Why Does My Cat Eat Grass?
And if he must, you can grow your own cat grass 🙃
Your cat has plenty of yummy food and treats to choose from, so you probably did a double-take the first time you caught your cat eating grass.
While this behavior is definitely strange, it’s actually pretty common for cats.
So, why do cats eat grass — and is it a problem?
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Megan Dundas, a veterinarian and practice owner at Lincolndale Veterinary Center in New York, who explained what might cause your cat to eat grass, and whether you should do anything about it.
Why do cats eat grass?
Turns out no one really knows, but there are a few guesses.
“There are many theories on why cats eat grass, and little hard evidence in the form of published studies to really explain this behavior in cats,” Dr. Dundas told The Dodo.
It’s possible that your cat is eating grass to help with digestion issues.
“One of the theories is that grass may aid with passage of intestinal parasites or ingested material, such as hairballs or even bones, feathers or fur of ingested prey,” Dr. Dundas explained.
Or he might actually be sick.
“Less commonly, eating grass can be a sign of illness,” Dr. Dundas said. “It’s worth bringing this up with your vet and reviewing your cat’s diet, health history and lifestyle in determining if there is an underlying health concern associated with grass eating.”
But if your cat’s health checks out, he might be chewing on grass because he just likes the way it feels.
Can cats even eat grass?
Eating grass isn’t technically bad for your cat, as long as he’s not eating a ton of it.
In fact, it can even have its benefits.
“Grass is a source of folic acid, which is an essential nutrient that is important in digestive health, production of hemoglobin and cell growth,” Dr. Dundas explained. “Folic acid is also found in a cat’s mother’s milk.”
But eating grass can be risky for your cat, too.
It’s super important to make sure that your cat isn’t chowing down on grass that’s loaded up with chemicals or other treatments.
“Eating grass could cause a problem if the grass is treated with pesticides or other chemicals, leading to irritation of the mouth and gastrointestinal upset,” Dr. Dundas said.
Signs of gastrointestinal upset include:
- Foaming at the mouth
- Drooling excessively
- Decreased appetite
If your cat enjoys snacking on grass, it’s even possible he could ingest parasites as well, which can cause a variety of health issues.
And if your cat is chewing on grass, there’s a chance he might also want to chew on your flowers or plants, too.
“If this is the case, be certain that your houseplants are not toxic to cats if ingested,” Dr. Dundas explained. “Lillies are extremely toxic to cats, and I would advise against any cat owner keeping this plant in their home.”
Should you stop cats from eating grass?
“Cats don’t necessarily need to be restricted from eating grass, as long as the above criteria are met (no pesticides or chemicals) and the cat is regularly screened for intestinal parasites,” Dr. Dundas explained.
But if you don’t want to worry about your cat eating grass, there are ways to keep your cat from chowing down on it.
“You would have to restrict access to grass by keeping the cat indoors, only allowing access to areas without grass [like a patio], or using noise, like clapping, to deter the cat when the cat is caught eating grass,” Dr. Dundas said.
Cat-safe grass is actually a thing
If you don’t want to deprive your cat of any nutritional benefits (or fun!) from eating grass, you can actually get him cat-safe grass.
“If your cat is inclined to eat grass, you can buy cat grass or grow cat grass of your own,” Dr. Dundas explained. “Wheat, rye or oat grass are good options.”
If you don’t know how to grow cat grass, you can even get a kit that makes the whole thing super easy.
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