Popcorn has become one of the most popular foods in the snack industry. It has become so iconic that the snack has become synonymous with things such as movies, carnivals, or birthday parties.
However, popcorn can also be a rather messy snack due to being small and easily break apart. Often while eating it, more than a few stray pieces end up falling on the floor where our pets, cats especially, are quick to pounce on these little bits. This raises the question of whether it is safe for our pets to eat them.
Can Cats Eat Popcorn?
The answer to this question is a bit complicated. On paper, popcorn is not among the ASPCA (Animal Poison Control Center) list of dangerous foods. This means that popcorn alone is not toxic and is perfectly safe for consumption for cats.
What makes it dangerous to cats though are the other things in it. Popcorn is rarely served by itself and often has added ingredients like butter and salt, or comes packaged with chemicals. While these are fine for humans, cats may not be able to digest these extra ingredients, and feeding this to them can cause problems with their health.
Can cats eat buttered popcorn?
Butter is among those extra toppings popcorn often comes, artificial butter in particular. It is also one of those toppings that pose a major health risk to your cat.
-Artificial butter contains large amounts of diacetyl: Diacetyl is a type of chemical that can cause issues such as lung disease in animals. Cats especially susceptible if they breathe it in or consume it in large amounts.
-Cats are lactose intolerant: Contrary to popular belief, most cats are not actually able to eat dairy. Cats cannot eat butter or any kind of dairy product for that matter. Feeding them things like butter or cheese can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.
-Adult cats should not be drinking milk: Milk is a thing that you should probably avoid feeding cats once they reach adulthood. At that stage of their life, milk is something that should already be phased out as it is no longer a natural part of their diet. By that point, milk can be very fattening if you give it to them.
Can cats eat cheddar popcorn?
Much of what was said about butter can also apply to cheddar popcorn. Cheese does not make up any part of your cat’s regular diet and should not be given to your cat in large amounts or in most circumstances.
Cheddar in particular has the issue of having large amounts of salt in it. Cats are not able to eat large amounts of salt and feeding them too much of it can cause sodium poisoning. Salt can also cause dehydration in your cat. This leads to them drinking more water than usual and can leave them to suffer from excessive urination.
Can kittens eat popcorn?
While popcorn can be safe for adult cats, the same cannot be said about young kittens. At this point in their lives, kittens have only just matured enough to be able to eat solid food. This means that they can only eat things that are soft and bite-sized. So they should be kept away from popcorn.
-They need protein more: Since they are just beginning to eat solid food, they should be fed things with protein in order for them to build up energy and strength. This is something simply not found in popcorn.
-They should already be moving away from dairy: Additionally, this is a time when kittens should actually be transitioning away from dairy so popcorn with butter or cheese on it will do them no good.
-It is a choking hazard: Feeding them popcorn also has the everpresent risk of choking. The unpopped popcorn seeds also be a choking hazard if your cat manages to eat a few as they are too hard for them to break apart properly.
Is popcorn good for cats?
Given what was said, it is easy to assume that cats should not be given any popcorn at all because it can kill them. This is not entirely true as there are some ways popcorn can be prepared that is not harmful to cats.
A good example of this is air-popped popcorn. Because this does not have all the unhealthy chemicals and addons that that normally prepared popcorn it carries far fewer of the risks regular popcorn has.
As mentioned earlier, popcorn itself is not dangerous for cats and it’s more the addons that make it harmful. So lightly seasoning popcorn takes out some of the worst parts of it for your cat.
Benefits of popcorn for cats
If prepared properly, popcorn can actually offer a number of health benefits for your cat. These are often overlooked given how many risks there are with feeding them popcorn. While the health benefits of eating popcorn are much more noticeable in humans, that is not to say that cats get nothing from eating popcorn.
Cats do not normally get much nutrition out of it, but popcorn still offers a number of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
Popcorn also has a surprising amount of polyphenol antioxidant properties in it. While polyphenol can normally be found in fruits, they are also often diluted by the juices. This means that the antioxidant properties are much more concentrated in popcorn.
These antioxidants can be used to help regulate your cat’s bodily systems, particularly their digestion and oxygen circulation. This can be a big help in preventing them from contracting cancer.
Is popcorn Bad For Cats?
It is clear that feeding your cat popcorn does have its fair shares of benefits, especially if prepared properly. It would not be fair though to discuss only the positives of popcorn, and we must talk about some of the risks that come with it.
The popcorn itself is not the bad part of it, the toppings though can be a huge risk. Nearly all of the flavors that come with popcorn such as salt, spice, and sugar are not good for your cat.
-Too much salter and butter: Often times things like butter or salt can outweigh any potential benefits the popcorn has. It is actually these ingredients that are toxic to your cat and cause things like high blood pressure.
-High amounts of sugar in popcorn: Aside from salt, there are also problems with sugar. Too much of this can cause a toxic reaction with your cat that can cause it to become very sick. It can even stimulate heart failure in your cat.
-Microwave popcorn is especially dangerous: The popcorn bags they are packed in often contain perfluorooctanoic acids in them. This puts the cat at risk of developing thyroid problems if they are exposed to these acids.
-Allergies: Like humans, some cats may even be allergic to corn. This means that they cannot even eat popcorn to begin with and eating it may cause things like swelling.
How much popcorn Can a cat Eat Daily?
One thing consistently agreed upon is that cats should not be given any more than a small amount of popcorn. This is regardless of whether it is seasoned or not, its health benefits, or even if they like it. Many experts are clear that it should be reserved only as a small treat from time to time.
At the end of the day, popcorn is not a normal part of the cat’s diet. Cats are mostly carnivorous at the end of the day and should be getting their daily nutrients from meat. Popcorn will not do much for them and should not be handed out any more than the occasional snacks.
If you do wish to give out some popcorn, then it is important to remember that cats, like all animals, cats need a balanced diet to stay healthy. Treats like popcorn should only make out a small portion of a cat’s diet. At most, it should not exceed ten percent of a cat’s average meal.
As tasty as popcorn is, it is probably for the best if it remains just like human food and that cats do not get much of it. If you want cats to remain healthy and happy, then it is best to practice moderation when giving them any of it. Those little bits that fall on the floor are probably the most they should be allowed to eat.