So, you let your cat outside, and you notice that he or she digs into a hearty helping of a feline salad (grass). Some hooman pets feel the inclination to stop their cats mid-bite, but we mustn’t do that! In fact, many vets not only encourage us to allow our babies to eat grass, but to grow special beds of grass just for them and have it available at all times.
The major questions for us hoomans is, “Why do cats eat grass, anyway? Is it due to a lack of vitamins and/or nutrients? Do they enjoy the whole throwing-up-afterward thing? What gives?”
The short answer? None of us know any one simple answer, at least, not for certain. However, both vets and cat hooman pets collectively discovered several potential reasons. Although we cannot agree for certain on the ‘why,’ allowing cats to indulge in that strange-to-hoomans-salad at least brings us all to “What now?”
Although this is fairly uncommon, sometimes, a dehydrated feline will eat blades of grass (especially recently watered or during the cooler months) for the juice contained within. While this (obviously) does not provide adequate hydration, it can soothe the “cosmetic” symptoms of hydration (i.e.: scratchy throat, dry lips and/or nose, etc.).
Cats have very sensitive tummies, which means equally sensitive (and easily irritated) digestive tracts. That means it takes little to almost nothing for our fur babies to become constipated. For those who aren’t aware, constipation can quickly become detrimental to our cat’s overall health, and in some cases, even fatal. However, it seems that grass, particularly kinds with wider-blades, has a laxative effect for felines. While they cannot digest grass, they absorb this “laxative of nature,” which allows them to potty with greater ease. However, if you notice your cat becoming “stopped up” frequently, or that he or she eats a great deal of grass, but still has difficulty using the bathroom, be sure to consult with a vet. Long-term or frequent constipation is dangerous, as we mentioned earlier, so early treatment is crucial to your cat’s health!
More outdoor cat hoomans notice this than indoor ones, but cats often eat grass to ease difficulty in digestion. We often don’t realize this, but our cats, whenever they actually eat the prey they stalk, ingest the ENTIRE carcass. That, of course, includes flesh, bones, and all the other unmentionable inedible parts. This stuff, if left to fester in your cat’s stomach and intestines, can do permanent damage, or even kill him or her. However, grass contains elements that, even though cats rarely keep down the green blades, trickle down the intestinal tract and help break down these indigestible materials, so that your cat can pass and get rid of them normally.
If your cat does not partake of these feline delights, but still eats as much grass as you allow him or her to eat, the problem may involve hairballs. If you’ve been owned by a cat for any length of time, you know exactly what we mean! Hairballs, just like prey carcass, are indigestible, which means that they can build up slowly in your baby’s tummy. They create not only problems holding down food, but also more constipation issues, as well. So, indoor cats may suddenly begin bolting outdoors any time the door is open for more than two seconds, or chewing on indoor plants every chance they get, despite the lack of living prey in their diets.
Many hoomans believe it is normal for cats to cough up hairballs, and in most cases, we’re correct! However, if your cat’s appetite (for normal cat food) diminishes drastically, while their appetite for grass and plants increases, especially if they aren’t throwing up much despite all the grass-eating, consult your vet right away. That may mean that your cat has a large fur buildup in his or her tummy that obstructs any food passage/digestion both ways. Severe cases of this condition often result in life-saving surgery to remove the blockage, and early detection can save your cat’s life, as well as a great deal of time and money!
Words of Caution
While eating grass is good for cats, eating ALL grass and/or plants is not. The grass on our beautiful, well-maintained lawns may have invisible coatings of bug killer/repellants, growth hormones, or other dangerous chemicals that, if ingested by our babies, harms them. Also, some plants are very poisonous, especially to animals. So, to ensure that you cat does not eat something that can make him or her ill, try growing a small patch of grass indoors. Many pet shops and online stores sell these grass patches, or at least the starter kits. This small investment could save you in more ways than you know, and save your cat in ways all cat lovers can appreciate!
Cat Grass Stories, Anyone?
If you, or someone you know has a story about cats and grass eating habits, let us know!