Why do cats eat grass?
Turns out, there isn’t a lot of research on why cats eat grass, says Dr. Pete Lands, DVM, director of emergency and critical care at St. Francis Veterinary Center in New Jersey. But there could be a few different reasons to answer the question, “Why do cats eat grass?”
Cats commonly have a number of underlying gastrointestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome. So eating grass may be a way for them to calm down their GI tract either to help move things along a little bit faster or help them vomit up hairballs, Lands says. Curious about other cat behaviours? Find out why cats knead.
Grass has plenty of fibre, which can help with constipation. “Cats are notoriously poor water drinkers, and sometimes adding fibre to the diet just helps them poop a little bit easier,” says Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT, a holistic veterinarian based in Boulder, Colorado.
And some cats may eat grass to make up for nutritional deficiencies in their diet, such as folic acid, which helps form hemoglobin. “If the diet they have at home is devoid of certain vitamins, minerals, or nutrients, they may be trying to find those elsewhere,” Lands says. “So one place they may be able to find folic acid would be by eating grass if that was something that their diet might be missing.”
Is eating grass related to stress?
That said, eating grass may also be a sign that your kitty is stressed out. Learn to spot the signs your cat is secretly mad at you.
“Some people say if a cat is in a stressful environment, they may stress eat, similar to the way humans stress or emotionally eat to kind of help relax them or calm them down,” Lands says. That may be the case with feral cats. Find out the most common mistakes cat owners make, according to the Cat Whisperer.
Is it good for cats to eat grass?
Eating some grass may help your cat’s digestion. But too much could result in medical complications. “In [North] America, most of our cats are indoors all year, so if they’re going outside and eating grass, you should probably get on the phone and talk to your vet,” Lands says. In some cases, if a cat eats too much grass, it can get stuck in the stomach and require surgery to remove. A visit to the vet will help identify any underlying conditions that could be causing your cat to eat grass.
But some cats just like the taste of grass, and in small amounts, it can provide valuable fibre. Krause has a cat with GI issues, and she grows cat grass for her cat to eat. “He’s the one who will eat grass until he vomits, no matter what kind of grass,” Krause says. “And so with him, when I grow grass for him, I watch how much is available to him, because he’ll just mow [it] down if I grow a ton.”
Now that you know the answer to the question “why do cats eat grass,” learn how to spot the subtle signs your cat is depressed.