Should Your Cat Eat Grass?

cat-grass

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require meat not just to survive, but to thrive. Cats don’t need vegetables in their diet – in fact, they lack the enzyme required to properly digest carbohydrates and process them metabolitically. The only grass cats eat in nature is the stomach content of their prey. And yet, you will find numerous websites touting the benefits of grass, especially wheat grass, for cats, and some cats seem to really enjoy the taste of grass. So what’s the story: should your cat eat grass?

Potential benefits of grass

Grass can act as a laxative and help to increase intestinal motility, which may help hairballs pass through the system. However, hairballs are not normal for cats and are almost always an indicator of a more serious condition. Using cat grass as a hairball preventative is not a good strategy, as it may be masking an underlying issue. Grass can also induce vomiting, which may help the cat bring up hairballs, but again – hairballs are not normal.

Grass does contain nutrients that may not be a regular part of a cat’s diet, such as chlorophyll, which helps oxygenate the blood. Wheat grass also reportedly detoxifies the liver and has anti-inflammatory properties.

I’m not so sure about these benefits. As far as I know, there’s no research that backs up any of the claims of the benefits of wheat grass for cats, and given that cats aren’t even designed to eat plant matter, it doesn’t make much sense to me that there are nutrients they need that they can only get from eating grass.

Is grass safe for cats?

Cat grass does not harm cats, so if your cat enjoys eating it, there’s no reason to prevent him from doing it. What is not safe for cats is to eat grass from lawns that have been treated with chemicals.

If your cat likes grass, get one of the man kits available that let you grow your own cat grass. The SmartCat Organic Kitty Garden* (shown at the top of this post) let’s you grow 100% organic oat, wheat, barley and rye grasses in four to six days.

I haven’t tried cat grass for Allegra and Ruby, but I’d love to hear from you. Do your cats like to eat grass?

*FTC Disclosure: The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon.

17 Comments on Should Your Cat Eat Grass?

  1. Monica Ackerman
    November 14, 2015 at 1:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Well, my 7 years old Charlie loves grass and my 8 year old Chelsea can take it or leave it. I buy organic wheat grass sold as people food in my supermarket. It’s a lot cheaper than the “kitty grass” at Petco. I keep it moist and it’s good for about 10 days but for $1.69 it’s easily replaced with a new pot which Charlie loves to see. He does throw it up once in a while but it’s only a small portion and it’s grass only.

    Reply
  2. Connie
    November 11, 2015 at 12:50 pm (3 years ago)

    When I started feeding my cats raw they had no carbs in their diet.. and a good number of my cats started chewing on plastic bags. I googled around for theories as to why and one random site suggested it might be a lack of greens. I added some parsley into my next batch and the plastic chewing stopped.

    When my cats go under stress they start chewing plastic. Most recently Jack and one of his health scares. I put his harness on and took him outside (he seemed to be asking to go) and he immediately plopped down and started chewing on the grass. He didn’t lick plastic again.

    Cats are able to make their own Vit C but there are many who theorize that they can’t make enough of their own in times of stress.. and most green plant material has some C in it. You are right that they lack several key digestive enzymes to break down plant material efficiently, but even ineffective digestive enzymes can get some mineral and vitamin content out of some plant matter. Since cats are naturally drawn to plants it would seem likely that they get some benefit from it, just as cats who are anemic tend to eat dirt and lick cement..

    and digesting grass like plants is completely different from trying to digest corn or wheat.. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 11, 2015 at 3:28 pm (3 years ago)

      That’s interesting that the plastic chewing stopped when you added parsley to your food, Connie.

      Reply
  3. Eli
    November 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm (3 years ago)

    My cats looove grass. They love muching on any green plants really. My black cat Mugi ate up our entire ginger plant when we brought it indoors cause it was too hot outside πŸ™ We now know we cant have any plants at his reach unless he is allowed to eat it. Romy our tortie loves grass too but she pukes it if she eats too much. She also loves letuce which she seems to keep down much better. I grow a cat grass kit from time to time for them as a treat cause they seem to enjoy it so much.

    Reply
  4. Ada
    November 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks for posting this. Both my cats love grass, though the older one seems to be partial to wheatgrass, which he then throws up. However, I agree with other posters that it may be the long blades of grass that cause problems. However, I’ve also worried about possible pesticides and decided to research organic options…and I had just decided to give this product from SmartCat a try, so I enjoyed reading this. I will confess, though, that one of my motivators is that the “cat grass” holds the attention of my one cat, diverting him from my plants! They’re all safe for cats, but I’d like to keep them alive and growing for a while, instead of eaten and beaten up by my dear kitty. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 10, 2015 at 7:21 am (3 years ago)

      Using safe cat grass as a diversion strategy seems to work for quite a few cat guardians, Ada.

      Reply
  5. Bernadette
    November 9, 2015 at 2:06 pm (3 years ago)

    I have always had “grass” for my cats just because they enjoy it and a little chlorophyll doesn’t hurt, but it seems to be the long blades of grass that cause the trouble. Cats’ teeth are certainly not ruminant teeth! I add seeds for catnip and catmint and even lettuce to my grassy mix. Lettuce is just about 95% water, and we know cats can’t ever get too much water. Catnip and catmint aren’t as high in water content, but nearly all leafy plants are more than 75% water. The addition of the small leaves and different textures and flavors makes it more interesting for them, and also easier to bite and chew with smaller leaves, and the plants never get big enough to develop woody stems that could cause injury. The grass doesn’t tend to grow as tall when mixed with other plants so the long blades don’t cause as much of an issue. And they can pretend they are fierce panthers on the hunt while watching the birds and squirrels and chipmunks outside.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 10, 2015 at 7:22 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you for your suggestions, Bernadette.

      Reply
  6. NancyE
    November 9, 2015 at 12:16 pm (3 years ago)

    I have one cat who ADORES grass, but I don’t let him eat it because he always throws it up. I have another cat who likes it, and doesn’t throw it up – I grow wheat grass plants for her using the bulk wheat berries from my local grocery store. She is in a room by herself in order to lose weight, so ANY environmental enrichment I can find for her I use – although she is afraid of other cats anyway.

    Reply
  7. Margie
    November 9, 2015 at 11:22 am (3 years ago)

    I grow my cats wheat grass or from the kit you mentioned that has variety every few months. I have 7 cats and most all of them love it. Some more that others. In the spring I find fresh cat mint, cat nip, and lemon grass and keep it growing as long as I can. They love the lemon grass and I do have one kitty, Cindy, who eats too much and will throw it up. I bring them fresh cat nip stems, which they love. I always buy organic, and any plants, house plants or herbs, I bring into my house I check on line to see if they are toxic to cats. I think if you have a problem with your kitty getting into your house plants providing them with their own inside “garden” would be appreciated.

    Reply
  8. Mary Sue
    November 9, 2015 at 10:54 am (3 years ago)

    I think this statement is partially misleading. “Cats don’t need vegetables in their diet – in fact, they lack the enzyme required to properly digest carbohydrates and process them metabolitically.” I have read many studies that show that cats don’t produce amylase in their saliva as omnivores do, but they do produce it in their pancreas, though in lower amounts than do omnivores. Here is just one reference. Other research studies agree.

    From: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3847661/

    “Other features of feline metabolism that are relevant to carbohydrate metabolism have been determined from physiology studies. Cats are reported to lack salivary amylase, which is necessary for initiating digestion of some forms of carbohydrate (16). Although cats are able to digest and absorb carbohydrates, including simple sugars, the literature contains reports that show cats have reduced activities of pancreatic amylase and intestinal disaccharidases when compared to other species”

    I am not promoting feeding cats carbohydrates. I feed grain free canned food (low levels of carbohydrates are present in vegetable matter which might help intestinal motility in some cats) and raw prepared by me.

    Reply
  9. Lauren
    November 9, 2015 at 9:26 am (3 years ago)

    Both of my cats LOVE grass. I use the SmartCat Kitty Garden you mention in the article as well as the Pet Greens pots of wheat grass that I buy already grown.

    I have a cat with a major chewing issue, so I give him grass as an acceptable outlet for his behavior. He sticks his whole face in the pot and often tries to roll around in it. Sometimes I drop small toys and treats in the grass for him to fish out, so it acts as an environmental enrichment tool as well.

    I recommend giving it a try for Allegra and Ruby.

    Reply
  10. Lynda
    November 9, 2015 at 8:44 am (3 years ago)

    We walk our two tabbies daily around our property (harness and leash). Both like to munch grass (especially Puck) but we actively stop them as neither digest it well (especially Puck). If they eat it, they ALWAYS throw it up the next morning, completely undigested. It’s pretty harsh on their system to be throwing up every morning. Our vet advised us to not let them eat it since it’s not part of a cats diet.

    Reply
  11. Cynthia Southern
    November 9, 2015 at 2:00 am (3 years ago)

    I suppose one of these kits with a cover would be ideal. *

    Reply
  12. Cynthia Southern
    November 9, 2015 at 1:59 am (3 years ago)

    My Calico cat loves cat grass. I only feed her grass I grow in a pot just for her in the summer. I use fresh potting soil and cat grass seeds. One can buy cat grass seeds much cheaper on Amazon and E-Bay than in kits online or in the stores. I started out with a Chia Sylvester cat grass planter. My one cat has been hooked ever since.

    My fifteen year old brown tabby doesn’t care for cat grass at all and just ignores it when I bring it in. My Calico just goes nuts for it.

    What do you suggest for growing it inside in the winter? My Calico will find it and eat it before it is done growing. I suppose on of these kits with a cover would be ideal/

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 9, 2015 at 6:46 am (3 years ago)

      It sounds like you’ll need a covered pot, or, alternately, grow it in an area she doesn’t have access to until it’s ready for her!

      Reply
  13. Wendy
    November 9, 2015 at 1:36 am (3 years ago)

    Oh yes my cat, Jingle love to eat grass but I would not let her. Anyway, she is an indoor cat and I stopped letting her out after she got fleas and ticks from her “field trips” when we stayed at a house. We are now staying in apartment and I have indoor plants which I have to leave at the balcony. Saw her happily nibbling on them and one of the plant is our local small hot spicy chili plant! She was lucky she did not get to the chili part yet!

    Reply

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