Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

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It's common to see a curious cat explore her surroundings by rubbing against a couch or batting at the drapes, but nibbling grass can be a confusing behavior for pet parents to witness. Is grass eating safe? Are her nutritional needs not being met? Fortunately, there are a few reasons why cats eat grass and ways you can encourage them to do so in a healthy manner.

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Cats eat grass because they have a natural desire to do so and it feels good. Some cats may like the texture of grass and the satisfaction of crunching on it, making it a fun pastime. Other cats may eat grass to help empty the contents of their stomach. As carnivores, their ancestors (who hunted prey in the wild) may have eaten grass in order to vomit any undigestible components of their meals, including hair and small bones. House cats may eat grass when they have a hairball or an upset stomach. Cats vomiting after eating grass is normal.

Is Grass Safe for Cats?

If your cat seems interested in eating grass, there are ways to safely allow her to do so, with cat-specific grasses (conveniently called cat grass) available. Usually, cat grass is orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata), but other types of cat-safe grass are also sold as cat grass. Oat, rye, barley and wheat grasses are safe for cats and may be part of the potted grass or seeds that you can purchase for your cat.

Orchard grass is safe for cats, however, not all types of grass are safe for cats to eat, and many types of houseplants are in fact toxic to cats. Cat grass grown specifically for cats to chew is safer than outdoor grass, which may be treated with pesticides or be contaminated with parasites or fungus.

Too much grass can cause a blockage in the stomach or intestines, so it is important to monitor your cats intake and output. If your cat stops eating its regular food after eating grass or if she begins to vomit only liquid and foam or blood, contact your veterinarian.

Not to be confused with cat grass, catnip naturally contains a substance that can cause mild hallucinations when inhaled by cats. Many cats enjoy catnip either as a fresh plant or in its dried form. Catnip is safe for adult cats in a controlled environment, such as your home with any stairs blocked off. The effects usually wear off in about ten minutes.

To learn more about which plants may be toxic to cats, visit this ASPCA database.

Written by PetCoach Editorial August 29, 2018
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