Does your kitty have the habit of snacking on grass? Should that bother you or make you worried that something else is happening and that your feline companion doesn’t just have a personal preference for the green stuff?
In this article, we will look at some of the reasons cats eat grass, and we’ll also tell you what things you ought to look for to make sure that your cat leads a happy and healthy life, with or without any grass munching.
Sometimes, in the wild, cats used to eat grass right after having ingested their prey. Why’s that? The grass is very likely to help with the digestion of the meat, especially when the feeding is performed once every several days when the wild cat finally has the luck to make a kill.
Needless to say, the animal engorges itself with as much food as possible so as to make sure that over the next couple of days, it has plenty of energy. As all of us know, eating a lot of food at once can lead to indigestion, and the fiber present in the grass can ensure that the meat is properly digested. Also, it can help the cat get rid of the indigestible parts of the prey by causing the vomiting reflex.
Cats are known for their grooming habits, and this is actually one sign that pet parents can use to tell whether their companion is feeling alright or not. When a cat’s grooming habits stop, you should go to the vet right away as that’s a sign that something really bad is going on.
The problem with grooming is that hairballs are developed, especially given the anatomy of the feline tongue, which is equipped with small hook-like structures that more or less act as a brush. Ingesting grass makes the cat vomit, and so it is an effective way of removing the hairballs.
Brushing your cat regularly will prevent the development of hairballs, and so you’ll notice that your cat won’t feel as tempted to snack on grass as he or she did before.
Folic acid and minerals
It’s quite challenging for a carnivore like a cat to get the right minerals and vitamins only from meat. To aid their digestion and support cell growth, cats need vitamin B9 (also known as folic acid). For kittens, the source of the folic acid consists of their mother’s milk. However, there aren’t many other sources that a cat can use to get folic acid, and if the animal isn’t getting enough, he or she can develop anemia. In case you didn’t know, grass juice contains a good amount of the vitamin, along with many other minerals.
Grass also contains niacin, vitamins A and D, as well as chlorophyll, which is said to oxygenate the blood.
There have been no particular studies performed in this sense, however, so the assumption about the folic acid and your cat’s natural way of knowing where to get it is just that — an assumption.
The fact of the matter is that grass does have a good deal of vitamins and minerals, and if it comes from a trusted source (such as the one you’ve planted yourself), there’s absolutely nothing preventing your cat from getting a little extra nutrients by munching on it from time to time.
If your cat eats too much grass and does it extremely often and even tries munching on your other houseplants, you may have a problem. If you’ve ever heard of stress eating before, you probably know that it can affect many people. But what you might not know is that our cats can have the same disorder, and so whenever stress hits, your feline companion needs an outlet.
It might be because you’ve introduced another cat to your household or you’ve recently gotten a dog. It might also be because your schedule doesn’t allow you to spend that much time with your cuddly little friend anymore. These, as well as many other events, can represent stressful situations for your pet.
To soothe themselves, cats will try doing a lot of things from constantly grooming to excessive vocalization. And yes, finding something to chew on can give them the momentary relief they need to forget about the anxiety they normally feel.
Other signs that this might be the issue is aggressive behavior or withdrawing from family members. If you’ve noticed all of these behavioral representations, get in touch with your vet.
When eating grass can be unhealthy
Adults love to snack on grass, but it is recommended that you avoid offering it to kittens before they are at least four months old. Sure, they will try to eat anything, but it’s better to leave the digestive tract to develop fully and only then introduce grass into the cat’s diet.
Another note that we must make is that not all types of grass are safe for cats. Some of your indoor plants can be poisonous, so keeping them in areas where they can’t be reached by your pets is mandatory. Even aloe vera is toxic, so we recommend checking out a list of the most dangerous plants and flowers on the ASPCA website.
So, if you take your cat out on a harness, don’t let him or her eat any type of grass. Besides, the one outdoors can be filled with pesticides, so it is better for you to plant your own cat grass in a pot and leave the animal to snack freely on that. At least you know it’s entirely safe.
Snacking on grass isn’t unhealthy as long as it happens under circumstances where you can be certain that the grass hasn’t been treated with any chemicals that might harm your cat. Grass contains vitamins A, D, and B9, and the latter is important to cats because, without it, they would develop anemia.
For cats, eating grass can be a way of stimulating their vomiting reflex to get rid of something bad they ate or just hairballs. If it doesn’t occur excessively, this habit is perfectly healthy. Most cats will go for days without even feeling tempted by a grass patch.