Why Does My Cat Eat Grass? (Eat Your Greens)


Updated: July 15, 2023

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One reason is that grass can help cats eliminate hairballs from their digestive system. When cats groom themselves, they ingest fur, and this can accumulate in their stomachs, leading to the formation of hairballs. Eating grass acts as a natural laxative, aiding in the regurgitation or passage of hairballs, helping to keep their digestive tract clear.

Additionally, some experts believe that cats eat grass to supplement their diet with certain nutrients. Grass contains folic acid, which is beneficial for feline health. By instinctively consuming grass, cats may be seeking these essential nutrients that may be lacking in their regular diet.

Moreover, chewing on grass may provide cats with a form of dental care. The abrasive texture of grass helps remove plaque and debris from their teeth, promoting oral hygiene.

While occasional grass consumption is generally harmless for cats, it’s important to ensure that the grass they have access to is free from pesticides or harmful chemicals. Also, be cautious if your cat excessively eats grass or displays signs of discomfort or vomiting afterward, as this could indicate an underlying health issue that requires veterinary attention.

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Cats, as obligate carnivores, primarily require a meat-based diet for their optimal health. Their digestive systems lack the necessary enzymes to efficiently process vegetation. However, it is not uncommon for cats to eat grass. While providing a nutritionally balanced cat food is crucial, understanding why cats eat grass can shed light on this behavior.

One reason cats may indulge in grass consumption is to aid in the removal of non-digestible materials, such as fur, from their digestive system. Grass can act as a natural fiber source, assisting in the passage of these materials and potentially preventing issues like hairballs.

Additionally, grass can provide some nutrients that cats may benefit from, such as folic acid. While their primary nutritional needs are met through meat-based diets, the consumption of grass may offer supplemental nutrients that could be beneficial.

Interestingly, chewing on grass or plants can also have a stress-relieving effect on cats. It may serve as a natural behavior that helps them cope with anxiety or other emotional challenges.

While it is important to ensure the grass is safe, free from pesticides or harmful chemicals, occasional grass consumption is generally considered harmless. However, if your cat excessively eats grass, experiences digestive issues, or shows signs of distress, consulting a veterinarian is advisable to rule out any underlying health concerns.

Three Reasons Why Cats Eat Grass

Cats Need the Nutrients Found in Grass

Cats may eat grass because it contains folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, which is a crucial nutrient for their health. Folic acid plays a role in oxygenating the blood and promoting healthy growth, particularly in young cats. Although most commercial cat foods and mother cat’s milk contain folic acid, some cats may still lack an adequate amount in their diet.

Insufficient folic acid levels can lead to anemia, a serious blood condition that can be life-threatening. Over time, this deficiency can disrupt various bodily functions, causing them to malfunction or cease altogether, with unpredictable timelines and outcomes.

When a cat lacks folic acid, their instinct drives them to search for foods containing it. Grass, being widely available and easily accessible, often becomes their preferred choice.

If you suspect your cat is eating grass due to a folic acid deficiency, consulting a veterinarian and conducting a vitamin level check may be wise. Folic acid supplements are readily available and can be recommended by the vet, or they may suggest allowing your cat to continue consuming grass as a natural source of folic acid.

Remember, while grass consumption is generally safe, it’s important to ensure the grass is free from harmful chemicals, and any persistent or abnormal behavior should be assessed by a veterinary professional to rule out underlying health issues.

Grass Acts as a Feline Laxative

There are indeed several potential reasons why a cat may eat grass. One of these reasons is to alleviate digestive issues caused by ingesting something unusual, such as a foreign object or excess hair. If a cat is constipated or has a hairball that is slowly passing through their system, they may turn to grass as a natural remedy.

In some cases, cats may also consume grass to address internal parasite infections. While it’s true that modern domestic cats are generally protected from such infections, their evolutionary history suggests that grass consumption helped them expel parasites in the past.

The fiber content in grass can stimulate digestive activity, aiding in the movement of material through the gastrointestinal tract. By consuming grass, cats may instinctively attempt to speed up the digestion process and facilitate the elimination of unwanted substances.

However, it’s important to note that while grass can provide temporary relief or help with mild digestive issues, it is not a substitute for proper veterinary care. If your cat is experiencing persistent or severe digestive problems, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment.

Grass Provides Relief by Inducing Vomiting

If you’ve ever witnessed your cat consuming grass and then promptly regurgitating it along with their recent meal, it was likely a deliberate act. Cats have a remarkable instinctual knowledge that ingesting grass will induce vomiting, and they do so purposefully.

When a cat ingests an indigestible substance, it can lead to significant discomfort and even pain. Rather than enduring the discomfort or waiting for the substance to pass through their system, cats may opt for a shortcut by expelling it through regurgitation, essentially reversing the entry route.

This behavior serves as a self-protective mechanism for cats to eliminate potentially harmful or irritating substances from their stomachs quickly. By triggering vomiting through grass consumption, they can expel the offending material and alleviate the discomfort associated with its presence.

While it’s essential to monitor your cat’s behavior and ensure their well-being, occasional grass-induced regurgitation is generally considered a normal part of their natural behavior. However, if you notice frequent or excessive vomiting, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

The peculiar but effective shortcut cats take to alleviate discomfort is to consume more indigestible material, such as grass. The type of grass ingested plays a role in the outcome, with broad-leaved grass having a laxative effect on cats’ digestive system, while narrow-leaved grass tends to induce vomiting. The reason behind the difficulty of digesting narrow grass blades remains unclear, but their toughness prompts the cat’s body to quickly give up and expel them through vomiting.

In the process of vomiting, cats often bring up a variety of non-digestible substances, including hairballs, feathers, bones, parasites, and spoiled food. It’s important to understand that when your cat vomits after eating grass, it serves a necessary purpose in eliminating undesirable or potentially harmful materials from their stomach.

Instead of becoming upset with your cat for regurgitating, it’s crucial to recognize that this behavior is instinctual and beneficial for their well-being. Grass consumption acts as a natural mechanism for cats to manage their digestive system and remove indigestible items.

While occasional grass-induced vomiting is generally considered normal, it’s still important to monitor your cat’s overall health and behavior. If vomiting becomes frequent, excessive, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, consulting a veterinarian is advisable to ensure there are no underlying health issues.

Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Grass?

In general, your cat’s grass-eating behavior is not a cause for concern. If the grass they consume is free from pesticides, fertilizers, and other harmful chemicals, it poses no harm to them and may even have some health benefits.

However, it is crucial to ensure that your cat does not eat grass that has been treated with chemicals. If your lawn is not entirely organic, you might consider planting a separate tray or area of cat-friendly grasses specifically for your cat to indulge in.

While occasional grass consumption is normal, it’s essential to pay attention to any excessive behavior or accompanying symptoms. If your cat consistently eats large amounts of grass every day or exhibits changes in appetite, weight, or energy levels, it is advisable to seek veterinary attention. These could be signs of an underlying medical issue that needs to be addressed.

Regular visits to the veterinarian, providing a safe and chemical-free environment, and observing your cat’s behavior can help ensure their overall well-being.

Why Do Dogs and Cats Eat Grass? (Video)

Frequently Asked Question

Why does my cat eat grass?

Cats eat grass for various reasons, including instinctual behavior, nutritional supplementation, aiding in digestion, and regurgitating indigestible substances. Grass can serve as a natural remedy for hairballs, provide essential nutrients like folic acid, stimulate digestion, and help eliminate unwanted materials from the stomach.

Is it normal for cats to eat grass?

Yes, it is relatively common for cats to eat grass. Many cats naturally engage in this behavior, and it is generally considered normal as long as the grass is safe and free from harmful chemicals.

Should I be worried if my cat eats grass?

In most cases, there is no need for excessive concern if your cat eats grass. However, it is important to ensure that the grass is not treated with pesticides or other chemicals. Additionally, if your cat excessively consumes grass, exhibits signs of discomfort or persistent vomiting, or experiences other unusual symptoms, consulting a veterinarian is advisable.

Can eating grass be harmful to my cat?

Grass consumption itself is not typically harmful to cats, especially if it is pesticide-free. However, there is a potential risk if the grass is treated with chemicals or if your cat consumes other toxic plants in the process. Monitoring your cat’s environment and ensuring they have access to safe grass is important.

Should I prevent my cat from eating grass?

Unless there are specific concerns regarding the safety of the grass or your cat’s health, it is generally unnecessary to prevent them from eating grass. However, providing alternative cat-friendly grasses or monitoring their grass intake can be helpful in maintaining their well-being.

Can I give my cat grass if I don’t have a yard?

If you don’t have access to a yard, you can consider growing cat-friendly grass indoors. There are special grass kits available for purchase that allow you to grow grass specifically for your cat’s consumption.

Can I give my cat grass from outside?

You can allow your cat to consume grass from outside as long as you ensure it is free from chemicals and pesticides. However, keep in mind that outdoor grass may come with a higher risk of exposure to toxins, parasites, or other potential hazards.

Is there anything else I should know about cats eating grass?

While grass consumption is generally considered a normal behavior, it is essential to pay attention to your cat’s overall health and behavior. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and a safe environment are crucial in maintaining their well-being. If you have concerns or notice any significant changes in your cat’s behavior, it is best to consult with a veterinarian for proper guidance.

Conclusion

Cats eating grass is a natural behavior with various potential reasons behind it. From aiding in digestion and hairball elimination to seeking nutritional supplementation, cats instinctively consume grass for their own well-being. As long as the grass is free from harmful chemicals and pesticides, it is generally safe for cats to eat.

While occasional grass consumption is normal and generally not a cause for concern, it is important to be vigilant and monitor your cat’s behavior. Excessive grass consumption, persistent vomiting, or accompanying symptoms should prompt a visit to the veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Creating a safe environment, providing appropriate nutrition, and seeking veterinary care when needed are key factors in ensuring your cat’s overall health and happiness. So, if you find your feline friend munching on some greens, understanding their reasons and taking necessary precautions will help you better care for them.


Michael R

Michael R

I'm a publisher and editor at Cat Guide 101. I imagine that since you’re here, you likely own a cat — or two! — so helping you better understand them is my aim. I'd like to invite you to check out our about page to learn more about the Cat Guide 101 story.

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