Cat owners, vets, and researchers all seem to agree on the fact that while cats and kittens are strict carnivores, they may nibble a few blades of grass and other green. It is one of their weird behaviors. Some chew less often while others more often.
However, there is no consensus as to why kitties eat grass with many theorizing possible reasons which will look at in detail.
Research presented to the International Society for Applied Ethology in Bergen, Norway, observed that cats do nibble greeneries. A majority (97%) didn’t show any signs of illness, with only 27% of felines vomiting afterward.
The research further notes that a total of 11% of felines aged three years regular eaters as opposed to 27% of those four years or above. However, of regular eaters aged three years and below, a whopping 39% ate plants daily.
Why do cats and kittens eat grass?
Grass eating isn’t always an indication of stomach trouble, as many people assume. There are many possible explanations for this behavior. Among the many theories presented for indoor or outdoor cats eating grass or grazing by experts, researchers, animal behaviorist include the following:
1. Is it to induce vomiting, or why do cats eat grass and vomit?
While trying to answer as to why cats eating grass and vomit, many people say that kitties grass just after eating inedibles like swallowed bone, feathers, fur, and so on to induce vomiting. They are trying to clean their gut, get rid of any discomforts, and avert chances of them causing further complications or diseases (in case of parasites).
Once they have vomited, if you look at the foamy, green mess, you may notice some inedibles accompanying the vomit like small hairballs.
Before domestication, kitties ate their prey entirely, just like lions, tigers, and other cats, and perhaps they needed to get rid of inedibles, making vomiting an instinctively necessary part of their feeding and digestion process.
However, contrary to the assumption by many people, cats don’t eat grass to make themselves sick. Just because they see them throw up afterward doesn’t mean the plants made them sick, it may have not.
One possible explanation as to why cats eat grass and vomit is that it tickles their throat and gut as they swallow it quickly without chewing it, especially the narrow blades.
The other reason why they kitties end up vomiting is that they cannot digest grass or plant materials efficiently. They are trying only to get rid of it because as strict carnivores that lack enzymes to digest plants and not that they don’t like the taste. They wouldn’t have eaten it in the first place.
Furthermore, there is a different opinion when it comes if these pets eat grass to induce vomiting or they puke due to the feeling created by chomping grass. Do they eat plants instinctively so that they can vomit, or is the puking only a result of them ingesting grass? Questions to ponder.
One issue that discredits this theory is the fact that not all of them vomit as already seen. Only 27% vomited, something cast a cloud of doubt to those who believe that felines eat plants to make themselves vomit when they are sick.
Finally, don’t assume the vomiting occurs due to the grass being toxic or poisonous and whether it make cats vomit or not isn’t in question. The question is, why do they eat it in the first place.
2. Is it a laxative to help with indigestion?
A second reason why cats eat grass and other plants will work as a laxative, i.e., it has fiber that will promote gastrointestinal bowel movement, minimizing chances of constipation, especially those that don’t hydrate well.
Additionally, fiber will that may aid in breaking down indigestible materials like hairballs deep in their digestion tract that they cannot vomit like hairballs and so on.
Furthermore, according, Purina, narrow-leaved grasses do help in dealing with stomach upsets, i.e., “while broad grasses seem to have a laxative effect, narrow grasses are suspected of helping a cat settle an upset stomach.”
Felines suffering from gastrointestinal diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may resort to eating greenery as a way to calm their bowels by making food move faster and easier.
Finally, if you look at Purina ONE Hairball Adult Formula Dry Cat Food, Blue Buffalo Indoor Hairball & Weight Control Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Adult Dry Cat Food or Hill’s Science Diet Adult Hairball Control Chicken Recipe Dry Cat Food, they have added natural fibers.
3. Does grass help expel GI parasites and settle tummy issues
Closely related to aiding bowel movements, as WESTVET notes, plants may help in expulsion of parasites, i.e., “it wraps around GI parasites and stimulates the cat’s gut to purge the worms usually in the stool. Some cats vomit the grass-covered worms.”
Studies on primates and carnivores show evidence of these animals eating grass and plant they can’t digest regularly as a means of expelling worms. Remember that these animals always have a load of parasites.
While not one of the most likely reasons you domesticated kitties may be eating grass, it may be a part of their evolutionary adaptive way to get rid of GI parasites. However, ensure you regularly deworm your kitties regularly
Bayer Tapeworm Cat De-Wormer is the best choice, while others Pro-Sense Liquid Cat Dewormer, Drontal, among others, are also very effective.
4. Do they have a nutritional deficiency?
Grass and many plants are excellent sources of fiber, chlorophyll, minerals, and vitamins, especially vitamins A, D, and B vitamins like folic acid.
Folic acid is essential to cats and is always in a cat’s mother milk. It helps in the formation of hemoglobin, supports growth, digestion, among other roles. A deficiency of folic acid will cause feline anemia and stunted growth in growing kittens.
On the other hand, chlorophyll was once crucial for treating ulcers, infections, pain, anemia, and skin diseases in humans, while fiber helps things to keep moving in their tummies.
While in the wild, felines feed on small rodents and other small animals that feed on eat plants, grains, and other plant materials. As they consume these prey, they will also eat their stomach content that has plant materials that will provide them with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Therefore, it is possible for a domestic feline with folic or fiber deficiency chronic gastrointestinal disease hampers folic absorption to resort to eating plants instinctively. They are only trying to get what they are lacking.
If you suspect kitty lacks folic acid, just buy VETFLIX Pet Vitamins 10 in 1 for dogs and cats, which has Glucosamine or NUSENTIA Cat Vitamins- Spectrin. Most cat vitamins do have folic acid. However, always check on the list of ingredients to be sure.
Finally, don’t forget to change to top cat foods. However, introduce them slowly.
5. Are they stressed or anxious?
When in a stressful environment, cats may eat things they don’t usually eat just to get some sort of relief by chewing something. The chewing may be a displacement behavior, just like a human may indulge in food.
To tell if your kitty is stressed or anxious, look for other signs such as excessive vocalizations, grooming, aggressiveness, withdrawal, etcetera. Also, check anything that may trigger stress, such as a new pet, moving to a new place, and so on and talk to your vet for more help if you cannot figure out.
6. Other reason
- They may like its taste and texture.
- It’s part of pica behavior in felines where they eat non-food material, including paper, dirt, feces, plants, and so on.
Do cats like grass or not?
We have seen some of the possible explanations of grass eating in felines. The next question is trying whether or not felines like greeneries. Why do cats love grass, or don’t they like them?
Just as there is no consensus on why kitties eat plants, there is also no consensus on whether they like grass or not.
Some people claim that felines eat grass since they like their texture and taste without considering what it has or if they can digest it. Perhaps, they may have evolved eating some plants, they say.
However, looking at the facts that not all felines eat plants regularly, some only nibble a small amount of grass, it making them vomit afterward, it is sensible to say that kitties don’t like plants. They are strict carnivores without the right enzymes to digest plants.
There is a likelihood that plants are a necessary evil that these pets need and not that they love them.
My cat keeps eating grass, is it ok or should I see a vet?
No. It is not ok for your cats to keep eating grass, eat too much or every day. While nibbling a small amount is ok, excessive isn’t right.
You need to talk to your vet because if she eats a lot, and regularly. It may indicate a health issue or a gastrointestinal issue that needs your vet.
Also, if they overeat grass, it may get stuck in their tummies, calling for surgical removal. Furthermore, don’t forget that your feline cat will suffer from nutritional deficiencies as plants don’t have the nutrients they need, yet they will make them full quickly. Felines are meat-eaters.
That is not all, as Independent Ireland notes, “end up stuck at the back of the nose, inside the nasal chambers, causing fits of sneezing,” something that will require physical removal by your vet.
Besides overeating, you need to see your vet if your feline eats grass and shows other signs of ill-health such as lethargy, pain, or any other indication that seems unusual.
Should I grow cat grass?
Yes. It is good to give cats grass that is fresh and safe. Otherwise, they may end up eating other houseplants that are unsafe such as aloe vera, daffodil, lilies, ivies, azalea, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, daisies, and so on. How else do you expect them to deal with the urge of wanting to eat plants?
Also, they may grass on your lawn, presenting the risk of ingesting pesticides, herbicides, harmful fertilizers, intestinal parasites like roundworms and hookworms, and so on. To keep your cats off your law, consider feline-friendly means including repellents, fencing, training, and so on or keep them indoors.
When buying pet grass, always go for plain, organic (untreated) from pet stores that sell cat grass kits, which is usually a blend of rye, wheatgrass, barley, and oats, but some include flax.
A complete kit comes with soil, seeds, and a container for potting them. Your part will be growing it, watering, and ensuring it has direct sunlight at least once weekly.
See some of the best cat grasses in the market that will give your kitty a chance to practicing of her natural behavior.