Why Do Cats Eat Grass?


If you have a cat who is allowed access to the outdoors, I’m sure that at some point you’ve probably seen her nibbling on a few blades of grass in your yard. I’m also sure that immediately afterward you’ve probably seen her throw that grass right back up. It might seem odd that kitty would enjoy eating something that obviously makes her sick, but there are a few theories that seem to indicate grass nibbling actually serves a valuable function.

Though your kitty is a consummate carnivore, she still needs the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that are found in plants. In the wild, cats get this important nutrition through their grass-eating prey. Domestic cats, on the other hand, may try eating toxic house plants or pesticide-treated outdoor grass to get the greens they crave. It is much safer to provide your feline companion with healthy, organic grass options indoors, like Whisker Greens.

The reasons for cats eating grass aren't completely understood, but there is an explanation which, though not proven, makes sense. You may well have noticed your cat, as soon as he goes outside, makes a beeline for a clump of grass then immediately starts wolfing it down.

Grass isn't really digestible to cats, and it's thought it has very little nutritional value. So why do cats eat grass? It's thought they do it to make themselves sick in order to clean out their digestive system. There are a couple of reasons they'd want to do this:

During grooming, cats swallow a lot of hair, which is indigestible and may clog up their digestive system. Eating grass helps them to throw the hairballs back up and prevent this. Hairballs that don’t get vomited back up, go through the intestinal tract. Sometimes those hairballs don’t pass so easily out the other end. Cats might instinctively know that the added fiber from eating grass may help lubricate things in the south end so hairballs and fecal matter pass more easily.

Cats may eat grass as a way of ridding their digestive tract of something unpleasant or inedible. Grass nibbling may be of particular importance to outdoor cats who eat prey in order to get rid of any inedible parts that get swallowed (feathers, bones, etc.). It can also be a way for a cat to get rid of some hair that gets swallowed during grooming which may cut down on hairballs.

Another theory is that cats may eat grass for the nutrients it contains. Typically, when a cat eats prey such as a mouse, she would also be consuming the contents of the prey’s stomach. The prey’s tummy typically contains grasses and grains.

This mainly applies to cats that kill mice, birds etc. and then eat them. Feathers, bones, fur etc. aren't digestible, but the cat is likely to swallow some during the course of his mouse or bird dinner. Cats eating grass after eating prey may be doing it to throw up the bits of the prey they've swallowed but can't digest.

House cats may have an urge/need to eat grass, and there is commercial cat grass available in pet stores which you grow in a tray indoors for Kitty to eat. It's definitely worth trying this if your cat has a particular taste for houseplants he may be eating these because there's no grass available. Providing grass for him may give your houseplants a much-needed respite.

Eating grass is typically not harmful. If you have an outdoor cat though, you wouldn’t want her eating grass that has been chemically treated. The safest way to provide grass for your cat is to grow a pot of it for her. You can either purchase a “kitty greens” kit at your local pet product store or grow your own using rye, wheat or oat seeds. In fact, providing your cat with some safe kitty greens may help prevent her from nibbling on dangerous houseplants which are toxic to cats.

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Posted by: Lusubilo A. Mwaijengo

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