Why do cats eat grass?

In an effort to be the best pet owners we can, we sometimes try to prevent our pets from doing things that we think could be harmful to them, or that don’t make sense to us. An example of this is when we see our cat eating grass, which is often followed by regurgitating it a short time later. Before cats were domesticated, they grazed on grass in the wild. This is actually normal behavior for your cat, and something they do for a specific purpose, so we have to let it happen.

Why does a cat eat grass? There are a number of reasons why cats do this. Many people think that eating grass will make their cat sick or give them an upset stomach. While it may seem like this is the case, the opposite is true. Because a cat is unable to separate fur and hair from meat or bones, they must consume everything they are going to eat in its whole form. After eating, their digestive system will process what it can, but the hair and fur, which don’t pass through the intestines, must be removed. Eating grass causes your cat’s stomach to contract and expel contents that can’t be thoroughly digested and pass safely through the intestines without causing a dangerous, even deadly, obstruction.

Anyone with a cat knows the countless hairballs that their cat regularly regurgitates. It is normal for cats to spit out a hairball, and if this stops and your cat begins to refuse to eat or appears to be in pain, it is possible that a hairball has entered the intestinal tract and caused an obstruction. If you think this has happened, make sure you consult your vet immediately to avoid serious consequences.

While it’s okay for your cat to nibble on grass, make sure she doesn’t nibble on other plants as this does not serve the same purpose as grass and some plants are toxic to animals. A cat’s digestive system does not produce the enzymes necessary to break down plants into a form that passes through their intestines. Even if you mashed vegetables or plants so that they would pass smoothly through the cat’s intestines, their digestive system would process absolutely no part of it. The plant or vegetable mixture would be expelled from your cat’s body with nothing taken out. As a process, this is not harmful to your cat; however, if digestible food was also consumed and mixed with this content, your cat would experience indigestion and abdominal pain, with more serious consequences.

Since eating grass is a natural behavior for cats, they will try to eat your houseplants if they are available. This is dangerous, as some houseplants are poisonous and can make your cat sick and even deadly. Since eating grass is actually beneficial for cats (to keep their intestines clear of unwanted fur and hair), it’s a good idea to make sure you regularly provide them with potted grass for them to nibble on; especially indoor cats that don’t have access to a regular supply, such as outdoor cats. This will not only serve to help him regurgitate what his stomach can’t handle, but will also help deter him from your houseplants, even the non-toxic ones.

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For cat owners who may be concerned about their cat eating grass, keep in mind that in addition to the stomach-clearing benefit, grass contains a significant amount of moisture, some beneficial trace minerals, and small amounts of vitamins A and D. Chlorophyll has also been found in grass, which has been shown to be a natural remedy for pain, ulcers and anemia. While cats mainly eat grass to rid their stomachs of indigestible matter, there is a second reason why they do it, and that is simply because they enjoy the taste of grass, which can seem very appetizing to a cat.