I love movie nights at home. There’s nothing quite like kicking back after a long week in your comfy lazy boy and watching a movie that you enjoy.
There are two other factors that make my movie night more enjoyable.
Firstly, I like watching with my cat and dog around me. And secondly, I need my bowl of white cheddar popcorn as my snack.
Yes, I know that it isn’t a popular flavor but I’m a self-proclaimed cheese lover and so is my cat. He gets extra affectionate with me when he knows I’m eating our favorite snack.
But is it ok for cats to eat white cheddar popcorn?
Popcorn by itself isn’t toxic for cats. Your cat will be fine even if it consumes a few pieces. The main concern here is with flavored popcorn like white cheddar popcorn which can contain artificial flavorings and added ingredients that can be toxic to cats.
In this article, we will be looking at the nutritional value of popcorn and if white cheddar flavoring is safe for your feline friend.
What Exactly Is Popcorn?
We all know what popcorn is but do we actually know what it is and how it’s made?
Popcorn is made from maize or simply put, corn. I doubt anyone calls it ‘popmaize’.
It is considered to be one of the most popular snacks around the world and has existed for thousands of years.
The majority of popcorn sold comes from the Midwest of the United States which is also known as the corn belt.
The corn kernels are harvested, cleaned, dried and heated till it pops to become fresh popcorn.
Most of us associate popcorn with being unhealthy but that’s because of all the added flavoring, sugar, salt, butter, etc.
Plain microwave popcorn by itself is rather healthy and contains certain vitamins and minerals.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown for 100g of popcorn:
Calories: 375 g
Fat: 4.3 g
Sodium: 7 g
Carbohydrates: 74 g
Protein: 11 g
The calories can add up quickly if you were to eat a huge amount due to the high carb content. But eating popcorn that’s plain is fine as an occasional snack.
Can Cats Have White Cheddar Cheese?
Before I give my cat anything outside of its natural diet like human food, I will make sure to understand what goes into the making of the particular product.
Firstly, let us take a look at the main ingredient which is corn that’s used to make popcorn.
Corn is 100% grain which makes it a source of carbohydrates from plant matter.
Even though our cats have been domesticated for centuries, not much has changed with regard to your cat’s diet.
Cats are first and foremost obligate carnivores which means that in order to survive, they need to eat animal meat.
Their diet should compromise largely from animal protein followed by some animal fats. Although cats can chew on sage on grass, it isn’t something they would eat on a regular basis.
So can cats eat popcorn?
Feeding popcorn to your cat should only be an occasional treat unless your feline friend has a very bad grain allergy then I would strongly advise against it.
Secondly, we need to look at the added ingredients that are used to make white cheddar popcorn.
- Vegetable oil
- Cheddar cheese
The presence of cheddar cheese in the popcorn can be a problem for a lot of cats as they are lactose intolerant.
Once a kitten is weaned off its mother’s milk, its body stops producing the enzymes need to break down lactose.
Feeding your cat dairy products can upset its tummy and give your cat bad diarrhea and in some cases, vomiting. My cat goes nuts when he smells me eating parmesan cheese and will not stop whining until he gets a few bites.
I got to watch my plate of cheese like a hawk to make sure he doesn’t try and steal more.
High In Salt
Salt is a nutrient that many living things need in order to survive.
In mammals like cats and humans, salt helps with hydration and the proper functioning of muscles and nerve impulses.
The problem arises when your cat consumes too much salt in its diet.
On average, most cats require about 20-40mg of salt per day. That is actually a very small amount when compared to humans which is 2300mg daily.
A serving size of white cheddar popcorn can contain more than 240mg of salt.
That’s almost 10x more than what your cat needs.
Allowing your cat to ingest this much salt can lead to salt poisoning which is really bad.
Symptoms of sodium toxicity include:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased heart rate
Immediate medical treatment is required to help flush out the excess sodium in the cat’s blood and stabilize its vitals.
Too Much Fat
There are a couple of ingredients in white cheddar popcorn that are high in fat such as vegetable oil and cheddar cheese.
It isn’t too good for your cat to have a diet that is high in fats which can lead to health issues such as:
- Feline obesity
- High blood pressure
More than 33% of cats in America are obese due to having a bad diet and consuming too much unhealthy human foods.
If you are feeding your cat good cat food such as canned food or raw meat, it is already getting all the fat that it needs.
Is Popcorn Bad For Cats?
Another important fact that you need to know is that cats don’t possess the necessary enzyme to digest and break down carbs.
Too much carbs in your cat’s diet can put a lot of stress on its digestive system. This can lead to issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, lethargy and loss of appetite.
Furthermore, there is a risk of popcorn becoming a choking hazard for your cat especially if it’s a kitten. A large enough popcorn can get lodged in its throat and cause it to choke.
Why Do Cats Like White Cheddar Popcorn?
It can be difficult to put a finger on the exact reason why your cat likes white cheddar popcorn.
The way to your cat’s stomach is through its nose and boy, do cats have a powerful sense of smell.
Their noses can detect odors that we can’t smell and break them down into individual components.
Some cats will keep their mouths open after smelling something interesting to let their brain process the scent. It’s called the flehmen response and it’s quite a funny sight to see.
Many cats are also drawn to dairy products such as cheese due to their high-fat content. In the wild, animals do eat as much fat as possible to keep them full for a longer period of time.
Are There Healthier Alternatives For My Cat?
There’s no harm in feeding cats popcorn as an occasional treat if they enjoy eating it. The one thing that you need to remember is to keep the popcorn as natural as possible.
That means no such thing as salted or caramel popcorn for your cat.
Get a bag of plain air-popped popcorn without any added seasoning or artificial flavoring.
If you really want to control what goes into your cat’s popcorn, you can make your own homemade popcorn if you are up for it.
There’s only one specific type of corn kernel that can pop and that is the Zea Mays Everta.
Just place the corn kernels in a pop, cover it and place it on the stove.
Once they stop popping, the popcorn is ready to be eaten.