Can Cats Eat Cornstarch? [Benefits/Risks To Know]

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Key Takeaways:

  • Cornstarch is not toxic for cats, but should be given in moderation as it has minimal nutritional value.
  • Overeating cornstarch can cause digestive issues and obesity in cats due to its high starch content.
  • Cornstarch is used in many cat food products like corn gluten meal, ground corn, corn syrup, etc.
  • Dry cat food contains more cornstarch than wet food to help form the kibble shape.
  • Consult a vet before giving cornstarch regularly or in large amounts to cats.

Can Cats Have Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is a very common ingredient used in a variety of food products, both for human and pet consumption. It’s gained popularity as a thickening agent due to its glutinous texture when dissolved in liquid. But is it safe for cats to eat cornstarch?

The answer is yes, cats can eat small amounts of cornstarch safely and without any toxic effects. Cornstarch is not poisonous or toxic to cats. However, it doesn’t provide much nutritional value either. It’s high in carbohydrates and calories, but low in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients essential for cats.

So while cornstarch in moderation may be safe for cats, it’s not recommended to give them this ingredient too frequently or in large quantities. Overconsumption can lead to digestive issues, weight gain, and other health risks in cats. Let’s analyze the benefits and risks of cornstarch for cats in more detail.

What is Cornstarch Exactly?

Cornstarch is a fine, powdery flour made by removing the protein and fiber portions of corn kernels. What remains is the starchy part – amylose and amylopectin. It’s this starchy component that gives cornstarch its thickening properties when mixed with liquids.

Some key facts about cornstarch:

  • Made from the endosperm of corn kernels
  • Contains over 70% starch (the rest is water and trace nutrients)
  • Very high glycemic and calorie density
  • Tasteless, odorless white powder
  • Used to thicken sauces, soups, gravies, etc
  • Also used in baking for binding and dusting

So in effect, cornstarch is almost entirely starch or complex carbs. And since cats have no biological requirement for carbohydrates, cornstarch holds little inherent value for them nutritionally.

Is Cornstarch Safe For Cats?

Given its widespread use in human foods, you may wonder – can cats eat cornstarch safely or is it bad for them? The good news is that cornstarch is not toxic, poisonous, or harmful to cats in itself.

Being a bland, tasteless powder, most cats may not even like the flavor or texture of eating plain cornstarch. As long as served in moderate quantities, it is unlikely to cause any adverse health effects in cats.

However, there are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Allergies – Some cats may be allergic to corn and corn-derived products. An allergy to cornstarch is less common but possible. Look out for itchy skin, ear infections, skin rashes, vomiting, etc.
  • Carb sensitivity – Cats are obligate carnivores with a limited ability to digest carbs. Some cats are more sensitive and prone to digestive upsets.
  • Obesity – Being high in calories and starch, excess cornstarch can lead to obesity if overfed. Obese cats are at higher risk of diabetes, joint problems, heart disease and other complications.
  • Tooth decay – The starch in cornstarch may contribute to plaque build-up and dental diseases when consumed regularly by cats.

So monitor your cat closely for any adverse reactions after feeding cornstarch. Consult a vet if you notice any symptoms of food intolerance.

Benefits Of Cornstarch For Cats

Given its minimal nutritional value for cats, what potential benefits does cornstarch offer? Here are some of the ways cornstarch may be helpful:

Hairball relief – The gritty texture of cornstarch can help move hair and fur through the digestive tract. This provides some relief from hairball symptoms like vomiting and coughing. Always opt for plain, unsweetened cornstarch.

Diarrhea relief – The starchy, absorbent nature of cornstarch helps firm up loose stools. Adding a pinch to the food may help relieve mild diarrhea or soft stools in cats.

Weight gain – For underweight cats who need more calories, cornstarch provides an energy-dense carbohydrate source to help gain weight. But monitor portion sizes to avoid obesity.

Dental health – Some cat food brands add cornstarch to their dental kibble formulations. The starch may help reduce plaque build-up by physically scraping the teeth clean as cats chew.

However, these benefits are anecdotal and not backed by extensive clinical research. As always, consult your veterinarian before using cornstarch as a remedy for any feline health condition.

Is Cornstarch Bad For Cats? Risks To Consider

While moderate amounts of cornstarch may be safe, there are some potential health risks with over-consumption for cats:

Weight gain & obesity – Being highly calorie-dense, excess cornstarch can easily cause cats to gain unwanted body fat and become obese. Obese cats are more prone to diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and other problems.

Nutritional deficiency – Relying too much on cornstarch can displace proteins, vitamins and minerals from a cat’s diet leading to nutritional deficiencies over time.

Dental diseases – The starch may contribute to more plaque, tartar and dental problems which can lead to infections and tooth loss if not managed properly.

Intestinal problems – Since cats lack the enzymes to digest starches, overfeeding cornstarch can cause flatulence, bloating, diarrhea and other digestive upsets.

Blood sugar spikes – High starch foods like cornstarch can spike blood glucose levels abnormally in some cats. This is linked to insulin resistance and higher diabetes risk.

Pancreatitis – A sudden high starch load from cornstarch is suspected to potentially trigger pancreatitis in susceptible cats – which can be very painful and dangerous.

So while an occasional sprinkle over food may be safe, do not make cornstarch a regular part of a cat’s diet in large amounts. Always check with your vet first.

Are Cats Attracted To The Taste Of Cornstarch?

Given its dull, floury taste – cornstarch does not seem very palatable or appealing to most cats at first. But some cats may develop a craving for the taste of cornflour over time.

Kittens also tend to be more playful and experimental with textures. They may sample and ingest cornstarch out of curiosity.

Some key pointers on cats and the taste of cornstarch:

  • Cats likely prefer the flavor of corn kernels over plain cornstarch.
  • They may eat cornbread, cornflakes or other corn-based foods more readily than just dry cornstarch.
  • Some cats are attracted to the texture rather than taste. They may lick or eat small amounts while playing with the powder.
  • Cats with pica (eating non-food items) may ingest cornstarch, dirt or other such substances compulsively. This points to an underlying health problem.
  • Ensure your cat doesn’t have access to eat raw cornstarch dough or batter which can be dangerous.

So monitor your cat’s behavior closely whenever cornstarch is used around the house. Look for signs of attraction or a craving for cornstarch.

Can Cats Have Sweet Corn? Is It Safe For Them?

Sweet corn kernels or nibblets are a popular human food often wondered about – can cats eat sweet corn as a treat? The answer is yes, it is generally safe for cats in moderation.

Sweet corn contains more nutrients compared to plain cornstarch. The kernels supply protein, fiber, vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin, potassium along with some iron, zinc, magnesium and antioxidant carotenoids.

So sweet corn can make an occasional snack or treat for cats. However, avoid giving them corn on the cob as it may be a choking hazard. The cob may also splinter and damage their throat or intestines.

Some key precautions with sweet corn for cats:

  • Remove the cob and feed only the kernels. About 1-2 tsp is sufficient.
  • Look for organic, low salt varieties if giving canned or frozen sweet corn.
  • Avoid corn with heavy seasonings, salt, butter or other oils.
  • Prevent choking risk by chopping kernels into smaller pieces.
  • Limit intake to a few times a week. Too much can cause digestive upset.

Check your cat’s stool after feeding sweet corn. Discontinue use if you notice any signs of intolerance like loose stools or vomiting. Overall, sweet fresh corn in moderation makes an acceptable snack for cats.

Can Cats Eat Creamed Corn?

Creamed corn is basically sweet corn kernels in a milky, creamy sauce or gravy. So can cats eat creamed corn as an occasional treat?

While the corn part is fine, cats should not have the creamy sauce or milk components typically added to creamed corn recipes. Here’s why creamed corn is not ideal for cats:

  • Lactose intolerance – Most cats are unable to digest lactose properly. The cream or milk can cause diarrhea.
  • High-fat content – Creamed corn recipes often have butter, cream or other fattening ingredients. This can lead to pancreatitis and obesity risks in cats.
  • Seasonings & spices – Creamed corn recipes typically include salt, black pepper and various other flavorings that may be unsafe for cats.
  • Potential allergies – Dairy, corn, wheat or other allergies may be triggered by creamed corn.

So it’s best to avoid feeding creamed corn mush to cats. At most, drain away the cream sauce and give a few pieces of just the corn kernels instead. Ultimately, plain fresh or frozen corn kernels are safer and healthier for cats than creamed varieties.

Can Cats Eat Cornmeal?

Cornmeal is coarsely ground dried corn, commonly used to make cornbread and tortillas. So can cats eat cornmeal?

The answer is no – cornmeal is not recommended for cats as it has some notable health risks:

  • Very high in carbohydrates – can cause digestive upset and loose stools.
  • May trigger corn allergies in sensitive cats.
  • Contains little protein, vitamins or minerals to provide nutrition.
  • The coarse, gritty texture can damage the throat and intestines if swallowed directly.
  • Increased choking hazard from dry cornmeal compared to cornstarch.

Instead of cornmeal, the safest way to give corn to cats is a few pieces of fresh sweet corn kernels as an occasional snack. Avoid feeding dry cornmeal or products made from it like cornbread, tortillas, muffins, etc.

Can Cats Eat Popcorn?

Popcorn makes a fun snack for movie nights or parties. But what about sharing some fresh popcorn with cats? Is popcorn safe and healthy for cats to eat?

Unfortunately, popcorn is not recommended as a regular treat for cats. Here are some key reasons:

  • Choking hazard – unpopped kernels can obstruct cats’ narrow esophagus.
  • Salt toxicity – salty popcorn seasonings are unhealthy for cats.
  • Digestive issues – the starch and fiber in popcorn may cause upset stomach, gas or diarrhea in cats. Limit portion sizes.
  • Lack of nutrients – popcorn is mostly carbohydrates with minimal protein, vitamins or minerals for cats.
  • Allergies – both corn and dust from popcorn may irritate allergies in some cats.

So it’s best to avoid feeding popcorn to cats. At most, you can pick out a few freshly popped, low-salt pieces as an occasional snack. But popcorn should never become a regular part of your cat’s diet.

Is Corn Cat Food Good Or Bad For Cats?

Now that we’ve looked at different forms of corn – is corn a good ingredient for cat food? Or should you avoid corn in cat food altogether?

The answer is – corn can be a safe addition to cat food in moderate amounts. But it shouldn’t be the primary ingredient or carbohydrate source. Here are some key considerations with corn-based cat food:


  • Low cost – Corn is an affordable ingredient to make cat food more budget-friendly.
  • Good energy source – The carbohydrates in corn provide an efficient fuel source for cats. Some cats do well on corn-based kibble diets.
  • Helps form kibble – Ground corn or cornmeal is used as a binder and texturizer in dry cat food manufacturing.


  • Low protein – Corn dilutes the protein levels in cat food. Opt for >30% minimum protein cat food.
  • Less meat – High corn content means less actual animal protein and meat.
  • Allergy trigger – Both corn and corn gluten are common food allergens for cats.
  • High carb – Excessive dietary carbohydrates from corn-heavy diets can cause weight gain and diabetes.
  • Little nutrition – Corn itself offers very little nutrition in terms of vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc. for cats.

So aim for cat foods where corn is not the main ingredient. Look for named meat proteins like chicken, fish, lamb etc. as the first ingredients instead. Some amount of corn meal or cornstarch for texturizing is acceptable. But best to avoid corn-exclusive cat food formulas.

Is Ground Corn Safe In Cat Food?

Ground corn is commonly used in many dry cat foods to help create the right texture. It binds ingredients together to form the crunchy kibble pieces that cats enjoy.

But is ground corn safe and healthy for cats? In moderation – yes, ground corn can be a safe addition to cat food. Some key things to note:

  • It provides carbohydrate energy, but minimal protein or other nutrients. Look for meat as first ingredient.
  • Cats don’t require corn or grains, but most tolerate modest amounts without issues.
  • Ground corn acts as a cost-effective texturizer and binder during manufacturing.
  • It should not make up more than 30% of the food ideally. Higher amounts dilute nutrition.
  • Some cats have corn allergies – choose a different protein/carb source if allergies are suspected.

So while ground corn won’t provide complete nutrition for cats, modest amounts are safe in commercial cat food as an affordable carbohydrate source and manufacturing aid. Just ensure the overall formula has sufficient high-quality protein from meat sources as well.

Is Corn Gluten Meal Suitable For Cat Food?

Besides ground corn, another corn derivative you may see in cat food is corn gluten meal. This is the dried residue left over after corn processing to extract corn starch.

Can cats eat corn gluten meal safely? Here are some key aspects to consider:


  • It increases protein percentage in food (60% protein vs 8% in corn).
  • Provides an affordable protein source compared to meat.
  • May help bind ingredients and form the kibble shape.
  • Contains very little sugar or starches compared to ground corn.


  • Plant-based protein less bioavailable than meat protein for cats.
  • May trigger corn allergies in sensitive cats.
  • Possible contamination with mycotoxins during processing and storage.
  • Cat food should contain meat protein as the main ingredient ideally.

So while corn gluten meal does supply additional protein, it is inferior to whole meat protein sources for cats. Look for named meat proteins like chicken, turkey or fish as the first ingredients when choosing cat food. Limited use of corn gluten meal for adding bulk protein is acceptable. But meat should be the primary protein source.

Can Cats Have Corn Syrup?

Corn syrup is a glucose syrup made from cornstarch. The two common types are plain corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This sweetener is used in numerous foods and beverages. But can cats eat corn syrup safely?

The answer is no – corn syrup is not recommended for cats. Here are the key reasons why:

  • Very high sugar content – Plain corn syrup is 100% glucose. HFCS can be 55% fructose. Too much sugar is unhealthy for cats.
  • Nutritionally empty – Contains only calories in the form of simple carbs – no other nutrients that cats require.
  • May attract pests – Ants and roaches may swarm around corn syrup spills accessible to cats.
  • Obesity risk – Being high in sugar and calories can easily lead to unhealthy weight gain in cats.
  • Dental cavities – The sugar content promotes bacteria that erodes tooth enamel.

So it’s best to keep corn syrup well away from cats. Never give corn syrup intended for human use to cats. At most, a pinch of plain corn syrup in cat food to increase palatability is acceptable – but no more than that. Focus on high-protein, low-carb cat food instead for balanced nutrition.

Can Cats Drink Alcohol With Corn?

Some alcoholic beverages like beer contain corn as an ingredient. But can cats drink alcohol, especially corn-based ones like beer?

Absolutely not – alcohol is extremely toxic for cats in any form or amount. According to ASPCA, just a small 2-tablespoon serving of beer can cause problems in an average-sized cat.

Some harmful effects of alcohol for cats include:

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, disorientation
  • Difficulty breathing, abnormal heart rate, seizures
  • Coma, hypothermia and even death with high doses

So keep all alcoholic drinks well out of reach of cats. Corn-based alcohols like beer and bourbon are equally dangerous. Even alcohol rubbing on your hands or face can cause poisoning when ingested by cats grooming you. Seek emergency vet care if your cat accidentally ingests any form of alcohol.

How Much Cornstarch Can Cats Eat Safely?

Based on all the risks and benefits – how much cornstarch can you safely give to cats? Here are some general dosing guidelines:

For adult cats:

  • Up to 1/4 tsp cornstarch mixed into food **

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