Each animal has its own set of behaviors and these can often seem strange to humans. One thing that cats do that seems odd is to eat grass. If you are the owner of a cat, then this is something that you may have seen them do on many occasions. It may even have worried you that it is doing them harm and you might have wondered if this behavior is normal. Here is all you need to know about cats eating grass.
Why Do Cats Eat Grass?
Eating grass is something that cats have done throughout history. Despite the fact that cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they can survive on a diet of just animal protein, eating grass is a common behavior amongst cats. The first thing that you need to know is that this is perfectly normal. The next thing you need to understand is that there are generally three reasons why a cat would eat grass.
The first reason is that it can act as a digestive aid, although this usually relates to wild cats. Directly after a wild cat has eaten their prey, they will often eat grass to help their body to digest the vast amount of protein they have just consumed. Although pet food eaten by domestic cats is designed for easy digestion, so they do not necessarily need a digestive aid, it is a natural instinct of the species to eat grass.
The second reason that cats eat grass is as a way of controlling hairballs, which is a common problem for cats. Cats clean themselves by licking their bodies. The small hooks on their tongues pick up their hair and this then makes its way into the digestive tract. If the hair stays in the stomach rather than passing through the tract, it begins to form hairballs and these are uncomfortable. A cat needs to vomit to get rid of the hairballs and grass provides the perfect solution as it activates the vomit reflex.
The final reason why cats may eat grass is to get vitamins and minerals. Grass contains niacin and vitamins A and D. It also contains folic acid and chlorophyll, which is an aid to blood oxygenation. Cats crave what they need nutritionally and eating grass may be a sign that they are in need of the nutrients contained in the grass.
Giving Cats Grass to Eat
Not all grass is safe to eat as it may be contaminated with toxins that are found in pesticides. Another concern is that there may be small plants growing within the grass that is not safe for your cat to consume. For this reason, many cat owners decide that they will provide their cat with grass that they know is safe to eat and may even decide to grow their own.
It is important to note that catnip and cat grass are not the same thing. Catnip is from the mint family, while cat grass usually comes from wheat, rye, oat, or barley seeds. Therefore, if you do decide to feed your cat grass, it is not catnip that you should add to your shopping list.
There is a range of cat grass seeds and kits available. You can buy these from pet stores, garden stores, health food shops, or online. Cat grass is really easy to grow as you simply need to soak the seed in water for about six hours before planting them in a planter filled with soil. You can also grow cat grass outdoors if you have a garden in which your cat plays. By growing your own cat grass in this way, you can control the grass your cat eats and it should stop them from eating grass from outside that is potentially contaminated with harmful substances.
You can give cat grass to cats of most ages. However, if you are feeding your kitten with cat grass, it is best to do so only in moderation. In fact, cat experts recommend only giving cat grass to kittens over the age of four months to prevent them from getting greedy with it and overdoing it, which could make them sick. This is because their digestive tract is still developing, and their bodies may find it challenging to tackle large amounts of cat grass.