Table of Contents
Cats do a lot of strange things, but perhaps one of the most common things that you may have observed, especially if you own a garden or a yard, is seeing your cat eating grass.
Now, cats are naturally carnivores, although they may be fed vegetables occasionally as a part of their diet. Still, seeing your feline friend eat grass may be concerning since it is certainly out of the norm.
So why do cats eat grass? Unless you can find a cat that can magically speak and will allow to be interviewed, we will never know the real answer.
However, there are a lot of theories. In fact, most of these theories may be true and do have some form of scientific basis.
Why Cats Eat Grass
It is not just cats that eat grass. Dogs have been observed to do the same type of behavior. Explanations as to why these furry friends eat grass are the same. Here are the most commonly believed reasons.
To Induce Vomiting
This is the most commonly believed reason as to why cats eat grass. Cats don’t have very good digestive systems, and the materials that they eat may not easily pass through their bodies naturally.
Examples of these materials that cats might eat include bones, feathers, hair, or fur. If these materials cannot pass through one end, then cats might eat grass to induce it to come out the other.
While this is the most commonly accepted reason, cats that eat grass sometimes are not seen to vomit after. Only about a quarter of cats that eat grass vomit, based on surveys.
To Serve as a Laxative
Grass contains a lot of fiber. Like humans eating fiber to help improve their digestion, it is believed that cats eat grass for the same purpose.
Cats can get indigestion, constipation, or an upset stomach. Cats will eat grass either to vomit or to let whatever is in the digestive system pass the normal way.
Grass is mainly used as a digestive aid, especially for cats that hunt and eat rats or birds. Bones and feathers may get stuck in the intestinal tract and grass can help in making it pass.
To Get Rid of Parasites in the Digestive System
As some cats forage for food in trash and other unsanitary places, they may get some intestinal parasites that can wreak havoc on their digestive systems and cause some very negative health effects.
Parasitic infestations can also occur when they are exposed to the fecal matter of other cats that have already been infected.
Like the abovementioned reason, cats may eat grass to induce bowel movement, clean the tract, and remove these parasites from the body.
Some researchers have stated that eating grass is an instinctual behavior caused by centuries of evolution, especially when cats were still common in the wild and not yet domesticated.
Even if most domesticated cats are no longer exposed to these types of parasites, their instincts have been retained as part of their evolution and are more of a precautionary measure than anything else.
To Get Additional Nutrients
It has been inferred that cats get additional nutrients by eating grass. It is widely believed that they are getting folic acid by eating grass. This vitamin helps with digestion, supports growth, and helps in the production of healthy blood.
While it has not been proven for sure, it seems as if younger cats eat grass more commonly. As folic acid is one of the main nutrients found in cat’s milk, it may seem that there is a connection between eating grass and being weaned off milk by their parents.
Another possible benefit of eating grass is to ease a sore throat or to help dislodge food particles like fish bones in the area.
Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Grass?
It is generally safe for cats to eat grass. However, it may be time to schedule a visit to the vet if your cat eats grass and vomits or has loose bowels regularly.
If the above occurs all the time, then your cat may have some digestive issues or is eating something that always upsets their stomach.
It would also be time for a checkup if you see changes in your cat’s appearance and behavior. Cats may eat grass as a form of medication if they are not feeling well.
Eating grass may also cause complications especially if the grass is poisonous, sprayed with pesticide, is sick, or has parasites or insects that can cause harm to your cat when ingested.
What Can You Do to Help?
If you cannot prevent your cat from eating grass, then check out your yard for any poisonous grasses that can harm your cat.
Examples of poisonous grasses include brackens, sorghums, button grass, capeweed, and mintweed, among others, are particularly dangerous as they can have accumulated levels of cyanide or nitrates.
Make sure that the grasses and plants found in your yard are non-poisonous for your cat. Better yet, grow some indoor grasses and let your cat feed from that area instead.
Cats can eat grass for a variety of reasons. There is no universally accepted truth as to why they do it, though. Maybe they just like the taste of grass and would like some variety in their diet. Nobody knows for sure.
Cats eating grass is considered to be pretty normal if it is not frequent. However, if you see your cat doing this regularly or at least once a week, then there might be some reason for concern.
This holds true especially if you see your cat vomiting or having loose bowels all of the time.
If any of these happen regularly, inspect your cat’s surroundings for anything that may be upsetting its stomach. It would also be a good idea to have him or her checked by a vet to make sure that everything is alright.
Of course, if your cat is a regular grass-eater, make an effort to ensure that all plants and grasses in the area are non-poisonous. This will make sure that your feline friend can eat grass safely and happily, whatever its reason may be.