Julia Bohan / xxmmxx / GlobalP / Getty
Few things can get to the point in a dark cinema or snuggle up on the couch and stage your favorite show like a large bowl of freshly popped popcorn. For many cat owners, the sight of their cat friends holding a large core in their paws and chewing on the puffy white pieces is irresistibly adorable. But, as with any human food, there are a few things to consider when sharing popcorn with your cat.
Can a Cat Eat Popcorn Safely?
Yes, but there is a catch. Freshly popped popcorn does not contain anything toxic to cats, regardless of age or breed. However, this only applies to plain popcorn. Toppings like butter, salt, caramel, and a variety of condiments and condiments like garlic can cause health problems for your cat.
“Butter is so high in fat that your cat can vomit or have diarrhea fairly easily,” says Kaci Angelone, DVM, MS of Denver, Colorado. “A few simple pieces straight out of the bag are fine, but you’ll still want to keep the quantities low.”
From a nutritional point of view, not much is happening either. This means that popcorn just takes up a lot of space in your kitty’s stomach without giving back much in vitamins or protein.
Corn is in cat food. Why is popcorn not healthy for cats?
When you look at the ingredients of most commercially available pet foods, one type of cereal – usually corn or cornmeal – is highlighted. This is because corn is a cheap, readily available source of fiber for pet food and acts as a binder to help hold foods together. However, because cats are obligate carnivores, meat protein is the most efficient way of processing their protein and vitamins. This means that vegetables, starches like bread or potatoes, and corn alone take up space in your cat’s stomach without providing them with the protein or vitamins they need.
The story goes on
CONNECTED: 15 Toxic Human Foods That You Should Never Feed Your Cat
Aside from diet, popcorn can pose other risks
If your cat steals a kernel of popcorn from your bowl one night, don’t panic. It will be important, however, to keep them away from the extra salt, butter, oils, and condiments that people like on their popcorn. If your cat ingests some fully loaded grains, keep an eye on them for dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of digestive problems.
Additionally, if you want to give your kitten a taste of popcorn, make sure the individual kernels aren’t too big.
“Cats tend to have smaller mouths than small dogs,” says Angelone. “Breaking open large bites of food is becoming more important to them to prevent choking or constipation hazards.”
CONNECTED: How to save a suffocating cat
Healthier alternatives to popcorn
If your goal is to share a snack with your cat, there are a few other common human treats cats can eat without the risk of suffocation or poor digestion. According to ASPCA, these foods are non-toxic to cats:
CONNECTED: 9 Human Foods That Are Safe For Kitty
Regardless of the type of treatment you give your cat, always do it in moderation and check with your veterinarian first to make sure it is safe. Good quality cat food should be the main source of calories and nutrition, with treats being a comparatively rare indulgence.