Why Do Cats Eat Grass? A Kitty’s Point of View
My pet parent makes sure I get all the nutrients I need by feeding me good quality cat food – and, of course, some healthy treats!
Cat food should contain the right balance of water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals which we get from meat and fish, vegetables, and cereals.
But despite us cats being obligate carnivores, you may wonder why we like to nibble on grass.
Why do cats eat grass?
In a study by researchers from the University of California, and presented at the 53rd International Society for Applied Ethology in Norway (2019) - over 1000 of my feline friends were closely watched by their pet parents for over 3 hours a day.
This important study found that:
- 71% of the cats were observed eating grass at least 6 times in their lifetime
- 11% were never seen eating grass at all
- 91% of cats were described as being ‘normal’ before eating the grass, i.e. no signs of digestive issues
- 27% of my feline friends did vomit after eating grass
- 39% of the cats studied were under 3 years old, and only 11% of these vomited after eating grass
- In cats 4 years old and over, those that vomited increased to 27%!
The conclusion was that eating grass isn’t a telltale sign that an animal is or feels sick, and more importantly, it’s likely an instinctual cat behavior that even the most diligent pet parent won’t be able to stop.
The solution, the research team suggests, is to make sure we cats have enough safe, non-poisonous vegetation to eat, like cat grass – even if it does end up back on the kitchen floor!
The theory of why cats eat grass
Scientists have a few theories of why cats like to eat grass.
- Sometimes, if we are stressed, we may groom ourselves excessively and ingest too much of our own fur. Grass helps to move food and hairballs along our digestive tract so that they don’t get stuck in our gut. And this makes it easier for us to pass – or vomit.
- Our ancestors in the wild may have done the same in order to remove indigestible pieces of bone, feathers or parasites they may have ingested from their prey.
- Grass juice contains folic acid which aids digestion.
- We just enjoy nibbling grass!
Things for pet parents to remember
It’s not a bad thing if you see us eating grass. It’s our way of regulating our digestive system! But if you think your kitty is eating too much grass, it might be wise to have them checked out by a vet.
Cats like to wander outside and that’s usually where we nibble grass – so do be careful not to spray your garden with pesticides, otherwise we could become ill!
It’s also important to make sure the plants around your home are cat friendly. There are a number of plants you could make accessible for your cat – like Cat Grass, a Money Tree plant or a Spider plant. I like those!
Usually we’re quite good at self-regulating, so only ingest the amount of grass we need to. If we’re eating grass a lot more than usual though, or if you notice your cat sneezing more than normal, grass may have got stuck at the back of our mouths. So again, it’s best to get us checked out by the vet in those situations.
Now, where’s the best spot of green grass for me?