Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Ginger cat outside eating blade of grass.

annfrau / Getty Images

Is your cat fond of chomping on grass?

Cats exhibit plenty of weird behaviors, and that includes the occasional (or perhaps not-so-occasional) grassy snack. Fortunately, in most cases this habit is completely harmless—and it likely even has some benefits for your feline friend.

If you’re curious about what's behind this behavior, here’s what to know about why cats eat grass, including why it’s probably not anything that you have to worry about.

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

There are a few different theories about why cats eat grass, and one of them might look familiar if you have a dog with a similar affinity for noshing on those long green blades.

They’re Filling Up on Nutrients

Grass contains nutrients just like other greens do. This includes folic acid, a vitamin found in heavy quantities in a mother cat’s milk and that helps support the release of oxygen in the bloodstream. It’s unknown if your cat is actually aware of any folic acid deficiency they might have, but eating grass could be their own version of enjoying a wheatgrass shot at the local smoothie shop.

They’re Looking for a Digestive Boost

Eating grass can help out your cat’s digestive system in two ways: by inducing vomiting or by quickening their bowel movements. That’s because their bodies lack the necessary enzymes to properly break it down, so in large quantities it can pass through their system and out—taking other indigestible material they may have consumed along with it.

This is one of the most common reasons that dogs eat grass too, and isn’t usually a cause for alarm. If your cat eats grass but doesn’t always expel it later in one way or another, then they’re probably not only drawn to it as a digestive supplement.

They Simply Enjoy It

Scientific reasoning aside, the reason for your kitty’s grass affinity may be a simple one: they like its taste and texture. After all, cat grass and catnip are both two distinct varieties of grass that we know for sure appeal to felines. This may be particularly true for cats that don’t usually have access to the outdoors, such as those that only hang outside on a leash with their humans.

How to Stop Your Cats Eating Grass

You don’t necessarily need to stop your cat from eating grass, but as their benevolent caregiver, it’s still your responsibility to ensure that this habit doesn’t end up with any harmful consequences. Here are some ways to let your kitty enjoy eating grass without having to worry that it might be doing more harm than good.

  1. Only let them graze in untreated areas While grass is just fine for your cat, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical-based treatments that might be on the grass certainly aren’t. Keep your cat out of the yard if your own lawn is treated with any of these toxic products so that you can be sure your cat isn’t ingesting them.
  2. Plant a healthy indoor cat garden – Cats who spend all of their time indoors may also enjoy snacking on grass or other greens every once in a while. In addition to making sure that you only keep non-toxic plants in your home, consider putting in a noshing station for your kitty complete with edible grassy treats like catnip, barley grass, wheat grass, or oat grass.
  3. Pay attention to your cat’s reactions – If your cat is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea every time (or most times) they eat grass, then that may be a sign something is off in their ability to eat grass or in their general diet. In this case, make sure to keep them away from the lawn, and make an appointment with your vet to get them checked out. You should also take your cat to the vet if you know that your cat has eaten grass that has been chemically treated.

Types of Plants That Cats Can Eat

If your cat loves to eat grass, then they may also like having access to other types of healthy edible plants. Here are some that you may want to grow in your garden for them or plant in that indoor kitty noshing station mentioned above:

  • Catnip
  • Mint
  • Lemongrass
  • Licorice root
  • Valerian
  • Alfalfa
  • Parsley
  • Other grasses, including cat grass, oat grass, barley grass, and wheatgrass