If you are wondering if your cat can eat popcorn, then you have come to the right place. Cats oftentimes cannot resist the smell of their owner’s popcorn and they will steal some for themselves. If you have noticed that your cat has been eating your popcorn, then you may be worrying that it is harmful to your cat.

Cats can eat popcorn without salt or butter. The toppings on popcorn can be unhealthy for cats, which makes pre-made popcorn harmful. Sweet and spicy toppings on popcorn are toxic to cats and should be avoided. Kittens cannot eat popcorn due to their sensitive digestion and dietary needs.

If prepared in the proper way, cats can eat popcorn fairly regularly and will still be just as healthy. If you want to learn more about whether or not cats can eat popcorn, then you will want to continue reading below!

Is Popcorn Unhealthy for Cats?

Many cats steal popcorn from their humans without the owners even noticing it. Once the owners do notice them, however, they may get worried and fear that the popcorn is toxic for their beloved pet.

Thankfully, popcorn is not toxic for cats, and it will not harm them. However, you will not want to feed your cat popcorn regularly. A few kernels here and there are okay but do not feed your cat popcorn otherwise.

Popcorn is not unhealthy for cats. However, the toppings that are put on popcorn are. The toppings are not only unhealthy, but they can also be toxic.

The high amounts of butter and salt can be extremely harmful for cats and consumption should be avoided at all costs.

Microwaved popcorn is unhealthy and toxic for cats. Pre-made popcorn has too many toppings that can harm cats. In addition, do not feed your cat flavored or sweet popcorn.

The sweet and spicy flavorings are arguably the worst things you can put on your popcorn because it is so harmful to your cats. If you are going to give your cat popcorn as a treat, do so with plain popcorn kernels.

Can Kittens Have Popcorn?

Kittens should not eat popcorn. Kittens cannot eat the same things that adult cats can. Kittens have a more particular diet and must eat foods that are high-quality and nutrient-rich.

Kittens are quickly growing and developing, which is why they cannot eat the same foods that adult cats do.

One of the foods that kittens cannot eat is popcorn. While popcorn is not horrible for adult cats, it is for kittens. Kittens should eat foods that are specifically made for young cats, rather than trying to experiment with human foods.

Kittens need foods that are high in protein. 30% of their diet comes from protein, and popcorn does not have a large amount per serving. Popcorn does not coincide with their nutritional needs and therefore cannot be eaten.

A kitten’s calories should come largely from amino acids and protein. Popcorn does not fit in with these standards.

While even certain cat foods cannot be eaten, human foods definitely should not be eaten. Kittens are finicky about what they can eat, due to their specific nutritional needs. Kittens must eat strictly kitten food, otherwise, they may not be able to digest it.

While popcorn is not toxic for kittens, it is still unhealthy for them. Kittens cannot digest popcorn as adult cats can, and therefore popcorn should be avoided for kittens.

What is Popcorn’s Benefits for You and Your Cat?

Most individuals do not consider popcorn to be a healthy snack. This is because of the large amount of salt and butter that is typically added.

The sodium and saturated fats that are added to popcorn are astronomical and make individuals regard popcorn as something that should only be eaten under rare circumstances,

Although the toppings that are added to popcorn are not healthy, the popcorn itself does actually have a large amount of nutritional value. There is nothing wrong with having a bowl of popcorn while you watch a movie, and if done properly, the popcorn can actually improve your health.


Popcorn is high in polyphenols. Polyphenols act as antioxidants, and they reverse the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. To reduce your chances of a chronic illness, you will want to make sure polyphenols are a regular part of your diet. They will increase your immune system all the while combatting damaged cells.

Ensure you receive a large amount of these in your diet. They are usually found in fruits and vegetables, as they have a fairly high concentration of them. However, popcorn is an even richer source of polyphenols than your regular fruits and veggies are, as popcorn has nearly twice the amount that fruits have.

The University of Scranton conducted a study and discovered that popcorn contains more polyphenols than fruits and vegetables do. This was a shock to the public, as they did not expect that popcorn could be higher in any nutrient than fresh fruits and vegetables.

The University of Scranton reminded the public, however, that popcorn still does not contain certain vitamins and minerals that are needed in a healthy diet. The purpose of this reminder was to make sure people did not take this study to mean that popcorn could be a replacement for fresh produce!

Within this study, it was discovered that “popcorn was up to 300 mg a serving compared to 114 mg for a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg for all fruits per serving”.

This study was important as it reminded the public that popcorn does not necessarily have to be seen as unhealthy food. Popcorn can provide nutrients that many other foods do not have. As long as other ingredients are not added, popcorn in and of itself is fairly healthy.

Whole Grains

Over the years, grain has lost a lot of supporters. Many popular health fads claim that grains will cause increased health risks. However, this is because many people get refined grains and whole grains confused. Whole grains have numerous benefits, including combatting heart disease.

Today, many individuals do not receive enough whole grains in their daily food plan. This means that they are not receiving an adequate amount of fiber or other nutrients.

To maintain a healthy diet, the USDA suggests having three servings of whole grain per day. However, nearly half of Americans do not make whole grains a regular part of their diet. Because of this, they are not reaping the benefits that whole grains have to offer.

Thankfully, with one serving of popcorn, 70% of the daily recommendation can be fulfilled.

Weight Loss

In addition to the other health benefits of popcorn, it can also be an instrument for losing weight. Losing weight can oftentimes be difficult and many have problems being successful with it. One reason for this is because strict diets cut out all comfort foods, and for many, this means popcorn.

If you are trying to lose weight, then you can still eat popcorn! You of course should not put your regular toppings on it, however, you can still eat popcorn nonetheless. Popcorn is nutrient-dense, meaning it is packed full of nutrients proportional to the number of calories that are in it.

When eating popcorn as a snack, you will realize that you feel full for longer than expected. This is surprising for many as popcorn is so light and airy, and most suspect that you will feel hungry immediately after eating it. However, despite it being low in calories, popcorn will keep you fuller for longer than usual.


Popcorn does have a fair amount of protein. Many do not realize that popcorn has any protein at all, so they are surprised to find that a single serving has three grams.

Overall Health

Popcorn can be beneficial for all of those who eat it in moderation and with the correct ingredients. As long as extra ingredients are not added, popcorn can be very healthy. It can be a special snack for both you and your cat as long as you do not overdo it.

Not only is popcorn light in weight, but they it is also all starch. This means that it does not need to be converted by the body into carbohydrates and fats, something that fattens you up. Moreover, popcorn is also quite low on sugar content. It does not cause blood glucose spikes inside the body like other snacks tend to do and thus they are good for consumption even if you have a problem with diabetes. Popcorn is simply a healthy snack to eat on top of being very tasty.

Popcorn for the People

If a human can receive the following health benefits from popcorn, then your cat clearly can too.

What is the Healthiest Way to Make Popcorn for Cats?

Step One

The first step to making popcorn for your cats is to use plain kernels. You will not want to use pre-made butter popcorn. Buttery popcorn is exactly what you will want to avoid, as it is toxic to cats. Plain kernels, however, do not pose a threat to cats once they eat them.

Step Two

The second step is to air pop it. This is the healthiest method of cooking popcorn as it eliminates excess oil. If you want to feed popcorn to your cats, then you will not want to use oil or butter to cook it. Air popping popcorn does not overpower the nutrients that are naturally in popcorn and maintains the fact that it is a healthy snack.

Below are the nutrition facts for air-popped popcorn, as provided by Healthline. The nutrition facts are coming from a 100 gram, or 3.5 ounce, serving of air-popped popcorn:

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 7% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 12% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 8% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 18% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 36% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 36% of the RDI.
  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI.
  • Zinc: 21% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 13% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 56% of the RDI.

This is coming with a total of 387 calories, 13 grams of protein, 78 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat.

Below are the nutrition facts for movie theater popcorn, as stated by NutritionIX. The nutrition facts are coming from a 100 gram serving of movie theater popcorn:

  • Total fat: 43% of the RDI
  • Saturated fat: 25% of the RDI
  • Sodium: 37% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 7% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 0.2% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 0.5% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 0.7% of the RDI
  • Iron: 15.5% of the RDI

This is coming with a total of 500 calories, nine grams of protein, and over 28 grams of fat.

As you can see, the nutritional value of air-popped popcorn is much higher. All of the nutrients are lost once a high amount of salt and butter are added to movie theater popcorn. This proves that air popping popcorn is a much better option, as it maintains the original nutritional value.

Step Three

The third step is to not do anything else. It can be tempting to add toppings such as sweeteners or even light salt to the popcorn. However, if you are feeding the popcorn to your cat, then you cannot add anything else. You will want to make sure the popcorn will maintain its nutritional value so that way you can feed it to your cat.

Popcorn that is made in the proper way is healthy unless it is eaten in excess. You will not want to feed it to your cat on a regular basis, however, you can give them a few pieces on special occasions. Your cat will enjoy it and you will love seeing your cat so happy. Cats are instantly drawn to the aroma of popcorn and so they will usually be grateful if you decide to feed some to them.

What Are Some Popcorn Substitutes for Cats?

While popcorn is not the best for your cats, there are human foods that cats can eat in plenty. Below is a list of the foods that are typically eaten by humans that cats can also eat:

  • Carrots
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Bananas
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Spinach

Additional Information On Animals Eating Popcorn

Are you curious about what animals can eat popcorn? Click here for an animal overview or click on an animal below to find out specific details:

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