Why Is Kitty Grazing? The Surprising Reason Cats Eat Grass


Cat owners have found their feline friends curiously nibbling on grass for centuries. This unusual behavior often perplexes pet parents, who wonder why an obligate carnivore would willingly munch on plants. While cats eating grass may seem odd, it’s actually a very common phenomenon. In fact, studies show over half of domestic cats actively eat grass. But the question still remains – why do cats eat grass? In this article, we’ll explore the leading theories behind this peculiar habit and provide tips on preventing potentially harmful grass grazing.

Theories on Why Cats Eat Grass

There are several theories as to why domestic cats are driven to eat grass.

One of the most common beliefs is that cats eat grass to aid their digestion. The fiber found in grass may help move food through the gastrointestinal tract more quickly. Cats’ bodies struggle to digest plant material, so the grass may add roughage that assists with waste elimination.

Similarly, some speculate that cats eat grass for the added fiber it provides in their diet. Cats’ natural prey typically does not offer much fiber, so cats may eat grass to make up for this deficit and promote regularity.

Another widely held theory is that cats eat grass when they are feeling nauseous and needing to vomit. The grass may irritate the throat and stomach, triggering the cat’s vomiting reflex. Thus, eating grass could be a sign your cat has an upset stomach and needs to clear it.

In addition to fiber, grass can provide nutrients like folic acid, enzymes, and trace minerals. Your cat may instinctively eat grass to supplement its diet with these vital compounds. However, experts note cats would need to eat unusually large amounts of grass to gain significant nutrition.

Finally, some cats may eat grass out of boredom or as a learned behavior from their mothers. Kittens often mimic their mother’s eating habits, continuing to consume grass into adulthood. Grass-eating could also satisfy cats’ innate desire to chew on vegetation, similar to their wild relatives.

Nutritional Benefits of Grass

One of the key reasons cats eat grass is because it provides extra fiber and nutrients that support their digestion and overall health.

Grass is a good source of folic acid, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. These are nutrients that cats don’t always get enough of from their regular carnivorous diet that’s primarily based on animal proteins.

Eating grass can provide the extra fiber cats need for better digestive functioning. The fiber helps move hairballs and fur through their system more easily. Cats deliberately eat grass when they need help clearing swallowed hair from their stomach and intestines.

Additionally, the vitamins and nutrients in grass offer health advantages. Cats receive crucial amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins like vitamin A from grass. These nutrients may be lacking in commercial cat foods or all-meat diets.

So while meat satisfies cats’ protein requirements, grass delivers vital micronutrients, minerals, and fiber. This helps round out cats’ nutritional needs for optimal health.

Grass Helps Induce Vomiting

One common theory as to why cats eat grass is that it helps them vomit. Eating grass irritates a cat’s stomach and stimulates the vomiting reflex. This allows cats to regurgitate as a form of self-medication when they are feeling nauseous or have an upset stomach.

Grass contains fiber and roughage that may help trigger vomiting in cats. When cats graze on grass, the coarse texture and plant matter act as an irritant inside the stomach, which the cat’s body recognizes as something that needs to be expelled. The act of vomiting empties the stomach and brings up hairballs, toxins, or other substances causing discomfort.

It seems that cats instinctively know that eating grass will make them vomit. They purposefully chew on grass when they feel the need to clear their stomach and remove whatever is ailing them. So grass-eating allows cats a form of self-medication when they are not feeling well.

Instinctual Behavior

One reason cats may eat grass is due to their natural instincts and behaviors. Kittens often learn to nibble on grass by observing their mothers doing so. Grass eating may be an evolutionary holdover from when cats lived in the wild and foraged on grasses, plants, and prey. Even domestic housecats retain some of these wild instincts.

Exploratory nibbling or munching on grass is completely natural behavior for cats. They use their senses of smell and taste to explore their environment. Eating grass satisfies cats’ instinctive need to chew on fibrous plants. It provides a texture they enjoy and helps them fulfill their innate drive to use their teeth, jaws, and chewing muscles on appropriate plant materials.

So grass eating, for many cats, is simply an expression of their natural instincts and built-in behaviors. It provides mental stimulation and satisfaction by allowing them to exercise their innate desires to chew, nibble, and ingest greens. Their natural curiosity and food orientation leads them to explore grass in ways similar to their ancestral environment.

Preventing Harmful Grass Eating

One way to prevent cats from eating grass that may be contaminated with fertilizers or pesticides is to grow your own grass indoors specifically for your cat. Cat grass can be grown easily from kits purchased at a pet supply store. The grass grows quickly and allows your cat to fulfill their urge to munch on greens without ingesting anything toxic from the outdoors.

It’s also wise not to let your cat outside unsupervised, where they may nibble on plants and grasses treated with chemicals. Keep them indoors or only let them out in a secure, enclosed space you know is free of toxins.

You can also try offering wheatgrass or catnip as alternatives to regular grass. These plants are safe for cats to eat and can satisfy their cravings.

If your cat is eating abnormal amounts of grass, it may be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Excessive grass eating can sometimes indicate a food sensitivity, parasite, inflammatory bowel disease, or other problems. Have your vet examine your cat to identify and address any conditions that may be causing the behavior.

When to See the Vet

While most grass eating in cats is normal, there are some instances where you may want to consult your veterinarian:

  • If your cat is eating grass excessively or obsessively, this could point to an underlying health issue that needs attention.
  • Frequent diarrhea, constipation, or other GI issues after eating grass warrant a trip to the vet. The grass may be irritating your cat’s digestive tract or causing an obstruction.
  • Cats sometimes eat grass to induce vomiting. But if your cat is vomiting frequently after eating grass, there could be a more serious problem. Seek veterinary advice.
  • In some cases, abnormal grass eating can be a sign your cat has a nutritional deficiency. Your vet can run tests and advise you on supplements or diet changes to correct it.

While most cats eat grass from time to time with no issues, excessive or abnormal grass feasting that leads to other symptoms merits a visit to the veterinarian. They can examine your cat, run any necessary tests, and determine if specialized treatment is required.

Satisfying the Urge Safely

Cats have a natural urge to munch on grass, but you can satisfy this instinct in safer ways. Here are some tips to provide healthy grass alternatives so your cat avoids nibbling on toxic plants outdoors:

Grow pet-safe grass indoors for cats to snack on. Wheatgrass or oat grass are nutritious options that give cats fiber without chemicals or pesticides. Keep the grass in a sunny spot and trim it frequently for your cat to enjoy.

Use catnip as a distraction from outdoor grass. The herb’s appealing scent and flavor will satisfy your cat’s cravings to chew greens. You can grow catnip yourself or buy safe, organic catnip toys and treats.

Ensure cats get enough fiber from main diet. Fill their meals with high-fiber kibble or canned food so they feel less need to supplement with grass. Vets recommend 5% fiber minimum for good digestion and curbed grazing.

Redirect cats with toys when trying to eat grass. Offer a toy stuffed with catnip, chase a laser pointer, or throw a ball when you see them eyeing the yard. This trains them to stop the behavior. Reward with treats when they play with you instead.

Understanding Grass-Eating Behavior

Many cat owners see their feline nibbling on grass and worry there may be something wrong or the cat needs to be prevented from continuing the behavior. However, occasional grass eating is completely normal for cats and should not cause alarm. Cats have evolved as carnivores but retain the ability to digest small amounts of greens, which can provide trace nutrients, fiber and plant enzymes. In moderation, grass can benefit cat health.

That said, excessive or obsessive grass eating may signal an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention. Some health conditions, like inflammatory bowel disease or parasites, can fuel grass eating. Or a cat may overindulge due to boredom or stress. Other times, a nutrient deficiency or unbalanced diet drive the behavior. If a cat starts suddenly grazing on grass constantly, a vet checkup can determine if an issue needs treatment.

Rather than punishing or blocking access to grass, cat owners are better served determining why kitty craves greens. Providing more enrichment through playtime, cat trees and toys can curb obsessive grass munching. Adjusting the diet or feeding schedule may also help. The goal should be moderating grass eating, not eliminating it completely. An occasional nibble here and there is perfectly natural for our feline friends.


In summary, cats eat grass for several reasons rooted in their natural instincts and nutritional needs. Grass can provide fibre, vitamins, and minerals that supplement their regular diet. The act of grazing helps them vomit up hairballs, fur, or bones that are difficult to digest. Cats may also eat grass simply for the enjoyment of chewing on greens. While occasional grass eating is normal, excessive grazing may indicate a medical issue like upset stomach, intestinal blockages, or nutrient deficiencies. It’s important for cat owners to provide safe, clean grass for nibbling. Wheatgrass and cat grass are ideal options. Monitor your cat’s grass eating habits and consult your veterinarian if you notice any concerning changes or symptoms. Though odd, routinely snacking on greens is typical behavior for our feline friends. With some adjustments, you can ensure your cat’s grass eating remains healthy and satisfying.

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