If cats have been part of your family for a long time, you know that they are obligatory carnivores. That said, their survival depends on having meat in their diet. The first time you saw your little carnivore gnaw on grass or other vegetation may have shocked you as much as I did when I first saw it. What is this obsession for some cats with eating grass? And why do some cats even eat grass if they just vomit it up again?
Are you sick
Benjamin L. Hart, DVM, and a team of researchers from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine were also curious. In a 2008 study, they hypothesized that cats ate plants as normal behavior that they inherited from their wild ancestors to help eradicate parasites. In fact, one of the sources that Dr. Hart cited, “Cougar Diets in Utah and Nevada,” published in the Journal of Wildlife Management in July 1959, the results of plant material in pumakot.
After a survey of over 2,000 pet parents, Dr. Hart and his team found that cats do not appear sick before consuming weed and do not vomit regularly afterwards. Dr. Hart concluded that eating grass in cats is not a sign of disease, that it is normal, and that they inherited the trait from their wild ancestors.
Dr. Hart led another digital survey of 1,000+ cat parents in 2019.
and the results confirmed his earlier results. He and his team observed that 71% of cats ate plants at least six times during their lifetime, 61% of cats ate vegetation at least ten times, and 11% of cats did not eat plants. So not all cats do eat plants, but most of them do. What surprised the researchers was that 91% of the cats showed no signs of illness prior to consuming plants.
They presented the results of this survey at the Conference of the International Society of Applied Ethology 2019 in Bergen, Norway.
How much is too much
Of the four cats I have cared for in my adult life, two ate grass and any other vegetation to dig their teeth into. That’s why I kept certain plants, particularly lilies, out of my house. My other two cats never ate plants.
“Cats eat grass just because they like the taste,” says Dr. Gary Norsworthy, a board certified cat specialist at the Alamo Feline Health Center in San Antonio, Texas. “It is not the cat’s desire or need to clean itself. Some grasses are tastier than others, and the tasty ones are often preferred only when there’s plenty of rain (or a good sprinkler system) because they’re luscious and tastier. “
Best cat grasses to buy and grow
Providing house cats with plenty of safe, non-toxic vegetation can help keep them away from your other house plants. ASPCA’s Guide to Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants is a comprehensive list that you must review before purchasing a plant for your home. For example, one plant that shouldn’t have a cat house is some type of lily.
You can grow cat-safe weed indoors. This type of grass is not the same as turf grass, which can contain harmful pesticides.
You can find 100% organic, non-genetically modified weed in pet stores, online, and at various retailers. You can also grow it yourself from seeds that you can buy anywhere you can find home and gardening supplies.
Types of cat grass include:
Pet stores sell cat grass kits that contain these different types of grass. From seeds, these grasses begin to sprout in a few days and can be ready to eat for your cat in a few weeks. The best weed will depend on your cat’s preferences.
Connected: Why are cats crazy about catnip?
There is one thing to note here, however. Most types of grass are not digestible for cats, warns Dr. Norsworthy.
A little grass adds fiber to a cat’s diet, which can aid digestion and reduce hairballs. The chlorophyll can even freshen a cat’s breath. However, cats lack the enzyme needed to digest large amounts of grass, which leads to vomiting. Worse, too much grass can be dangerous.
“A few years ago we had an operation on a cat with an intestinal obstruction,” recalls Dr. Norsworthy. The obstacle turned out to be a bundle of grass. Although the cat never went outside, at the end of each day his caretaker would pull a handful of grass on the way into the house. That was too much grass for the cat.
As with treats, experts recommend that cat grass should make up no more than 10% of a cat’s total caloric intake.
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Continue reading: Gardening With Cats: How To Create A Pet Friendly Garden