Why Does My Cat Eat Grass?
If cats are supposed to be picky eaters, why do they devour 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 him 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 why cats eat grass, 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’s eating grass to help with digestion issues. That’s because grass can act as a laxative or induce vomiting when he eats it.
“One of the theories is that grass may aid with passage of intestinal parasites or ingested material, such as hair balls or even bones, feathers or fur of ingested prey,” Dr. Dundas explained.
So if your cat ate something that’s not sitting right in his stomach, or is difficult to digest, you might notice him chowing on some grass.
If your cat’s eating grass, it might also mean that your cat’s sick — although, this doesn’t seem to be the case too often.
“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 texture of it.
Can cats eat grass safely?
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, which can cause a variety of health issues.
And by 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 I stop my cat 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 said.
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.
You can also provide your cat with a safe alternative to grass found outside, which is known as cat grass.
Grass for cats is actually a thing
If your cat loves 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.
So if your cat’s eating grass, you don’t have to panic. Just make sure he’s not eating too much, or get him some cat grass as an alternative.
We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.