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Can Cats Eat Popcorn? Things to consider Before Sharing

By Bridget Reed


Popcorn is a great snack for plenty of reasons. It’s tasty, quick and easy to make, and satisfyingly crunchy. It’s no surprise that popcorn has become a staple at theaters everywhere since you can easily munch on a bowl of popcorn while watching a TV show or movie.

However, if your kitty has ever gotten into your popcorn bowl, you might wonder if popcorn is bad for cats. It has plenty of benefits for humans, but those might not cover the potential health hazards popcorn could cause your cat.

While you probably don’t have to worry about a kernel or two winding up in your cat’s stomach, it’s better to keep popcorn away from your cat. This crunchy snack isn’t good for felines and could even harm them in large quantities.

Read on to find out why popcorn is so great for humans, what makes it a bad snack for cats, and what kinds of human food you can safely share with your kitty.

Is Popcorn Healthy?

Not only is popcorn delicious, but it also offers plenty of health benefits for humans. While a bowl of popcorn loaded with butter and salt might not be the most nutritious snack in the world, there are still some great ingredients in every kernel that you won’t want to miss.

For one thing, popcorn comes from whole grains. Whole grain foods can support the body’s immune system, which is good news for your overall health. 

Popcorn is also extra-high in fiber, an important ingredient that supports digestive health. Eating plenty of fiber can feed the good gut bacteria that help you digest and process other foods. Your stomach can suffer if you don’t get enough fiber in your diet.

Popcorn contains antioxidants known as polyphenols, which support the body’s natural defenses against free radicals. Polyphenols have many benefits, including healthy digestion. 

Due to its low calories and high fiber content, popcorn can be a great snack for weight loss. Eating popcorn can be very filling, even when the total calorie content is low. One study discovered that 150 calories worth of potato chips were just as filling as 15 calories as popcorn.

As you can see, popcorn on its own can be a healthy and nutritious snack for humans. Unfortunately, popcorn doesn’t offer the same benefits to cats.

Is Popcorn Bad for Cats?

If you’re wondering whether your cat can eat popcorn safely, you should remember that cats are obligate carnivores. That means they need a diet high in quality meat protein.

Popcorn does not provide cats with the nutrients they need. However, it’s also not as dangerous as some other human foods.

Popcorn is not toxic to cats, so you don’t need to panic if your kitty gets their paws on a kernel or two. However, there can be some health risks posed by popcorn that you should watch for.


If you’ve ever eaten a kernel of popcorn, you probably noticed how airy and light it was. Popcorn is not a dense food; it’s one of the lightest snacks around. This means it poses a potential choking hazard for cats.

Cats have much smaller throats and airways than we do, and popcorn kernels are large enough to block their airflow completely. If your cat manages to gobble up a piece of popcorn, there’s a chance they’ll accidentally inhale it and start choking. 

While most cats will be fine after chewing on a kernel, the risk may not be worth taking. You should call an emergency vet if your cat has difficulty breathing after eating popcorn. They’ll be able to guide you through the best way to help your kitty.

Plenty of Carbs

Carbohydrates and fat are the primary ingredients in popcorn, with protein as a distant third. While humans eat lots of carbs regularly, cats don’t have the same digestive system that we do.

While humans evolved to eat more grains over time, cats remained carnivores. Their body isn’t built for large quantities of carbs. A balanced cat diet doesn’t require carbohydrates at all.

Carb-heavy foods such as popcorn can cause negative side effects, such as rapid weight gain. One or two kernels won’t harm your cat, but you should never intentionally feed them popcorn; this innocent snack can cause major health problems to your kitty.


While plain popcorn isn’t toxic to cats, this snack frequently includes other ingredients. Salt and butter are especially common, but many people also garnish popcorn with caramel, spices, and even chocolate.

While a little bit of oil or butter won’t harm your cat, too much salt can cause serious issues. Other ingredients, such as caramel and cinnamon, can cause serious damage to your cat. You shouldn’t feed chocolate to your cat since it’s toxic to most animals.

Cats and Popcorn Just Don’t Mix

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to keep your cat away from your popcorn. While your kitty will probably be fine if they eat a stray unseasoned kernel, you should never intentionally feed your cat popcorn.

The best diet for your cat is meat-based, high-quality cat food. We recommend one of our super premium cat food recipes, such as our Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe for Indoor Cats. With fresh chicken as a first ingredient and all the right vitamins and antioxidants for immune system support, your cat will have everything they need to thrive.

Steer clear of the popcorn and choose complete and balanced nutrition. It’s the best way to support your cat’s health and wellness for many years to come.

What Snacks Can I Share With My Cat?

We have some good news if you’d still like to share some food with your cat. You can split several healthy snacks with your kitty in moderate quantities.

They should still get most of their nutrition from their cat food, but if you’d like to give your kitty a treat every once in a while, go ahead. As long as you keep the portion sizes small, here are some great options for you and your cat:

• Unseasoned lean deli meat

• Cooked chicken

• Polenta

• Cooked eggs

• Cucumber

• Brown rice

• Cantaloupe

    Fish is another option that the majority of cats will eagerly gobble up. However, ensure your cat is only eating small quantities of cooked or canned fish without seasonings or other toppings.

    You can also choose fish-based cat food, such as our Salmon & Brown Rice Recipe. Your kitty will love the taste of salmon and appreciate the total skin and digestive support. Meanwhile, you can rest easy knowing your cat is getting clean protein without poultry by-products.

    Keeping Your Cat Out of the Popcorn

    As you can see, popcorn might be a great treat for binge-watching your favorite show, but it’s not so great for your kitty. 

    You can appreciate a bowl of popcorn while keeping your cat at arm’s length or choose a snack that both of you can safely share. Either way, you’ll look out for your cat’s health and share some tasty food. What’s better than that?


    Popcorn Nutrition Facts: A Healthy, Low-Calorie Snack? | Healthline

    Can Cats Eat Popcorn? | All About Cats

    Can Cats Eat Popcorn?: Toxicity and Nutrition Information | Rover

    People Foods Cats Can Eat | Fetch

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