You've probably seen your cat eating grass before. Surprising for a carnivorous animal isn't it? Yet this behavior is useful to him. Why ? Let's find out!
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Is it OK for my cat to eat grass?
Consuming small amounts of weed is normal and natural for cats, so you shouldn’t be concerned about it.
In most cases, cats are able to regulate the amount of weed they eat on their own. However, it would be safer to consult your veterinarian if your cat’s eating habits or behaviors suddenly change.
If you notice that your cat has a sudden fascination with grass or begins to eat it more often than usual, your vet may be able to verify that this change is not caused by an underlying health condition.
The scientific reason behind plant eating in cats
According to a recent study about the characterization of plant-eating in cats:
Regular plant eating by domestic carnivores is a reflection of an innate predisposition of regular plant eating by wild ancestors which is supported by numerous reports of wild carnivores eating plants, as shown mostly by the non-digestible grass and other plant parts seen in their scats.Benjamin L. Hart & al. the characterization of plant eating in cats, the 53th congress of the International Society for Applied Ethology in Bergen, Norway.
Other studies conducted on wild animals, especially primates revealed that grass-eating helps maintain an acceptable level of parasites (helminths) in the digestive system assuming that all wild animals have digestive parasites.
The hairs ingested during “self-grooming sessions” form clumps in the digestive system, called trichobezoars.
In most cases, those hairballs are usually evacuated spontaneously with no problem. However, sometimes they may clog the stomach and cause digestive problems of varying severity.
The blades of grass your cat swallows will wrap around the trichobezoars accumulated in the stomach and form balls that can be easily eliminated through vomit.
Eating grass thus acts as a digestive regulator, that’s why I strongly recommend you provide indoor grass to your cats especially if they don’t have access to a garden.
Another reason often mentioned is that the grass helps to relieve the irritated stomach of the cat after digestive disorders, thanks to its emetic action (not necessarily aimed towards eliminating hairballs).
If a cat ingests a food he cannot digest, he will resort to the grass for its calming virtues on the one hand, but also to trigger vomiting.
This is especially true for cats that go outside to hunt small animals (rodents, birds) whose bones and feathers (non-assimilable elements) cannot be digested, which need to be expelled by vomiting.
Likewise, the grass would have a laxative effect on the cat, allowing the animal to defecate regularly and regulate the presence of such elements in the digestive tract, and prevent the accumulation of non-digestible elements.
Balancing dietary deficiencies
Although cats are carnivorous animals, grass can provide them with certain fibers and vitamins they cannot draw from their usual diet.
Among these elements, experts cite folic acid, a chemical that helps in the production of hemoglobin.
Even though most industrial cat food nowadays contains many added nutrients, your cat’s instinct will lead him to consume grass, so make sure to protect your houseplants!
Grass… for fun!
While the commercial “cat grass” is selected for its high fiber constitution, the real “cat grass” (also known as catnip) acts exactly as a drug on your cat! This perennial plant of the mint family produces emissions of nepetalactone to protect itself from insect attacks.
And cats are highly attracted by those emanations!
However, the composition of this substance is similar to that of LSD … Accordingly, if your cat rubs against catnip plants, roll around in them, or happens to lick them, the plant will act like a drug capable of putting him in a state of ecstasy for several minutes, because it releases pheromones of pleasure in the brain!
Should I prevent my cat from eating grass?
You don’t need to stop your cat from eating weed, but you can frame this behavior to make it safer.
Outdoors, you don’t know what types of products have been used on the lawn unless it’s your own which means that your cat may accidentally eat grass treated with chemicals or fertilizers that are very harmful to his health.
If your cat loves weed, you need to consider offering him a safer alternative, to consume indoors.
You will find many sets on the market to grow wheatgrass or oat grass, especially for your companion. You can even grow a home garden for your pet
And more importantly, beware of certain toxic flowers such as the crocus or the philodendron, they can endanger your fur’s life, please check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants.
On the other hand, even if your cat likes to eat grass, it is not an essential part of their diet.
Above all, make sure to buy high-quality cat food that will provide him with a complete and balanced diet.
If you are worried that your cat might eat weed outside, consider monitoring him during his outings. Some cats even like to go for walks on a leash like dogs.
How to provide my cat with grass?
When cats have access to the outdoors, they can find and ingest grass by themselves. It is also not uncommon to see a cat take breaks during his walks to eat a few sprigs.
But for indoor cats who cannot find grass in their environment, it is important to provide them with enough fiber to prevent any risk of stomach clogging.
You can do this by placing pots of grass directly in your feline’s living space.
Fortunately, you can find a large variety of formulas in the market nowadays, ranging from premade pots to seeds to sow and grow. It’s up to you to choose the type that suits you best.
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