Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

white cat eating grass outside

There are a few potential reasons why cats eat grass, including for dietary benefits, its natural laxative effects and its ability to relieve an upset stomach.  

Of course, every cat owner has witnessed their cat eating grass occasionally and wondered, “why does my cat eat grass?” As it turns out, most cats will eat grass from time to time for one reason or another.  

This behavior isn’t unique to house cats; wild cats and even their relative, the lion, have been known to graze on grass as well. As unpalatable as grass may be for us humans, your cat has a few good reasons to eat it.  

Cats Eat Grass to Supplement Their Diet

Grass juice contains folic acid, which is also found in their mother’s milk, and is an essential vitamin that aids in digestion, supports cell growth and helps with the production of hemoglobin. Cats are sometimes drawn to eating grass in an attempt to counteract vitamin deficiency.  

If you’re worried this may be the case, it’s a good idea to reach out to your veterinarian to ensure your cat is getting a complete and balanced cat food to support their everyday needs.  

Grass Works as a Natural Laxative for Cats

Like people, cats can run into certain digestive issues. In these instances, cats sometimes eat grass to help them break down and pass things like fur from grooming to ease constipation.  

Grass Relieves Upset Stomach in Cats

If you’ve ever witnessed a cat eating grass and throwing up, you might be surprised to know they’re likely doing it on purpose. Cats don’t have the necessary enzymes to digest a large amount of grass, which is why it can make them sick.  

In the process of throwing up the grass, your cat will likely clear their stomach of other things like fur, feathers, parasites or bones, which can irritate the digestive tract or even cause more serious problems.  

When your cat eats grass, they will typically self-regulate the amount. If the grass has been treated with pesticides or fertilizers, keep your cat away from it. Instead, consider growing grass indoors for your cat. If you decide to grow indoor grass, specialty retailers sell wheat or oat grass kits designed for in-home use. 

Some Cats Just Like Eating Grass

As many cat owners will tell you, there isn’t always an apparent rhyme or reason to some of their unusual behavior. In some cases, cats eat grass simply because they enjoy it and maybe enjoy having a few more greens in their diet.  

If that’s the case, you can see if they like having vegetables like parsley or lettuce added to their daily meals. Another idea might be giving your cat a food with higher fiber content.  

Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Grass?

It’s okay for cats to eat grass in moderation, as long as it hasn’t been treated with pesticides or herbicides. If your cat eats grass often, however, it could get stuck in their nasal chambers and cause them to sneeze excessively. If this happens, you’ll need to contact your veterinarian immediately to have it manually removed. Grass can also get stuck in the digestive tract.  

If your cat is in the habit of snacking on plants and grass, it’s essential to make sure all of your houseplants are non-toxic. Certain popular houseplants can be toxic to cats, including Poinsettias and Lilies. These two and several others are poisonous to cats and can cause a mild or even severe reaction.  

If your cat ingests a poisonous plant, always take them to the veterinarian for treatment or call the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at: (888) 426-4435. They’re available 24/7, including holidays, though they may charge a fee for any services provided.  

If you want to ensure your cat is only eating grass that’s safe, you can purchase pots of grass, which will give your cat a personal patch to graze on. This will not only satisfy their need to nibble on grass, but it can also prevent them from chomping on your favorite houseplants.  

Get more information and advice from our pet experts, visit our Pet Expertise page.

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