Imagine it’s movie night and your feline friend starts cuddling up next to you to keep you company.
Or, is she just trying to get a taste of that delicious popcorn in your lap?
But is popcorn even safe for cats?
Can Cats Have Popcorn?
They can, but they probably shouldn’t. Eating popcorn isn’t likely to pose any trouble to your cat. However, there are certain risks to take into consideration before letting your cat scoop up loose kernels off the floor.
Is Popcorn Safe for Cats?
Popcorn isn’t inherently toxic or harmful to cats of any age or breed. However, that doesn’t mean that you should frequently feed Mr. Whiskers kernels of popcorn. But, theoretically, popcorn that has been popped using an air fryer and that has had no flavorings or salt added is okay for cats to eat in moderation. But, let’s be honest, how many of us eat popcorn that way? Where’s the butter? The salt?
What Are Some Health Benefits of Popcorn?
For you and I, if unsalted and unflavored, popcorn can deliver a variety of health benefits to humans. Popcorn is so nutritious, in fact, that it has been designated as a whole grain food. This low-calorie snack is incredibly fibrous and is chock-full of essential nutrients and vitamins including B1, B3, B6 and minerals like zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
Additionally, due to their low water content, popcorn kernels are uniquely rich in polyphenol antioxidants which have been linked to improving circulation, helping digestive issues, and reducing the risk of prostate and breast cancer. But, a cat is not a human, so these benefits don’t necessarily follow!
What Are Some Risks of Feeding Popcorn to Cats?
There are many reasons to be cautious about feeding your cat popcorn. The first has to do with your cat’s weight. While we may think of popcorn as a low-calorie snack, it’s a different story for cats. Cats need far fewer daily calories than we do, which means eating too much of this “low-calorie” snack can actually contribute to our whiskered pal gaining weight.
Cats aren’t even really supposed to eat carbs anyway – they’re obligate carnivores. That means they should try and eat as few carbohydrates and grains (like corn kernels) as possible in their daily diet. Cats who eat too many carbs may develop digestive issues such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Plus, like dogs, cats should avoid eating too much salt. Otherwise, they can develop a potentially life-threatening condition known as sodium poisoning, or salt poisoning. Popcorn can also contain hydrogenated oil which can cause a variety of symptoms, eventually leading to fatty liver.
Unfortunately, the prepackaged, microwavable varieties found in grocery stores also contain significant amounts of perfluorooctanoic acid, which has been linked to ADHD and thyroid problems in humans. The large quantity of artificial butter, while certainly delicious, also poses a potential issue. Artificial butter is flavored using the chemical compound named diacetyl which has been shown to cause lung disease in animals if they breathe it in.
Lastly, the kernels can pose a serious choking hazard, especially for kittens. If you’re going to feed your cat popcorn, make sure it’s a fully popped piece. If you notice your cat having trouble swallowing, grab a water dish and get your cat to take sips to dislodge any stuck pieces of kernel.
How to Get Your Cat to Stop Eating Popcorn
Some cats feel enchanted by the rich smell of popcorn, others are just compelled to seek out any food that’s nearby. Regardless, sometimes we slip up and our cats get to a few kernels of popcorn here and there.
Two of the simplest solutions for you to adopt in order to stop your cat from eating popcorn are:
- Covering the snack when you leave the room, and
- Never giving in to your cat’s demands.
No matter how convincing they are or how loud they’re yowling, just remember: eating popcorn isn’t good for your cat and that you shouldn’t give it to them.
Okay…just one more bite.
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