Why Do Cats Eat Grass? What Does It Mean
If you have a cat who you allow to roam outdoors, you will probably have noticed that the enjoy chomping on some grass from time to time. And there is no doubt that this seems like strange behavior if you have never seen it before. In fact, it is something that many cat owners notice, but never really think about what it means and why felines do it in the first place. Well, in this blog post, we are going to change all that with a detailed look at why cats eat grass and what it means.
What makes the behavior seem especially strange is that cats often throw up after they have done it, which can seem a little worrying. But the first thing to mention is that it is not something that you should get overly concerned about. There is no evidence that eating grass is going to harm your furry friend – and there is actually some research that shows it could be beneficial. You only need to get seriously concerned if your cat is eating grass all the time or the grass that they have consumed has been treated with some sort of pesticide or fertilizer.
So, let’s get started in our look at why cats eat grass. But first, here is some more info on your cat’s diet, helping you to understand what they eat on a regular basis.
Cat Diet Information
Cats are creatures that are known as ‘obligate carnivores’, which means that they require a steady meat diet to survive and thrive. They don’t need fruit and vegetables with their regular meals, and their bodies do not even possess the proper enzymes to adequately digest them anyway. This is why choosing the right cat food that contains everything they need is such an important task as a cat owner. Most cats have some sort of wet food in their diet, which helps them to get the moisture that they require on a regular basis. Of course, there are some kitties that subsist on a dry food diet as well, but it is especially important that you leave plenty of fresh water down for them to enjoy.
With this in mind, it may seem strange that your cat wants to eat grass, but there are actually some good reasons why they exhibit behavior. And this is especially true if you have a naughty kitty who catches birds and rodents from time to time.
Reasons Cats Eat Grass
- Relieving an Upset Stomach
The most common reason why your cat eats grass is to relieve the stomach upset that they are suffering from. Cats regurgitate after they eat grass because they do not have the necessary enzymes to break it down. In fact, your cat is trying to make themselves sick after they eat grass to clear out their stomach. All sorts could be causing the irritation including bones, feathers, and fur. Rather than leaving it in their stomach, thereby irritating their digestive tract and potentially causing a more serious illness, your cat has the natural instinct to clear it out.
Once your cat has removed all the offending material from their stomach, it is likely that they feel a great sense of relief. If your cat is a natural hunter who catches birds and rodents, they will eat both the edible and the inedible parts, which is why it is so important that they clear out their stomach.
- Taking in Essential Nutrients
Another reason why your cat may be eating grass is to take in the nutrients which it contains. Grass juices contain folic acid, which is one of the essential vitamins involved in some of your cat’s bodily functions including aiding digestion and supporting cell growth. Kittens get it from their mother’s milk, but when cats are grown up, they no longer get a sufficient quantity. In fact, young cats can develop anaemia if they don’t get enough of it. Plus, it helps in the production of haemoglobin, which is the protein responsible for moving oxygen into the blood.
Most people don’t naturally associate cats as a grass-eating creature, so it can be strange to think that they are receiving some sort of benefit from their behavior – but it’s true!
- Natural Laxative Benefits
Perhaps your cat is eating grass for the natural laxative benefits which it provides. In fact, eating grass can help to regulate the bowel movements of your kitty. Since your cat spends so much of their time self-grooming, they will inevitably swallow some fur, which is sometimes coughed up as a hairball, but other times ends up clogging up their digestive tract. It is the broad grasses which seem to have the laxative effect, while narrow grass has been shown to help settle a bad stomach. A little bit of grass may help to clear out your cat’s system and prevent further serious issues in the future.
- Anxiety Relief
A less common reason why your furry friend may be eating grass is that they are suffering from anxiety. They could be stress or emotional eating to satisfy an oral fixation. If you have ever found yourself running to the fridge after a particularly stressful day at work, you will be able to understand where they are coming from! As well as eating grass, there are other indicators which may point to your cat being overly stressed. A couple of these included excessive grooming and meowing all the time without much of an explanation. Cats are creatures of habit and can often display anxious behavior when they experience a change of situation. Even small differences to their living situation can make all the difference. If you need help trying to relieve your cat’s anxiety, you may need to contact a pet behavior specialist for some support.
Is it Safe for Cats to Eat Grass?
As a responsible cat owner, you will want to do your best to understand some of their main behaviors, thereby helping to ensure their safety. Cats will generally self-regulate the amount of grass that they consume, so you don’t necessarily need to worry in this regard. If they do not throw it back up again, it will pass through their system as a hairball or stool. There have been reports of the grass getting stuck at the back of the nose, causing sneezing fits. If this does occur, you may need to contact the vet to have it professionally removed.
But if your grass is treated with fertilizers or pesticides, you should keep your cat clear of it. If you have an indoor cat, you could even consider growing some grass inside your house for them to consume. Also, now is a good opportunity to make sure that all your houseplants are non-toxic. Ingestion of toxic vegetation can produce a range of different results. It could be something entirely mild and non-threatening, or it could cause a serious health issue – or even death. It is worth pointing out that some toxic flowers such as lilies are very commonly found in popular flower bouquets, so if you have a cat at home, it is worth being especially careful.
Eating grass is a behavior which cats tend to exhibit from time to time, so if they start to eat a large amount of it or want it every day, now is the time to contact your vet to make sure that there aren’t any more serious issues occurring.
Growing Your Own Grass at Home
As we mentioned earlier on, if you have a cat who particularly enjoys eating grass (not excessively), you may want to provide them with their own patch to munch on. This is also a great solution if you have an indoor kitty who does not have the same privileges at their outdoor cousins. If you take a trip to your local pet store, you should find some feline greens and herbs. These will either come as seeds or in pre-sprouted form. Generally, this is preferred to regular grass and you can be certain that it has not been treated with any potentially dangerous chemicals.
While we are on the subject of plants that you can grow for your cat, another great option is some fresh catnip, which many kitties go crazy over. When you grow your own plants for your feline friend, you can be 100% certain where it is coming from, which helps to ensure their safety.
So, from reading this blog post, you hopefully have a better understanding of the possible reasons why your cat is eating grass. Generally, this is instinctive behavior and something which proves to be beneficial to them, whether this is through clearing out their digestive tract, getting some essential nutrients, or having a laxative effect. Usually, this is something that you don’t have to worry about unless your cat is doing it to excess. Take your cat for a check-up if you feel worried. The solution may well be something as simple as a shift in diet.
- Why Do Cats Eat Grass? – PetMD
- Why Do Cats Eat Grass? – Animal Wised
- Why Do Cats Eat Grass? All About Cats Eating Grass – Catster