Why does my cat eat grass?
As a cat long time owner, I’ve often wondered why cats eat grass.
From a scientific point of view, it doesn’t seem to be fully understood why cats will choose to eat grass. However, there are some theories that seem to make a lot of sense.
We will look at the reasons why it is thought that cats take on this behaviour. It is a mystery however, if cats are actually conscious of what the act of eating grass actually does for them.
Is eating grass fun?
Cats are known to chase and chew on objects for fun, such as a piece of string.
It is possible that the swaying grass just looks interesting and the cat’s curiosity of these blades sticking out of the ground poking into them may cause a natural reaction to chew, as if to better understand what it is. The texture of grass and the feeling it creates to chew on, may just be generally pleasurable for your cat.
Although some cats often like to chew on none-food objects anyway and grass may just be one of those things that they find pleasure chewing on, this can sometimes be part of an eating disorder. If you find your cat persistently chewing on items that have no nutritional value, then consider consulting your local vet or a beavioural specialist if you feel like this could be a problem for your little friend.
This act of chewing may also simulate the chewing of prey that has been caught. Their maybe some pleasure taken from the cat chewing on a pretend form of prey.
Maybe cats also actually enjoy the taste of eating a blade of grass, even if they can’t properly digest it.
Vitamin B9 or folic acid, is present in the the blades of grass that a cat will chew on. Folic acid is also a vital ingredient from their mother’s milk which helps the cat have oxygenated blood running healthily through their bodies. This is due to folic acid helping in the production of hemoglobin.
Whether this is part of a cats natural instinct to know that grass can aid them in this way, or whether they are conscious of it isn’t known as of yet.
There are a couple of theories relating to digestion that may help us understand why cats eat grass. Firstly, it is thought by some experts that grass can actually act as a natural laxative that can help break down foreign substances that their body has trouble digesting.
This can be a big help to particular cats that like to eat almost everything they sniff!
The actual blades of grass are not able to be affectively broken down and digested by the cat, so it isn’t seen as an actual food source. The act of chewing on the grass and releasing the juices contained within them can definitely be seen as beneficial though.
So we know that the blade of grass isn’t being digested, however the act of eating the grass can cause your cat to have a vomiting reaction. If you’ve ever watched your cat eat grass, then you may notice that they can sometimes make sneezing-like actions and occasionally look like they are about to throw up. As well as not being able to be digested, the grass also irritates the insides of the cat which will result in them feeling like they need to be sick.
The good side effect of this vomiting action is that it can help release any foreign and indigestible substances from your cats throat or stomach (such as a hairball). This can help the cat feel a lot better after eating the grass.
Again, because cats cannot speak to us, we can’t be sure if they eat grass with these intentions in mind.
On top of this, cats aren’t actually observed vomiting very often after they have been chewing on grass. This may imply that the side effect of a cat clearing up any unwanted substances or objects from their body may be purely accidental.
Since cats enjoy eating both the inedible parts as well as the edible parts of their prey when they catch them, eating grass can be particularly helpful to clearing them out of those unwanted bones and fur.
Is grass safe for cats to eat?
Grass in itself is completely safe for your cats to eat! There are a couple of precautions you may want to take if your cat is a regular grass eater though.
Firstly ensure that any plants that are toxic to your cat are removed from your garden if you see your cat attempting to eat grass near them. You may also need to be careful of which house plants you have that your cat can access, because some of them can be poisonous. Here are a few possible plants you may need to be careful of:
A larger list of common plants to be careful of your cat eating can be found on this Cats Protection page.
Ensure that no form of pesticide or herbicide is used on the grass that you see your cat eating, as these chemicals are also poisonous to your furry friend. If you’re worried about your cat ingesting any poisonous substances from eating grass, then it is possible for safe pots of indoor grass to be cultivated or bought for your cat to chew on.
Eating grass as stress relief
It is also very possible that your cat could be spending a lot of time chewing on grass or other plants as a form of stress relief. Otherwise known as “stress eating”. This is one of a few other ways that your cat can display signs that they are anxious.
The act of chewing on a plant can feel soothing to the cat. Of course this type of behaviour can be found in humans when we are going through emotional turmoil.
If you’re unsure whether this act of chewing plants is caused by anxiety or not, then you may want to look out for other types of behaviour in your cat too. These types of behaviour can be:
Withdrawing away from their owners.
Grooming themselves a lot more frequently than usual.
Meowing or whining more frequently than usual.
Being generally more aggressive than is normal for them.
Be aware that certain displays of behaviour can be a result of other causes too, so if you’re unsure and generally worried about any changes in your cats behaviour then it is advised that you consult your local vet.
Overall, the act of eating grass is not a harmful one for your cat, just take the precautions mentioned in this article to keep your cat as safe as possible from eating certain other plants and check for the other tell-tale signs of your cat being unhappy if you feel this behaviour is unusual for them.