Why Do Cats Eat Grass? 5 Great Theories To Solve The Mystery

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why do cats eat grass

Cats are carnivore animals. They are known for being cute, fearsome, and uncompassionate hunters. Who hasn’t seen their kitty eating and enjoying a good patch of green from their garden. That makes us wonder. Why do cats eat grass?

Eating grass is quite typical behavior in cats, with 70% of cats reported doing so regularly. Chances are, your cat is one of them.

Theories about why do cats eat grass

There are some theories or common thoughts on why cats eat grass:

  • Cats eat grass because their stomach hurts. They eat the grass, which leads them to vomit whatever is in their stomach. This is because they cannot fully digest the grass. 
  • Another thought is that the grass gives them fibre. This might work for clearing hairballs out of the system, as the grass will pass through.
  • Also, the grass contains folic acid, which sometimes cats are lacking. This nutrient is commonly found in the breast milk they used to take as kittens. Folic acid tends to help the body producing haemoglobin, which is a component in the blood which helps to carry oxygen. It also promotes growth and intestinal digestion. Although there is not enough scientific data to asseverate that cats that eat grass have a deficiency on folic acid. Most commercial diets have plenty of folic acid in them, so this is not necessarily a reason why cats eat grass.
  • Another thought or theory is that they might like how it tastes. They like to munch on something different.
  • Also, it could be an OCD behaviour type, which could be indicating anxiety. Anxiety in cats can manifest in different forms. 
    • Cats can hyde in small places when they are anxious about something
    • Cats can urinate or defecate in different spaces. Sometimes outside the litter box
    • Cats can start scratching in furniture or places they usually wouldn’t
    • Cats can change routines and behaviour. Normally that’s an indicator that they are having a problem dealing with something.
    • Eating grass compulsively and vomiting.

If you observe your cat vomiting frequently when eating grass and vomiting it all the time, it might be worth it to pay a visit to the vet.

What recent studies show us about Why do cats eat grass?

In a recent study that looked at why cats eat grass, in 91% of the cases, the humans said that their cats didn’t appear to be unwell before they ate grass, and they didn’t vomit either. This refutes the theory of cats eating grass to make themselves vomit. 

It has been proposed that regular plant-eating by domestic carnivores reflects an innate behavior from a world ancestor who regularly ate grass. This is shown on the large cats by examining their feces, which showed a lot of undigested plant material. It is thought that this innate behavior’s function was to eliminate parasites. By eating non-digestive plants or grass, the intestines contract more to work harder, removing parasites.

This is also shown in primates. Eating non-digestible plants contracts the intestines and is used for purging them from parasites. 

So by eating grass, cats are clearing from intestinal parasites and reducing the burden in there, whether they sense that or not.  [2]

Can do eating grass work to reduce hairballs?

It doesn’t mention in the study, but we can conclude that eating grass can help your cat eliminate hairballs if we believe that after eating grass, the workload of the intestines will increase the intestine contractions. That will help to eliminate anything else there is in the intestine. This includes possible hairballs that could have passed through or hair that is building up.

What do I need to consider for my cat to be safe when eating grass?

There is nothing wrong with cats eating grass occasionally. You need to make sure your cat is safe eating it, and there are no undesirable ingredients on that grass, like chemicals, fertilizers, or fungicides. If you have sprayed your garden recently with any of these chemicals, be aware that your cat could be eating poison with the grass. The best solution to that is to avoid your kitty going out for a short while or preventing him from accessing that side of the garden. 

If your cat eats grass and plants indoors, you need to consider what kind of plants you are hosting in your house. Many plants can cause serious trouble to your furry little friend if he decides to include them on the menu. 

One of the most common ones is Lilies. If your cat ingests enough of this plant, it can cause kidney failure.

Check here if you doubt if your house plants are poisonous to your cat. 

What to do next?

If your cat loves plants and likes to eat grass, there is something called cat grass that you can consider providing for your kitty. Having indoor grass might help your cat with the hairballs and intestinal parasites.  Also, check out Catnip is a good and safe option for your cat, and why.

As always, try to keep your pets happy and safe.

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