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Why is my cat eating grass, and is it safe?

“Lil’ Bub,” a four-year-old yellow and white indoor cat, chows down on some freshly grown oat grass that his owners keep inside their home.

JOPLIN, Mo. — If you let your cat roam the outdoors, or you take care of an indoor cat colony, you might notice them gnawing on some greens.

The good news is that this is normal and many cats definitely like to eat grass.

But why would an animal that doesn’t have the correct enzymes to properly digest plants, want to treat itself to grass?

The reasoning behind it is still a bit of a mystery, but here are four of the most popular hypotheses, including some of the best types of grass for your furry friend (for friends) to chew on:

Natural Laxative

Green contains fiber, which could act as a natural laxative.

Registered Veterinary Technician, Anna Crooks with Academy Animal Hospital in Joplin said that eating grass could help felines pass items that are having a difficult time in the GI tract, like furballs, worms, or even bones and feathers from prey that made it past the stomach and are in the intestines.

Based on a 2019 study, scientists feel the ability to get parasites out of the intestines is the main reason why cats eat grass.

Induce Vomiting

Crooks said that sometimes cats will eat some greens and then throw up.

One hypothesis is that grass can be consumed based on instinct to induce vomiting and expel any indigestible parts from a recent catch, like bone and feathers.

It could also be a way to get out a furball that’s hanging out in a cat’s stomach, or even parasites like roundworms, which can hang out in the stomach in bad infestations.

Folic Acid

Kidney and liver contain folic acid, but so do veggies and grass.

Folic acid is also in the milk from momma cats, so kittens start getting plenty of it immediately.

It helps with growth, digestion, DNA synthesis, and even helps produce hemoglobin (transports oxygen in the cat’s bloodstream).

A kitten without enough folic acid may have a stunted development. 

Most cats get enough folic acid in their food, but some do not, and run the risk of becoming anemic.

“It’s possible cats instinctively eat grass to increase their folic acid levels when needed. Indoor cats with a folic acid deficiency may need a prescription diet or folic acid supplement,” said Crooks.

Texture

Whenever a cat chews on anything, it can be for a variety of reasons, but they do seem to enjoy certain textures.

“It’s possible the texture of grass is just something they enjoy nibbling on,” Crooks added.

So, Is It Safe For My Cat To Eat Grass?

The answer is both yes and no.

Although a little grass every now and then is no problem, it can be dangerous if the grass has been treated with pesticide or fertilizers.

If you treat your lawn, use pet-friendly fertilizers; if you take your cat on walks, don’t let them eat the grass on properties you don’t know.

In the video below, Registered Veterinary Technician, Anna Crooks gives her professional opinion on letting your cat gnaw on grass:

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Instead of taking the risk and allowing your cat to eat anything outside, there are three specific types of grass seeds you can purchase from pet supply stores, which can then be grown in small to medium size planters.

Those considered to be the best grasses for both indoor and outdoor kitties are:

  • Wheat grass
  • Oat grass
  • Barley Grass

Registered Veterinary Technician, Anna Crooks said that not all “greens” are safe for cats to consume, and can actually cause severe harm or even death.

Crooks said that it’s best to stick to the recommended cat grasses, and make sure to keep your felines far away from these plants:

  • Tulips
  • Hyacinths
  • Azaleas
  • Daffodils
  • Aloe Vera
  • Eucalyptus
  • Mother & Law’s Tongue (also known as snake plant)
  • Philodendrons

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