Why Do Cats Eat Grass, and What Should You Do About It?

Written by Austin S.
Updated: October 14, 2022
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Cats sometimes seem to have a mind of their own and simply do what they want. This can lead to behavior that seems odd to humans, from eating grass to knocking objects off the table.

But why do cats eat grass? Cats may like the texture and taste, may need essential vitamins to carry oxygen through their bloodstream, or to treat a sore throat. They may also use it to induce vomiting or even as a laxative, of sorts.

Let’s look into these issues before delving into some suggestions on discouraging your cat from eating grass.

Do You Have to Worry About Your Cat Eating Grass?

First of all, it is not usually a concern if your cat is doing this. The exception is if your cat eats grass regularly and vomits afterward every time or nearly every time. Essentially, if your cat vomits at least once a week from eating this, consult your vet.

As long as your cat isn’t vomiting from eating the grass or showing other concerning symptoms, it is likely fine. You can still bring it up to your vet, but it can likely wait until the next checkup.

Watch Out for Excessive Sneezing

Keep in mind that there is a small risk that if cats that eat a lot it will get stuck inside their nasal chambers. This can lead to excessive sneezing. It will also require a trip to the vet to remove the grass.

Your Cat Is Not Alone

In a survey of 1,000 cat owners, 71% had caught their cat eating grass at least six times throughout their life. Only 11% had never seen their cats do this. In terms of vomiting, just a quarter of the cats that ate grass threw up afterward. On top of that, 91% of owners said their cats didn’t seem to feel sick after eating grass.

The bottom line from that survey is that your cat is not alone in its grass-eating habit.

Why Your Cat Eats Grass

Knowing that your cat eating grass is not typically a concern is itself good news. But it’s still helpful to know why it does so. After all, this will help you decide if your cat needs a checkup.

To Induce Vomiting

As mentioned, your cat may vomit afterward. If this happens regularly, you need to take your cat to the vet.

This is one of the reasons that cats eat grass, although it is far from the only one. Simply put, doing this can induce vomiting. Your cat knows that vomiting will help relieve an upset stomach. Vomiting can help your cat get non-digestible items out of its digestive systems, such as fur or feathers.

For reference, the reason that cats throw up afterward is that they don’t have the enzymes they need to break down this type of vegetable matter. That is a direct result of cats evolving to be carnivores or omnivores.

To Encourage Bowel Movements

Another way that grass can help with digestive discomfort in cats is by quickening bowel movements. Grass essentially acts as a laxative, encouraging bowel movements.

Cats know about this property, thanks to their evolution and predatory instincts. After all, remember that cats hunt birds, mice, and other small animals if given the opportunity or in the wild. But the feathers, fur, and bones are not always easy to digest. Cats have used grass to move these stubborn items through their digestive system for years.

Even if your cat doesn’t hunt small animals, it is almost a given that they groom themselves and end up with hairballs. While your cat regularly throws up hairballs, sometimes its body can’t push them through its digestive system or break them down. The grass will help in this situation as well.

To Get Vitamins and Nutrients

Another common reason cats will eat grass is to get more vitamins and nutrients. The most important nutrient in the grass for cats is folic acid. Folic acid moves oxygen in the bloodstream. It also helps with digestion, hemoglobin production, and cell growth. For reference, mother cats’ milk also contains folic acid.

It May Be a Natural Instinct From When Their Ancestors Had Parasites

Some research suggests that doing this helps cats and other animals get rid of intestinal parasites. This would be via its laxative and vomit-inducing effects. Most cats don’t have these intestinal parasites anymore, but they may have picked up the habit from their ancestors.

Maybe to Soothe Sore Throats

Some experts also say that cats soothe their sore throats with this behavior. However, there is still no evidence for this reason, and it remains just a theory.

They Like It

As with anything your cat eats or does, the answer to why they eat grass may be as simple as that they like it. Your cat may like the texture, the flavor, or both.

If Your Cat Eats Grass, Give It Safe Grass to Eat

Remember that your cat eating grass is not necessarily a bad thing, unless they vomit from it frequently. However, you want to make sure that the grass it eats hasn’t been treated with fertilizer or chemicals. This is a serious concern if your cat eats grass outside your property.

It should go without saying that if your cat eats grass containing fertilizer or other chemicals, this could potentially pose a risk.

Ideally, you can overcome this challenge by ensuring your cat has access to chemical-free grass or catnip. By doing this, you prevent the need for your cat to look for other grass to snack on, which would increase the risk of eating something dangerous.

And Make Sure Your Household Plants Are Cat-Safe

Cats are curious, so they may also nibble on your household plants if they get the opportunity. This could be for some similar reasons to eating grass or just curiosity. But you should prepare for this possibility and only bring non-toxic plants into your home.

Products to Encourage Your Cat to Stop Eating Grass

While eating grass isn’t necessarily bad for your cat, you may still want to deter the habit, at least with grass outside. After all, you can’t control whether your neighbors put fertilizers or chemicals to grow their grass.

It is also simply good pet care to address whatever underlying issue is causing your cat to eat grass. The following are some products that should help your cat stop eating grass, or at least address the most common reasons that it is doing so:

Choose Cat Food High in Seafood to Give Them Folic Acid

As mentioned, many cats will eat grass as a way to get folic acid. This crucial nutrient is important for numerous body functions, from oxygen flow to digestion. If your cat has a folic acid deficiency, consider giving cat food with a higher seafood content.

Taste of the Wild is an excellent brand choice, as there are several flavors to choose from, including many high in seafood. Even if you don’t choose a seafood-based one, the best Taste of the Wild cat foods also features added nutrients. You can also find a similar selection from Wholehearted cat foods.

Best Overall
Taste of the Wild Rocky Mountain Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Grain-free
  • Includes novel proteins such as venison and smoked salmon
  • Contains antioxidants from real fruits and veggies
  • Added probiotics for your cat's gut health
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Choose a Stool Softener to Overcome Digestive Issues

One of the major reasons that cats eat grass is to encourage digestion. But there are other ways to address this issue, such as with a stool softener. Giving your cat one of the best stool softeners will encourage its bowels to move along without resorting to eating grass.

Overall Best
Pet Naturals Daily Probiotic Cat Chews
  • Comes as a duck-flavored chew
  • The specialized strains of good bacteria will help your cat’s digestive system become more regular
  • Contains both probiotics and prebiotics to support your feline’s entire immune system
  • Contains GanedenBC30 that is verified as non-GMO by the Non-GMO Project
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Groom Your Cat With a Grooming Glove

Remember that hairballs are one of the potential causes of digestive issues that make your cat want to eat grass. If you can reduce the hairballs, you can prevent the desire to eat grass. The best strategy for this is to groom your cat regularly. You can use a comb to do so or one of the best cat grooming gloves. As a bonus, grooming your cat regularly will also help keep your home fur-free.

Overall Best
Pet Grooming Glove - Gentle Deshedding Brush
  • Removes loose hair without pulling it off
  • Hair simply sticks to the surface
  • Features high-quality silicone tips
  • Waterproof, can be used to wash your cat
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Let Your Cat Enjoy the Outdoors From a Cat Stroller or Backpack

A good way to lessen occasions when your cat does this is to cut off its access to grass. Keeping your cat inside can also prolong its life. But because you don’t let your cat roam free outside doesn’t mean it has to be inside all day.

Consider getting one of the best cat strollers to take your pet outside and do so safely. If your cat is securely in a stroller, it can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors. But your cat won’t be able to eat grass or chase small animals.

Best
PETIQUE All Terrain Dog & Cat Jogging Stroller, Sailboat
  • Features large bike tires for traction and shock absorption
  • Comes with plenty of windows
  • Made from high quality and durable materials
  • Comfortable two-position handle
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Another similar option is to choose one of the best pet backpacks. This type of bag is ideal for situations when you need to transport your cat rather than when you want to go for a leisurely stroll. However, many of these backpacks are versatile enough to do either.

Overall Best
“The Fat Cat” Cat Backpack for Larger Cats
  • Convenient mesh panels throughout for enough ventilation
  • A wide bubble on the front allows your cat to see the world around them
  • Roomy enough to hold up to 25 pounds
  • Shoulder straps are adjustable
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Conclusion

Cats eat grass for several reasons. They may want to encourage vomit or a bowel movement. It may be a natural instinct they got from their ancestors to get rid of intestinal parasites. Some cats may just like the taste and texture of grass. The good news is that eating grass isn’t bad for your cat, although it can indicate a nutritional need, like a folic acid deficiency. Address the potential issue to reduce your cat’s grass consumption, but don’t worry too much unless your cat vomits from eating grass more than once a week.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © George Popa/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

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Sources
  1. Greencross Vets, Available here: https://www.greencrossvets.com.au/pet-library/articles-of-interest/why-do-cats-eat-grass/
  2. PetMD, Available here: https://www.petmd.com/cat/wellness/evr_ct_eating_grass
  3. Science, Available here: https://www.science.org/content/article/mystery-solved-why-cats-eat-grass
  4. Purina, Available here: https://www.purina.co.uk/articles/cats/behaviour/understanding-cats/why-do-cats-eat-grass