My cat, Pogo, has been constipated for the last few days. His behavior borders a bit on the unusual. Instead of asking for breakfast first thing in the morning, he asks to go outside. Why? He wants to eat grass. It evokes the question — Why is my cat eating grass?
Studies Point To Some Answers
Researchers have studied this question for some time, and have come up with some interesting answers. For one thing, why would a cat eat something, only to throw it up a few minutes later? He must have a good reason. One study group conducted a survey of pet owners of 1,000 cats, who spent at least three hours a day at home with their pet.
Of this group, 71% of them say they have caught their cat in the act of eating grass. Interestingly, only about a quarter of the grass-eaters actually vomited afterward.
The vomiting represents only an occasional by-product of eating grass, and does not become the initial objective of the cat. However, this vomiting can help cats expel hair balls, perhaps some intestinal parasites, or non-digestible pieces of some critter they ate. In this case, the vomiting aids the cat.
The reason a cat might regurgitate relates to their digestive system. They lack the necessary enzyme that breaks down vegetable matter. They may not enjoy vomiting, but eliminating all that indigestible matter from their stomach can make them feel much better.
What Needs Does Grass-Eating Fill For A Cat?
So, what can we find in the grass that fills a need of the cat? Well, like a mother cat’s milk, the grass contains folic acid. This ingredient supplies a vitamin essential to the cat’s bodily functions.
The folic acid assists in the production of hemoglobin, the protein that moves oxygen in the blood.
Another theory, which fits well with Pogo’s constipation problem, postulates that the grass acts as a natural laxative. This theory would certainly explain why the cat wanted out every day to eat a bit of it. He must realize that the grass contains something to help him feel better.
Though eating the grass did not alleviate Pogo’s constipation, that action, plus the added information that he’d had no bowel movement for a couple of days, alerted me to his problem. Fortunately, I had a bit stronger laxative on hand given to me by our vet, and used that to help him over his problem.
Gratitude For Expert Assistance
My wonderful vet came by yesterday with a new portion of laxative and a powdered kind to put in his food. Nice, that she could come over, as my car currently resides in the mechanic’s shop. She assured me Pogo seemed okay, and to keep her posted of new developments.
Let me insert a note of appreciation here: I am so happy that we finally have a vet in our little town. Dr. Schaff has gone a long way to relieving any anxieties I have about my kitty, and I worry much less knowing she is here. I hope she and her husband stay in Gustavus forever.
Avoid Grass Treated With Pesticides Or Fertilizers
A word of caution: If your cat eats grass outside, make sure it has not received treatment from pesticides or fertilizers. These ingredients can potentially harm your cat, so you should be positive that the grass he eats is safe.
You can make sure your cat ingests only safe plants by creating a small grazing area for her. You can purchase seed for feline herbs and greens. The latter are usually wheat or oat grass. These come prepackaged at pet supply stores. You may purchase seeds or pre-sprouted plants.
Easy to grow, they will give you peace of mind, as you will know these home-grown grasses are safe for kitty. I used to grow grass from seeds for my last cat, Carlos. When getting them started, I had to put them in a spot where the cat could not get to them. He didn’t want to wait until they grew up fully, but would eat them as soon as they emerged from the soil if he could.
You can also grow fresh catnip which your kitty will love. Put the catnip in a private planter in a spot easily accessible to your cat. She will enjoy munching on these as well.
If you need a source for grass seeds or sprouts, check out this post on my website, “Why Is My Cat Eating Grass?” The post provides information and a link to the place where you can purchase these items.
Eating fresh grass can add fiber and bulk to your kitty’s diet, as well as helping him pass worms or fur through his intestinal tract. Broader-leafed grass varieties might prove better for a laxative effect, while thin-leafed grass could more readily induce the cat to vomit.
Tums For A Kitty
Cats must realize that something in the grass will settle their stomachs. It becomes a “Tums” for the kitty tummy. They chew on the leaves and ingest the healthy juice. Possibly they like the taste and texture of the grass as well, though these may be only part of their reason for ingesting the plant.
Though eating grass can cause mild stomach upset, which explains the vomiting, grass in itself is not dangerous for your kitty to eat. Just make sure there’s been no lawn fertilizer, weed killer, pesticides, or other chemicals used on the lawn, as these could be quite dangerous to the cat, even in very small amounts.
Learn The Toxic Plants, Indoors And Outdoors
Know, too, that although grass will not endanger your cat, many other plants can prove quite toxic to your fur babies. Know what plants, both in your yard or in your house, are dangerous for kitty to consume.
Some of the most dangerous outside plants include all types of lilies, autumn crocus, azaleas rhododendron, oleander, cyclamen and daffodils. Inside, make sure you keep only non-toxic plants, greenery, or flowers.
Usually, a cat will self-monitor how much grass she eats. However, if you notice the cat eating large amounts of grass and suffering excess stomach upset, limit her grass intake to just a few times a week.
Pogo knew he had a digestive problem. He felt that snacking on some of the grass in the yard would give him relief. His grass-munching gave me the first signal that he had a digestive issue. Pay attention to your cat and see if you can determine why he acts in certain ways. If you can understand, it will help you care for him and keep him well and safe.
References I used for this post are as follows: