to your cat.
If by mistake your cat ingests an un-popped kernel, just keep a close eye on him to make sure he is not experiencing any discomfort. Keep a bowl of water close by in case it gets stuck in his throat and presents a choking hazard.
Popcorn is known to contain small quantities of fiber, which is good for your cat. However, fiber is also contained in the meat sources that your cat consumes on a daily basis, so it is not necessary to feed popcorn to your cat simply because of this benefit.
So ultimately, feeding your cat popcorn has very little nutritional value, however, if you would like to do it as a bonding experience or out of habit, it is fine as long as you follow the precautions mentioned above to ensure that your cat is kept safe from harm.
Popcorn – Are there any Benefits?
Popcorn includes a minimal amount of nutrition for your cat. Popcorn that has been appropriately prepared without salt, flavorings and un-popped kernels is okay to give to your cat, provided they are not allergic to corn or starch as corn contains starch.
Cats are in fact carnivorous animals and their bodies and internal systems are designed to extract the nutrition needed from meat sources. However, since they are carnivores, their bodies have adapted and barely have the ability to extract nutrients from plant based foods.
This is why feeding your cat anything that is not a meat product serves little to no value for him. However, with regards to the actual vitamins and minerals, you should not expect much from popcorn.
- Popcorn contains fiber that is good for your cat’s digestive system. However, their tiny bodies only require a small amount of fiber and this is usually extracted from their daily intake of meat.
- Since popcorn has low fat and calories, it is considered a healthy food for cats as it cannot cause any health problems, provided it is given to your cat in moderation.
- The fact that it can be made fresh and served without any salt is also a good thing as cats have a low tolerance for sodium rich diets and it can actually be harmful to their health.
Always watch your cat’s reaction after eating popcorn just to make sure that he is not allergic to it. If you notice vomiting, scratching and diarrhea, it is best to refrain from giving him any more popcorn.
In fact, turn your attention to certain healthy cooked vegetables or certain healthy store bought treats for your cat, instead. Avoid store bought popcorn for your cat altogether. They contain loads of flavorings and toppings such as cheese and butter, which are both not good for cats.
Cats in fact have a low tolerance or dairy products and it is hard to digest, which is why you should not give your cat dairy or any dairy related product.
How to Serve Popcorn in your Cats Diet?
Although popcorn itself is safe for your cat, some artificial flavorings and ingredients may not be. This is why it is suggested that you prepare popcorn especially for your cat. So basically popcorn should be served as naturally as possible to your cat.
Ensure that the kernels are all popped when serving it to your cat, in order to avoid choking. A kernel stuck in your cat’s throat can cause vomiting and choking, so only give your cat the fluffy white parts of the popcorn.
Avoid salt and all types of popcorn seasoning. Too much salt in a cat’s diet causes high blood pressure and various other health complications, including heart failure. Popcorn flavorings are extremely high in fat and calories, which is why it is big no no for cats. The fats and calories can cause obesity in cats as well as diabetes, which could be fatal.
Another reason to only serve your cat, popcorn that you made yourself is because artificial popcorn that doesn’t contain salt, sugar and calories may not be entirely safe. In fact some of these low fat store bought popcorns contain an artificial sweetener called Xylitol, which is downright dangerous for your cat. It is poisonous to cats.
Cats cannot taste sweeteners or sugar, so whether sugar is present in their diet or not, they won’t know. In order to be on the safe side, avoid giving your cat sugar altogether. So in a nutshell, popcorn should be served to your cat free of all salt, flavorings and all artificial additives.
Refrain from feeding your cat popcorn with toppings such as butter and cheese as well. What may be good or harmless to you, could be potentially dangerous to your cat. So avoid any type of toppings.
If you insist on feeding your cat popcorn as a treat, serve it plain and offer it to your cat in moderation. This way your cat will be able to identify that this is a treat and not a part of his daily diet.
Are there any Side Effects from Eating Popcorn?
Popcorn that is naturally made and is free from the artificial flavorings, salt, toppings and so on is safe for your cat. However, like all other foods in your cat’s diet it should be given in moderation.
If your cat is allergic to popcorn, there really isn’t any way to know this, aside from when your cat eats popcorn. This is why it is advisable to give your cat just one or two at first, to observe their reaction.
In some cases, if your cat is allergic to popcorn, the symptoms may only show up a few hours or days later. So you just have to be patient and also vigilant, ensuring that you observe your cat’s behavior at all times. In most cases, the symptoms are evident within the first few hours of your cat consuming the popcorn.
If your cat experiences symptoms such a vomiting, diarrhea and scratching then your cat could be allergic to popcorn. In this case, you would need to follow the steps below to ensure that you get medical attention for your cat as soon as possible:
- Remain calm and do not panic, because when you panic, you tend to hesitate
- Call your vet as soon as possible
- Explain what your cat has eaten and explain the symptoms that he is experiencing.
- Your vet will likely ask you to come in with your cat
- Take a sample of your cats stool or vomit, so that further tests can be done
- Once at your vet, he will most probably advise you that he is going to do a thorough physical examination of your cat.
- If needed your cat will have to stay at the vet until he has recuperated.
- If he is well enough to go back home with you, your vet will probably give you medication to administer to him and monitor his behavior over the next few days.
Bottom Line – Can Cats Eat Popcorn?
As a pet owner, you want to do what’s best for your cat and that starts with giving your cat proper nutrition. Whenever you are deciding what to feed your cat, you should immediately cut out human food. It should not even be an option for your cat. This is because most food that is good for humans is not good for cats.
So you can feed popcorn to your cat, but you need to omit the flavorings and toppings. These things contain too many calories, fat and salt to be good for your cat. It could cause several health complications and ultimately be fatal to your cat.
So yes, while popcorn can be served to cats, it should be completely natural and all flavorings and toppings must be excluded. You should also inspect each popcorn to make sure that the kernel is cooked, if not avoid giving it to your cat.
Also, since popcorn does not contain any nutritional value for your cat, aside from a small amount fiber, you should give it to your cat only every once in a while and not every day. You should also serve your cat just a handful and no more at a time.
In fact, any type of treat you give your cat should be served in moderation. There are two reasons for this. One is that your cat must identify that this is a treat and not a meal. Secondly, an excess amount of any type of food, even the most healthy for your cat, could make him sick, simply because he has eaten too much of it.
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