Why Do Cats Eat Grass And How Does It Affect Them?

Fact. When you live with a cat, you’ll come across some question-raising behaviors. What is it, for example, with their tongue sometimes just casually sticking out? And why do cats eat grass? Most quirks are just cute, but in this case, it’s good to know if your cat eating grass is safe. Find out why it’s perfectly normal, and what to watch out for. Plus, discover some natural grass alternatives for your cat. While you’re here, find out if your cat suffers from a pollen allergy and what you can do about it.

So it’s official – cats eat grass. You’ve likely already seen this from your own furball. But now, thanks to a survey from the University of California Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, you can see the bigger picture too:

  • 89% of cats ate grass six or more times throughout their lives
  • 11% of cats were never observed eating grass
  • 91% of the time, cats appear in good health before eating grass
  • 27% of cats vomit frequently after eating grass or other foliage1

This shows that nearly all cats eat grass – and are typically A-OK when doing so. A widely-believed (but not 100% accurate) explanation for why cats eat grass is that it helps them vomit if they got sick or poisoned. But that’s not always the case. The researchers found that, after eating grass, most cats do not throw it up – or show any signs of illness1. Cats can be purrfectly healthy, and still eat grass. So that brings us to the question – why do cats eat grass anyway?

Why do cats eat grass?

In short, cats eat grass because its comes naturally to them and can support their health – in the same way eating leafy greens helps us humans stay healthy.

Here are 5 reasons why cats eat grass:

  1. Cats actually lack the stomach enzymes needed to break down and digest grass. As a result, it sometimes… comes back up. And together with it comes other stuff they can’t digest, like hairballs or inedible parts of prey such as fur or bones. We know, eww. But it’s good for them!
  2. The fiber found in grass supports digestion and can help relieve constipation.
  3. Anxious or stressed cats may find that chomping on grass helps calm their nerves. A bit like chewing gum for felines.
  4. Cats may eat grass as a source of vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid (B9), that they may not be getting elsewhere.
  5. Eating grass may help your cat get rid of internal parasites (or at least, this may be a leftover instinct from your cat’s ancestors)2.

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When to be concerned about your cat eating grass

If your cat is eating grass every day or vomiting blood, there is definitely cause for concern.

⚠️ Warning: Munching on grass every day might indicate problems with your cat’s digestive system.

The more trouble they have digesting their food, the more they will crave grass in an attempt to clear it out. On the other hand, your feline might, eventually, stop eating altogether.

Find out what to do if your cat won’t eat.

Note: If your cat is vomiting blood, it is possible that they’ve ingested toxins, possibly in the form of pesticides or other chemicals found outside. Should this be the case, don’t hesitate and take them to the vet ASAP!

Cat eating grass? 3 tips to keep them safe

Even though your cat eating grass on occasion is generally no cause for concern, there are certain steps you should take to ensure your cat’s safety.

1. Beware of pesticides.

If you have a garden (a.k.a. your cat’s mini-empire) make sure it’s a cat-friendly one:

  • make sure not to use any insecticides or herbicides
  • check for any toxic plants that might be growing there (more on that below)

2. Provide cat grass at home.

If your cat is used to roaming the whole neighborhood, it gets trickier to avoid pesticides and other dangers. A good tip? Don’t let them eat anything and everything they come across.

Of course, that’s much easier said than done. A better option is providing cat grass at home, which you know is safe to eat.

Is it healthy for cats to eat grass

Cat grass seeds, usually oat, barley or wheat, should be available at most pet stores. You can also grow it yourself in pots or outside – a fancy alternative to the greens sprouting next to busy roads or on dog-marked territory.

3. Keep your cat away from toxic plants.

If you keep your cat indoors, make sure to provide them with cat grass as well and remove all toxic plants that they might nibble on. Whether your cat spends a lot of time outdoors or indoors, it’s useful to know this list of common toxic plants:

  • Amaryllis
  • Dieffenbachia (also known as Dumb Cane)
  • Lilies
  • Heartleaf Philodendron (also known as horsehead philodendron)
  • Aloe plant
  • Sago palm

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The list goes on, so make sure all your plants are non-toxic to cats before bringing them home.

What is a good alternative to offering cats eating grass?

Now that you know why cats eat grass (and throw up grass), you know they’re just keeping themselves healthy.

However, safer is always better. That’s why, as mentioned, it’s a good idea to look into cat grass, which is definitely safer and can satisfy your cat’s appetite for grass.

If your cat has a habit of wandering far from home, looking for snacks, then it’s a good idea to keep track of them with the help of a GPS cat tracker.

You’ll also be able to see where they’ve been on the map, which can help you mark out areas to watch out for.

Track My Cat

Top reasons why your cat is eating grass

Simply put, cats eat grass because it comes naturally to them. It’s an instinct ingrained in them long ago by their ancestors. Eating grass has a number of health benefits, which helps to explain why even our domestic kittens like to munch on the green stuff.

A quick summary of why your cat is eating grass, you say? You’re welcome 😉

Like what you’ve read? Share it with your cat-loving friends!

— Update: 14-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Cats Eating Grass: Good, Bad, Both? from the website www.intermountainpet.com for the keyword is it healthy for cats to eat grass.

Cats eat grass. It’s a known fact. And if you are a pet parent to a frisky feline, you’ve probably wondered why bother buying organic or premium cat food if they’re going to turn and eat the grass you mowed yesterday. Okay, most of us don’t buy the gourmet stuff, but even well rounded diet from a reputable company will put a small dent in most budgets.

Why do cat’s eat grass if they have tasty kibble, canned wet food, or even homemade cat food in the house? We’ll go over the three most common theories of why cats each grass.

Basic Instinct

A group of scientists reported their findings of research done on chimps and other wild animals that ate grass to expel parasites out of their intestines and other parts of their digestive system.  It’s theorized that cats eat grass out of evolutionary need. Once upon a time when cats were just as wild as chimps, they ate grass for the same reason. Most cats don’t need to anymore due to their regulated diet from their humans, gourmet or not.

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Natural Laxative

Cats don’t have the right enzymes in their stomachs to digest grass and other vegetation. Instead, grass will stimulate the stomach and intestinal muscles to move the unwanted blades of grass, and other non-digestible matter, thus causing your feline to throw-up after chowing down on the green vegetation.

It’s believed for a long time that cats eat grass to help with clear only items that they have ingested but can’t break down in their stomach. This includes bird feathers, bones, cat hair, or any other material that is bothering their stomach.

There is also another possibility that when cats eat grass, it adds fiber to help pass worms that may be in their intestinal tracks.  Again, another method of cleaning out their digestive system.

Like Momma’s Milk

Grass contains folic acid, the same as what is in their momma’s milk. This vitamin is an essential part for producing hemoglobin, a protein that helps a cat’s blood carry oxygen throughout its body. When that milk is no longer available, a cat instinctively knows where else they can get folic acid when their body needs it.

What Can You Do to Keep Your Cat Safe?

  • Grow a patch of grass in your home for your cat. That way you know it’s not covered in dangerous fertilizers or wild animal droppings that could be infected.
  • Growing a small amount of catnip is another option for your cat. Not only will your kitty possibly do some “America’s Funniest Home Videos” worthy behavior, but they’ll also satisfy their need for the green munchies.
  • Make sure all of the plants in your home are not poisonous to your pet. You can check out our guide When Pets and Plants Don’t Mix.Is it healthy for cats to eat grass
  • If you do let your cat outside, make sure to use a pet-friendly fertilizer and weed control spray.
  • Keep your kitty’s vaccinations up-to-date. If your fur-baby comes in contact with an infected or sick wild animal (think bat, mice, birds), you’ll want them protected as much as possible.

While finding the remnants of your kitty’s grass-nibbling snacks are less than pleasant, it’s worth noting that they were trying to get some extra fiber, folic acid, or relieving an upset stomach. It’s is worth mentioning that if your cat is displaying any other odd behaviors other than throwing up, contact your veterinarian right way to schedule an examination.


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About the Author: Tung Chi