Can Cats Eat Caramel Popcorn?

Can cats eat caramel popcorn?

One of my favorite snacks is Chicago-style popcorn with cheese and caramel popcorn (good cheese, not weird plastic cheese…) I don’t get it often, but I enjoy it when I do.

So far, the cats have never cared about my caramel (or cheese) popcorn, but my cats are also not the types to go after human food much anyway (unless it’s meat, then all bets are off).

Other people have cats who demand a sampling of everything their human eats and some will even sneak it! If this sounds like your cat and you enjoy caramel popcorn, you are probably wondering: can cats eat caramel popcorn?

Short answer: while caramel popcorn isn’t really toxic to cats (unless it’s made with artificial sweeteners), it’s definitely not good for them either and can be a choking hazard. Stick to eating caramel popcorn on your own.

Do Cats Like Caramel Popcorn?

Fortunately, most cats probably won’t care one bit for caramel popcorn. Cats cannot taste sweet food and that’s all caramel popcorn is! The only thing they may be attracted to is the texture, particularly if it’s nice and crunchy.

Some cats may also want to eat it simply because they see you eating it, not because they actually care. The popcorn itself is not going to tend to attract cats either as corn isn’t really a natural part of their diet.

I have owned many cats in my life and not a single one has cared one bit for my caramel popcorn (though once in a while, they lick the cheese ones if given the chance).

Do Cats Hate Caramel Popcorn?

It’s doubtful that cats will hate caramel popcorn – they just won’t care about it. Again, there’s nothing in this snack to attract cats, except perhaps the texture, so it wouldn’t really occur to them to go after it beyond a cursory lick or two. But it also won’t deter them from getting into things like citrus does, so it’s safe to say that cats don’t hate it so much as they are indifferent to it.

Can Eating Caramel Popcorn Kill My Cat?

The caramel popcorn itself is not toxic to cats unless it’s made with the artificial sweeter xylitol. Xylitol causes liver toxicity in cats, and it only takes half a gram per kg of body weight in cats to cause serious problems. Xylitol causes liver damage with symptoms such as:

  • Vomiting immediately after eating
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Trouble walking
  • Seizures and collapse
  • Trouble clotting and hemorrhaging
  • Hypoglycemia shortly after ingestion

If a cat eats xylitol, they need to go to the vet right away to avoid liver failure and death.

Barring xylitol, caramel popcorn is dangerous for reasons that have little to do with its ingredients. There is the short-term danger of choking and the long-term danger of weight gain and diabetes.

Much like young children shouldn’t eat popcorn due to the choking risk, cats should also not eat popcorn. They sometimes have a hard time chewing it enough to swallow safely and pieces of popcorn can get stuck in a cat’s mouth (causing discomfort) and esophagus, causing choking. Caramel popcorn can increase the risk of this because it’s sticky or harder to chew.

In the long term, caramel popcorn causes problems because it’s high in sugar and carbohydrates. Cats cannot actually manage sugar and they only need a small number of carbs in their diet (which is found in their regular cat food).

Too much sugar and carbs can easily cause a cat to gain weight and wreck their blood sugar, leading to diabetes. Diabetes in cats causes hair loss, higher rate of urinary tract infections, and if left untreated, is ultimately fatal. It’s a lifelong disease that has to be managed with diet and often with insulin shots.

Even if a cat doesn’t get diabetes, the weight gain can cause them issues, including:

  • Lack of energy
  • Arthritis and muscle pain
  • Trouble with their heart and joints

Finally, the caramel itself, if it’s too thickly coated and let’s be serious, that’s the best popcorn pieces, can cause cavities and tooth decay in cats if they eat it too often, and even internal blockage which causes vomiting, lethargy, bloating, and constipation and often requires a trip to the vet to remove.

So, all in all, caramel popcorn may not be toxic, but it’s also not something cats should be eating for a variety of reasons. There are far better snacks out there for cats, including cat treats, but also cooked plain meat or a little bit of a boiled vegetable.

How Much Caramel Popcorn Can I Feed My Cat?

None. Cats shouldn’t have caramel popcorn at all, not even if you make it from home. The popcorn itself has no nutritional benefit for cats (and can be a choking hazard) and the caramel is too high in sugar to be healthy.

Popcorn also tends to contain butter (and most cats are lactose intolerant) and a bit of salt (which cats don’t need to eat much of either). Store-bought caramel popcorn runs the risk of having artificial sweeteners in it which can be fatally toxic to cats.

Can Cats Eat Plain Caramel?

So, cats shouldn’t eat caramel popcorn, but can they eat plain caramel?

If you’re making homemade caramel and your cat steals a taste, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Plain, homemade caramel (or caramel where you know that there are no artificial sweeteners) is not toxic and as long as it was only a little bit, cats can swallow it fine.

You should try to brush your cat’s teeth afterward to prevent tooth decay, but otherwise, the worst that will probably happen is a bit of a stomachache and some temporary discomfort.

I wouldn’t encourage a cat to eat caramel, but if they steal a lick, I probably wouldn’t worry about it either. Vow to keep a better eye on your cooking and leave it at that.


Caramel popcorn may be a great snack for humans, but it isn’t much good for cats. The popcorn has no nutritional value and can be a choking hazard while the caramel has too much sugar in it, can be a choking or dental hazard, and if it contains artificial sweeteners, can make a cat very sick or even die.

All in all, this is one snack that you should keep to yourself. Even plain caramel has the problem of being too sticky and not really tasting of much to cats since they cannot taste sweet foods anyway.

On movie nights, make sure your cat has their own treats.

Does your cat try to go for caramel popcorn?