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Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

By Kathy Blumenstock, Animal Planet

How often have you seen your cat happily chewing on blades of fresh green grass, and wondered why? You dish up the choicest cat food and offer gourmet treats, yet given the chance, Kitty chows down on the lawn as if she’s a snacking racehorse. But there’s little need to fret over the appeal of the feline salad bar, even when she throws it all up.

Grazing in the Grass

The juices in grass contain folic acid, a vitamin essential to a cat’s well-being. Folic acid, also present in the mother cat’s milk, aids the production of oxygen in the cat’s bloodstream. A folic acid deficiency may lead to anemia, and a young cat’s growth can be stunted if she doesn’t get enough of it. Do cats instinctively know they’re deficient in folic acid and nibble grass to right the situation? Even experts can only guess. For a cat who never goes outdoors, folic acid supplements are available, to be added to your cat’s food. Your vet can advise whether your cat can benefit from these.

That Laxative Appeal

Since cats themselves can’t say, experts theorize that cats eat grass as a natural laxative. It may add fiber and bulk to their diet, helping them pass worms or fur through their intestinal tract. If broader-leafed varieties offer a laxative effect, thinner-leafed grass induces cats to vomit. But veterinarians stop short of declaring grass necessary. It may assist in clearing things out, but healthy cats are able to process and pass matter out without this help. Some experts believe cats eat grass to settle their stomachs, much as humans pop an antacid tablet. Others say cats simply like the texture and taste of grass, no matter what its properties do for their insides.

Heave-Ho

After munching away on grass, a short time later, cats inevitably upchuck those greens. Not because they’re gagging on the veggie flavor. It’s because cats’ systems do not have the correct enzymes to digest plant matter. By regurgitating grass, the cat also expels other indigestible items she may have eaten — which could include fur balls from grooming, or feathers and bones from any prey she has consumed. Clearing her digestive tract this way is healthy for the cat. It alleviates any feeling of discomfort, even if the process, and its end-products, may repulse her owner. So don’t punish your cat for upchucking!

Healthy Habit or Dangerous Delicacy?

While eating grass may seem unappealing to you, many cats love it and it’s not generally harmful to them. They rarely eat more than occasional small amounts, but if yours eats it daily or in large amounts, that could indicate intestinal distress that should be addressed by your vet. If your cat is an indoor-outdoor pet, supervise her grazing when you take her outside. Keep her away from grass or plants that have been chemically treated and always use pet-friendly lawn treatment or fertilizers. If your cat is outside most of the time, she could ingest toxic, pesticide-tainted grass — another good reason to keep your cat indoors.

Growing your Own

If your cat seems to enjoy the taste and texture of grass, give her a small grazing area of her own in your home. So-called feline herbs or greens–usually wheat or oat grass — come pre-packaged at pet supply stores, as seeds or in pre-spouted form. Cats generally prefer this to regular grass and you can be sure it hasn’t been treated. Fresh catnip is also easy to grow, and obviously gets cats’ approval and attention. Set Kitty’s private planter in a favorite spot that’s easily accessible. You’ll know she’s enjoying fresh, safe greens. You’ll also know when she’s consumed them, thanks to the sound of feline retching that follows.

Related:
24 Common Plants Poisonous to Pets
Growing a Home Garden for Your Pet
Dogs Eating Grass

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Cats, Pet Health, Pets,

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155 comments

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12:27PM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

TYFS

11:26AM PDT on Oct 21, 2013

Thanks for sharing

7:47AM PST on Feb 18, 2013

I buy my cats A pot of fresh grass every month in the winter and in the summer they have their own garden of cat nip and grasses for their delight which they absolutely adore!!!! Nothing gives me more pleasure then watching them eat their grasses and rolling around like little mad hatters!!!

9:40AM PDT on Sep 25, 2012

good to know

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Very true, cats are not vegan but obligate carnivores and do munch on blades of grass more for medicinal purrposes not nutrition. The cat that owns me loves her potted grass and while some cats can get grass stuck in their throats and cause problems this is not the norm any more than a cat can choke on their usual food. Sadly it can happen on occasion but in general cats like a taste of the green to rid themselves of hair balls and other purposes such as the above mentioned folic acid.

Visiting cats to my place get potted grass to nibble on, the two who see me daily love it and one knows where it is put and meows for it to be put on the floor.

12:34AM PDT on May 31, 2012

it's what they do...

8:03PM PDT on May 22, 2012

enzymes that dont accure in comercial possesed foods are in grass. The barbs on lawn grass can be a little harsh. The raw foods that felines eat when hunting contain enzymes that work with the enzymes that the cats digestive organs secrete. you can get probiotics in powder form. But wheatgrass rye etc grass is tender loved by your pal. Some raw meat is a good idea but not excepted by many. consuming uncooked enzyme rich food helps keep there thier teeth clean for PH level reasons in thier mouth. Please no this just my theory.

9:51AM PDT on May 8, 2012

THEY EAT GRASS TO HELP THEM WHEN THEY HAVE AN UPSET TUMMY!

4:40PM PST on Jan 16, 2012

Cats eating Grass can be very Bad! One of my cats has a habit of eating it hes always been free to come in and out the house so hard to stop him. Like Marty K. Mine also got a blade of grass caught in his throat and he was in alot of pain and couldnt breathe he went to the vets and had to be sedated to have it removed. This time he might not be soo lucky as its embedded in his stomach wall which caused a mass of infection hes got through his op but only time will tell if he will make it. Grass can be a big danger to cats even if it is rare to happen and comes with £££ vet bills.

9:37PM PDT on Sep 15, 2011

My grandmother always said cats eats grass when they don't feel well, when their stomach is upset. Whatever it might be, I do think they are trying to heal something. Smart furry creatures they are! :0)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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