Chances are if you’re reading this post, you’re a movie lover and popcorn fanatic. There’s just something to eating popcorn while watching a movie that feels right, but while popcorn is a very tasty treat for humans, it’s important to take a step back and question “how safe is popcorn for cats?”
Our chinchilla, Gary, is a huge fan of popcorn, but even though organic popcorn is considered safe for chinchillas there are still some safety precautions we have to take. The same can be said for cats.
As is with most human food, especially of the snack variety, popcorn is not considered beneficial in a cat’s diet. At the end of the day, small amounts of popcorn should not harm or impact your cat, however, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cover some of the safety tips you need to know especially if your cat is naughty and stuffs their faces with popcorn when you’re not looking.
WHAT IS POPPED CORN?
Well, popped corn is actually a form of a corn kernel. There are 6 major forms of corn being, sweet corn, flint corn, pod corn, dent corn, flour corn and popcorn. Popcorn by far has one of the hardest seeds out of all the other types of corn.
IS CORN EVER BENEFICIAL FOR CATS?
Since cats are obligate carnivores foods such as corn are not considered beneficial for their overall wellbeing. That being said, dependant on the corn your cat may receive some extra nutrients, however, there are much better alternatives out there.
Popcorn, in particular, is low in sugar, fibre and protein, though it is still considered to be high in calories and carbs.
Although field corn is considered rich in protein and moisture, it also contains a good amount of sugar and garbs making it less than ideal to feed to your cat. That being said, no type of corn will ever be able to provide the proper nutrition for your cat and should be avoided in cat foods as well.
CORN IN CAT FOODS
Before I had pets I wasn’t aware of the array of cat foods, bi-products or even fillers. To be completely honest, I don’t I had been talked to about the real reason why fast food was bad for you or why certain foods leave you hungry even though you eat a large quantity of them. So, I was really grateful when I had my sister to explain to me why certain foods are considered “high-quality” or healthy for cats.
Corn is considered a filler and is actually a leading allergen for cats. Though there are many cats who are able to consume corn with no issue, it has been reported to cause diarrhea, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, vomiting, high blood pressure or even in some cases skin problems.
Some breeds of cats have been known to experience more cases of allergies, although it is still recommended that all breeds avoid foods that contain fillers.
BUT IS POPCORN EVER TOXIC?
It’s complicated, especially with the everchanging food industry.
Commonly plain popcorn kernels will be completely harmless for your kitty to snack on every so often, however, you might want to stay away from all of those toppings we love so much.
Things like butter or synthetic toppings may prove to be extremely harmful to your cat and should be avoided at all costs. Many flavourings are high in sugars, salts or even spicy seasonings that may cause a cat to become ill. Cats may also develop long term health problems if fed such toppings on a regular basis.
CAN MY CAT CHOKE ON POPCORN?
Unfortunately, it is completely possible for your cat to choke on popcorn even when left unpopped. It is extremely important that if you allow your cat to eat popcorn that you break the popcorn down into small little pieces and ensure that there are no pieces of the shell.
Pieces of popcorn may also become lodged in your cat’s gum and may cause discomfort for your cat.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY CAT IS CHOKING?
In the event that your cat begins to choke on a piece of popcorn, it is important to begin facilitating a procedure to remove the lodged piece of popcorn. If there are multiple people around you can have one call the vet, however, if you are alone it is important that you begin helping immediately as choking can be fatal.
Note: your cat may begin to freak out when you try to help them as they may be scared. It may be a good idea to talk to your cat while you try to help as your voice may help calm them down.
Begin by extending your cat’s head and neck. If possible push on the sides of your cat’s mouth gently to help open their mouth. If you can see the popcorn and it is easy to safely remove it begin doing so.
If the popcorn is not able to be safely removed with your fingers begin performing the feline version of the Heimlich maneuver. You can do such by playing your hands on your cat’s waistline, which is under their ribs. Do this 5 times quickly in order to aide the expulsion of the popcorn.
Although popcorn is considered non-toxic and safe for cats to eat, I personally do not recommend it.
Although I’m a fan of feeding your cat snacks or treats every so often, I truthfully recommend something that contains 100% meat or is something catered towards their carnivore diet.
There are too many complications with feeding your cat popcorn, especially if you have a cat who likes to steal your food when you’re not looking. This heightens the risk of your cat choking and even overeating this tasty treat.
So pet parents, I’m curious, how many of your cats are interested in popcorn? Do you have any favourite alternatives to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!