Can Cats Eat Popcorn? Is It Really That Bad?

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Popcorn has been around for a very long time. It somehow became popular to eat at sporting events and movie theaters. If your cat gets ahold of a couple kernels no need to panic. The article below might surprise you.
A container of popcorn

I think it is safe to say that everyone has tried popcorn once in their life. I don’t know many people that hate the thought of popcorn. There is nothing better than popping a fresh batch of corn and sitting down with your favorite movie. I like to mix in some kind of chocolate pieces for an even bigger flavor explosion. Just when you pull up the blanket, your furry friend will start to take notice and have to see what is in the bowl. You’re doing your snacking and then you think to yourself, can cats eat popcorn? What if I gave Watson (our cat) some popcorn to try while he watches the movie too.

The answer to this question may surprise you and I encourage you to continue reading for more information. There are a lot of different popcorn types on the market and I will cover the most popular ones in the following article.

So Can Cats Eat Popcorn?

Bowl of popcorn near a fire

The answer to this question is yes and no, depending on the type of popcorn you give them. Let me explain before you start yelling at me in the comments.

Catster says that, “any kind of popcorn that has artificial flavorings like onion, garlic, butter, or salt” is bad for your furry friend. Also the gourmet kinds of popcorn like caramel, candied, chocolate, and cheese coated could be harmful to your cat if they manage to eat a couple pieces. Combining these flavor enhancers to the popcorn eliminates any potential health benefits your cat could get.

The recommended kind of popcorn to serve to your cat is the freshly made kind without any flavorings and enhancements. Also air-popped popcorn is recommended because it makes it much more intriguing to your cat to eat. Plain popcorn really doesn’t present any risks to your cat but it also doesn’t really provide any nutritional benefits either. It is sort of a neutral food.

When you start to introduce flavorings and other seasonings into the mix, is when it can become harmful to your cat. It’s best to leave the flavorings on the shelf and get the plain boring option.

Popped vs. Kernel

A pile of popcorn kernels

I’m sure we have all experienced an un-popped kernel in our bowl before, because it probably almost broke your teeth. It usually comes as a surprise when you’re eating the soft popcorn pieces and you get a really hard kernel that sneaks its way into your mouth. Most of the time it feels like your tooth is going to break in half when you chomp down on it.

You don’t want your cat to go through the same thing when they are playing with the popcorn. Your cat might not know better to spit the kernel out. If they don’t spit it out, it could break some of their teeth and also create a choking hazard if ingested the wrong way.

If you do decide to give your cat a couple pieces of popcorn it should be inspected first to make sure there aren’t any kernels to fight with. After you pop all the kernels, you want to make sure you’re picking the best pieces of popcorn to give as a treat. You also don’t want a piece of the kernel to get stuck in between your cat’s teeth because it could lead to bigger issues down the line.

Some articles suggest brushing your cats teeth lightly after they have some popcorn. This will make sure everything is removed in between their teeth.

How Often Should I Give Popcorn?

Popcorn should not be incorporated into your cat’s daily food intake. It should only be used as a reward system and given on a very limited basis. The reason for this, is because it doesn’t really provide any health benefits the same way watermelons or apples do.

So when people ask, can cats eat popcorn, I like to respond back to them by saying yes but only on rare occasions. Also the popcorn needs to be free of any flavorings or coatings.

It’s nice to give a different type of texture to your cat’s food bowl. The crunchy texture will make the food more appealing and desirable. That is why I like to use it as a sort of reward system. It also works well if you are trying to get your cat to eat something they really don’t like. Just sprinkle in some popcorn and they will eat the whole bowl.

What To Look For After Eating

There are some important signs to look for after your cat eats popcorn to make sure everything is getting digested properly. If you notice any of these symptoms I would stop feeding your cat popcorn immediately because it shows that their stomachs can’t handle it. Some common things to look for are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rashes or lumps

If you stop feeding them popcorn and the symptoms seem to get worse I would bring them to the vet immediately for further diagnosis. It could be that they have a kernel stuck in their throat or their stomach can’t handle the new foods. The popcorn shouldn’t kill your cat but it could give them some pain in their stomachs. Just something to be aware of.

Conclusion

So the next time someone asks you, can cats eat popcorn, you will be able to give them a solid answer. Popcorn is an enjoyable thing to eat and compliments movies really well. If you have to do everything with your furry friend then giving them a couple pieces of popcorn won’t hurt.

You just need to be sure the popcorn is unflavored and doesn’t contain any coatings or glazes. This is when the popcorn can become an issue for your furry friend’s stomach. You also want to make sure to remove all the un-popped kernels so they don’t break a tooth of choke on it. If that happens I would suggest taking them to the vet ASAP to get the kernel removed before it does any more damage.

If your cat doesn’t want to eat the popcorn pieces that is ok. They would probably enjoy playing with it as a toy instead. You shouldn’t force your cat to eat anything they don’t want.

So what did you think of this article? Are you going to try and feed your cat a piece of popcorn? Or are you currently feeding them popcorn as you read this article? I would love to hear all about it in the comments below!

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