Can Cats Eat Popcorn?

Can cats eat popcorn?

Cats can eat a small amount of popcorn, but with care. As a rule, treats should consist of no more than 10% of a cat’s diet.

Corn itself is non-toxic to cats and is a common ingredient in many cat foods. However, popcorn offers very little in nutrients to the cat and should not replace a complete and balanced cat food.

Can all cats have popcorn?

Not all cats can eat popcorn, this includes:

  • Unweaned kittens
  • Cats on a food trial
  • Cats on a prescription diet to prevent or manage a health condition

How to feed a cat popcorn

Only feed freshly popped popcorn with no toppings or flavourings such as chocolate, garlic which are toxic, or caramel, sugar or salt. Avoid microwave popcorn which contains artificial flavours, which gives popcorn its buttery flavour.

Air-popped popcorn is healthier than popcorn popped in butter, but a small amount of butter popcorn won’t harm the cat. Just don’t go overboard as too much butter can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, pancreatitis and contains excessive calories. The same goes for salted popcorn, two or three pieces won’t harm the cat (unless he or she has underlying health issues), but unsalted is preferable.


  • Keep corn kernels away from the cat as these can potentially cause choking.
  • Allow popcorn to cool before feeding it to the cat.
  • Limit the amount to two or three pieces, there is little in the way of nutrients in popcorn.
  • Supervise cats while they eat popcorn as there is a small risk of choking.

If the cat does choke, carefully open the mouth and try to dislodge the object with a finger sweep, being careful to not push the corn further down. If this is not possible and the cat is struggling to breathe, the Heimlich maneuver will be necessary. Hold the cat in an upright position, make a fist with one hand and place in the indentation just below the ribs, with the other hand over the fist and apply four forceful thrusts with your fist inward towards your belly, while also applying an upwards pressure at the same time.

Air-popped popcorn

  • Place a nonstick pan with the lid onto a stove
  • Bring the pan to a medium-high heat
  • Add a single layer of popcorn kernels to the pan and cover
  • Cook until the kernels begin to pop, reduce the heat to medium, shaking the pan regularly to prevent the corn from burning
  • Remove the pan from the heat once most of the kernels have popped

Feature image: PARK JAEHOON, Shutterstock