Years ago I had a cat that would go bananas over popcorn. She would cry and mew until I gave in and tossed her a few kernels of the crunchy stuff. But was I doing her a favor, or worse yet, actually causing her harm?
Can cats eat popcorn? The answer isn’t clear-cut.
Read on for some facts about feeding popcorn to our feline friends.
Cats and Popcorn
As a general rule-of-paw, feeding young kittens or senior cats popcorn is not recommended as it can pose a choking hazard. However, for those adult felines, popcorn may not be harmful (in its purest form), but it also doesn’t provide any nutritional benefits.
Yes, you may add corn as an additive in your pet’s daily kibble, but this is used by manufacturers as a cheap way to “bulk up” the food. Too much corn (or filler) in a cat’s diet can lead to skin conditions, a dry coat and flaky skin. Your cat may also pack on those unwanted pounds as corn is a carb that is quickly converted to sugar in the body.
That being said, corn isn’t all “evil.” It does contain small amounts of fiber, B vitamins, iron and protein, just not enough to sustain a healthy body.
Watch Out For Toxic Additives
Plain popcorn isn’t bad for our felines (in small amounts) it’s the additives that can be dangerous and even toxic. These include brands that add in onion and garlic powders. Too much salt and butter and especially those artificial kinds of butter that the microwavable varieties tend to add can also cause stomach upset.
You will also want to avoid gourmet popcorn that uses chocolate, candy coatings, caramel or heavy process cheeses. These can all be harmful to your feline friend.
Cats and Popcorn in a Nutshell
The aroma of corn turning in the microwave was all it took for my fur baby to start her popcorn “dance.” Fortunately, she never suffered any adverse effects from her mooching. If you have a popcorn kitty, limit her to a few pieces and be sure it doesn’t have any potentially harmful additives.
And even though popcorn may be alright for cats on occasion, be sure to inspect the kernel to ensure it is fully popped before you toss it onto the floor for Fluffy. Half-popped corn can be difficult for your cat to chew and pass through her intestinal system.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is your cat can enjoy popcorn. Make it plain, fully popped and only a few at a time to ensure her treat stays safe and fun.