Why do cats eat grass?

Why do cats eat grass?

I know what you are thinking; there is something seriously wrong with my cat, why would this carnivore require vegetation all of a sudden?  Cats belong to a group of mammals known as carnivore and their wild ancestors dined primarily on meat.  So a cat eating grass is certainly strange and may seem unusual, however, grass can actually have numerous benefits for them.  As a cat owner I am sure that we have all noticed our little feline friend nibble on the odd bit of grass, which is very often followed by vomiting.  I used to think that my grass might be toxic based on my pet’s behaviour but I was surprised to learn that when a cat eats grass it could have health benefits such as acting like a natural stress relief or helping relieve them from constipation.  However, if your cat eats grass often, a piece of grass could get stuck inside their nasal chambers and causes them to sneeze excessively.  If this happens, you will need to contact your vet immediately to have it manually removed. 

Over 70% of cats have been reported to eat grass and one of the most common theories has been that it helps if they have an upset stomach.  This is because cats tend to throw up after they eat and it is thought that it helps them clear their system of anything they couldn’t digest.  Sometimes things your cat cannot digest will move too far down the digestive tract and may get stuck, such as their own hair or feathers and bones from prey.  It is thought that grass can actually work to help break them down, making it easier for them to pass them.  This means that grass could actually help to clean their system and relieve constipation. Other theories have been based on what grass juice contains which is folic acid (also found in a cat’s mother’s milk), an essential vitamin which aids with digestion, supports cell growth and helps with the production of haemoglobin. 

Eating grass is a very common occurrence and over the years a number of theories on why cats eat grass have been considered.  Regular eating of grass is a reflection of an innate behaviour from a wild ancestor who regularly ate grass and this has been shown in the large cats’ faeces.  By examining their faeces a lot of indigested plant material has been found which, it is thought, helps to expel intestinal parasites from the gut.   Regardless of whether you have an indoor or an outdoor cat, it might be worth considering purchasing or cultivating your own small tray of grass and placing it in your home to add to your cat's indoor experience!  Hopefully this might even encourages them to eat the grass in your home, rather than outdoors where it could contain pesticides or chemicals.

If you're worried about the amount of grass your cat is eating, contact your vet who will be able to book you an appointment to check them over.  Cats do a lot of weird and wonderful things but at least you can take comfort in the knowledge that grass munching helps your kitty expel intestinal parasites

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