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You’re out on the trail with your cat, enjoying the sights and smells, and then you notice your cat has paused by the nearest patch of grass and is now munching away. Is this a behavior that should be stopped? Is it safe for cats to eat grass? Should it be encouraged? We’re here to help.
Why do cats eat grass?
We’ve observed that many cats love to nibble on grass, but the cat community has come to one simple conclusion about why they do it- we don’t know. Grass isn’t necessary for a nutritionally complete diet, but the cats in our lives are telling us that it’s a fun addition. Perhaps cats eat grass just like we eat ice cream- because it tastes good, or has a pleasant texture.
Other speculations abound. Some suggest that the high fiber content in grass aids digestion. Others believe the grass contains concentrations of vitamins that are lacking in the cat’s regular diet, such as vitamins B, C, and K. It is also thought that cats use the the grass as a natural emetic, to help bring up distressing hairballs.
Whatever the reason, the consumption of most grasses is harmless to cats. If your cat enjoys it, you may consider growing a pot of a designated cat grass at home. Unfortunately, unless you live in a rural environment, much of the grass growing outdoors has been treated with pesticides and herbicides which can harm your cat if consumed.
Just what is this so-called cat grass? You may have noticed that there are a number of different seed varieties for sale, each claiming to be cat grass. Though confusing at first, cat grass is simply a label used on the many grasses which are safe for cats to consume. A number of cereal grasses are sold as cat grasses; wheat grass, oat grass, barley, and ryegrass are just a few varieties that fall under this umbrella. When young, these tender grasses are crisp and appealing to most cats, and don’t present any danger. They are easy to grow at home in a small pot without much effort or extra space. Now what do we really know about cat grass?
Cat grass may deter your cat from eating other houseplants.
If your cat is a natural born nibbler, then you know how annoying it can be to have your houseplants destroyed by your cat’s fascination with greenery. This fascination with eating plants can change from annoying to seriously dangerous in the case your cat ingests a harmful houseplant (For a list of common plants that are dangerous to cats, please click here) . Providing a safe, harmless alternative like cat grass is a great way to keep your cat’s plant eating urges satisfied.
Grass induces vomiting- good or bad?
For cats, grass works as a natural emetic (or vomit inducer). Cats lack the digestive enzymes necessary in order to break down plant matter, according to PetMD, and after eating a large amount of grass, it will simply come back up in an undigested form. While it’s unsavory to find a vomit surprise somewhere in the house, it may actually be helpful to your cat for relieving troublesome hairballs or possible stomach discomfort. Usually cats will only regurgitate a small bit of grass and clearish liquid, and it’s not cause for concern.
Mature grass can be dangerous.
Many of the cereal grasses that fall into the cat grass category grow awns (a stiff, bristle like appendage on the grass), which if consumed by your cat, can be dangerous due to their sharp nature. However, cat grass, when grown in a pot, rarely reaches maturity, and your cat can eat it in complete safety.
Ready to grow your own cat grass at home?
Here are some starter kits for easy growing in your own home: