Most pets will try not to miss the chance of nibbling on some human food they can find around the house. Cats especially are inquisitive animals enticed by novelty and don’t know what foods are good for them and which are not. The basics of your cat’s diet rely on you.
It is okay for cats to eat popcorn once in a while, and it is only considered safe under certain circumstances. You should never replace good-quality cat food with popcorn. Even though popcorn is not toxic for your cat, in excess, it can hurt its health.
To understand why cats can have popcorn or not, we will start by explaining what should be included in a cat’s diet to maintain optimal health.
What Should A Cat’s Diet Look Like?
As stated by Georgia Veterinary Associates, the ideal cat food should contain a common starting point. First, the food should have a favorable effect on your cat’s internal organs. It means that it should not cause any gastrointestinal difficulties or organ damage upon ingesting the food.
Second, appropriate cat food should encourage lean weight, strong joints, and healthy gums and teeth. Veterinarians recommend avoiding too many greasy foods. Instead, replace fats with healthy proteins and minerals, such as calcium.
Ultimately, healthy cat food should assist your cat’s skin or coat shine. That is even more noticeable for the hairless cat breeds.
What Elements Are Necessary For An Ideal Cat Food?
The essential component of cat food is water. It is responsible for driving almost every physiological task in your cat’s body. From breathing to digesting, evacuating, and all types of cellular functions.
Cats typically lose water through sweating, urination, and lactation for breastfeeding cats. For this matter, you should make sure your cat’s food has enough water content. Your cat should also always have drinking water available.
Another important cat food element is protein, which reinforces your feline’s bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Proteins are also known to ease the functions of several hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. Consider meat, fish, and poultry to be the top three sources of protein.
Fatty acids or simply, fats, are also essential for your cat’s healthy diet, offering a sufficient amount of the energy they need.
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Suppose your cat lacks fat in its body. In that case, it may start to show symptoms like dry hair, growth delays, irritability, and an overall compromised immune system.
Fatty acids, unlike protein, are only needed in minimum doses for cats to get enough of it. Usually, their daily consumption of fatty acids should be between 20-40%.
Vitamins are other vital elements designed to boost your cat’s immunity. Vitamins’ primary function is to reduce cell damage caused by free radicals.
Finally, the last ingredient found in cat food is minerals. These are phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, sodium, iodine, and copper.
Combining these minerals regulates enzymatic functions, acid-base balance, and benefits the shaping of tissue structures.
Now that we know what are essential nutrients a cat needs to thrive, what can we say about popcorn?
Health Benefits Of Popcorn
Besides its enjoyable smell, you may have heard that popcorn has some health benefits for humans. Interestingly, your cat may also benefit from popcorn’s nutritional goodness.
- Good for weight loss: even though there is insufficient proof of this, popcorn is low in fat if you compare it to other foods prepared in the same way.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics spokesperson, 3 cups of air-popped popcorn typically contain 110 calories and just one gram of fat.
It remains a questioned fact because there aren’t any straightforward suggestions on the suggested amount of oil.
- Loaded with critical vitamins and minerals: a healthy cat diet requires many of these vitamins and minerals. The most relevant is iron. This mineral carries out the functions of forming the cat’s hemoglobin, facilitating the ease of oxygen transit around the cat’s system.
Besides iron, popcorn contains high amounts of other minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, and zinc. All of these play critical roles in your cat’s general wellbeing.
Besides all the minerals found in popcorn, you can find a series of vitamins. Popcorn offers many vitamins such as B3, B2, B5, folate, and B1. These vitamins are related to disease prevention.
Reduction of heart disease and cancer risks has been associated with popcorn consumption, as multiple research studies have published it.
- Improves digestion: this great benefit is one your cat will enjoy right after eating popcorn. As it is a whole grain, popcorn has the endosperm along with the germ and the bran.
The bran is essential in the sense that it contains the amount of fiber that boosts bowel movements.
Other vitamins and minerals are also components found in bran, such as B complex vitamins, vitamin E, and a series of other minerals.
Just a tiny popcorn treat will encourage peristaltic motion in your cat’s intestinal muscles while also improving the release of digestive juices.
In consequence, your cat’s bowel movements will be very regular. It is excellent because, in the long term, it will help your cat get past common digestive issues such as constipation.
Is It Okay For A Cat To Eat Popcorn?
It is acceptable for a cat to eat popcorn in small amounts and only occasionally; it won’t cause any harm if kept in moderation. However, you should be aware that it isn’t safe for it to eat if your cat is very young or very old. Kittens and older cats can easily choke.
Yes, you can enhance your pet’s daily kibble with a few air-popped popcorns, always keeping in mind that too much corn in a cat’s diet can result in skin conditions, a dry coat, and cracking skin.
Your cat may also increase a couple of pounds as corn is a carb converted to sugar in the body.
Is Popcorn Toxic To Cats?
Any human food that your cat in excess consumes can be potentially risky for their health. This fact applies to popcorn as well. Essentially, all your cat’s nutritional requirements are within its store-bought cat food. As mentioned before, you should reserve popcorn for only an occasional snack.
If your cat loves popcorn and sneaks up a significant amount of it, you should be worried. The first and most evident inconvenience of feeding popcorn to your cat is that it presents a choking risk.
Popcorn is even hard for most of us to chew, and many small particles disintegrate in our mouths. It can be much more hazardous for small cats since they usually end up gulping down their food in one piece.
Now, which is better for cats; popped or unpopped popcorn? As advised by experts, you should avoid feeding unpopped popcorn to your cats. Air-popped popcorn is the best option for your cat.
Keep in mind that it is okay to offer a small amount of popcorn to your feline friend, basically to benefit from its rich fiber content.
Suppose your cat eats more popcorn than its stomach can digest. In that case, unwanted symptoms can arise, and the effects can take a negative turn.
Suppose you are trying to help your cat have more regular bowel movements. In that case, you could also be encouraging it to have constipation.
Popcorn is a form of starch-based grain; cats don’t have the proper enzymes in their saliva to digest this form of carbohydrates.
It depends on how popcorn is prepared to determine if it has worrying amounts of fat, sodium, and other artificial additives. These can all cause severe gastrointestinal difficulties for your cat.
It is why you should be extremely careful about the variety of popcorn that you allow your cat to eat. You should avoid ingredients like onions, chili, caramel, and butter by all means.
Why Does My Cat Love Popcorn?
Because of its delicious smell, warmth, and crunchy texture, popcorn is one of the many treats that cats are attracted to. The fact that you’re eating it makes your pet want to try it even more.
Plain popcorn without any added flavoring is the safest choice to give a cat who loves popcorn.
Some cats even enjoy playing with the popped kernels on the floor before they eat them.
Don’t get too enthusiastic, though, and only feed it to them in small amounts on occasions.
Now that we have covered popcorn and cats, you understand what is essential in cat food. We learned the benefits popcorn could bring to your furry friend and that it is okay for cats to eat air-popped popcorn. Just keep them away from those, including any flavoring toppings, seasoning with spices, and condiments.
Plain and fully popped are the best choice, and of course, only allowing it occasionally. Your cat’s treat should always be safe and fun.
In general, whichever treat you’re giving your cat, always do it in moderation and check with your veterinarian if you’re not sure about it.