A question I come across commonly is, ‘ why does my cat eat grass and then throw up? ’
Although most vets and cat owners have an answer to this. It’s not as clear cut as most people think. There have been some varying suggestions over the years.
Grazing on grass is something that is instinctual, that much is certain. Cats graze on grass and will eat some. It comes natural to them.
It’s not just your domestic cat that eats grass either. Feral cats are just as likely to eat grass. So don’t think it’s something specific to domestic cats.
Do Cats Eat Grass for the Nutritional Value?
No, absolutely not. Cats do not eat grass because they are getting some nutritional value from it.
The interesting thing is that grass is not very digestion friendly, and it’s low in nutritional value. Which contributes to the reason why cats often throw it up right after.
Grass is mostly made up of fibre. Cat’s stomachs do not have the enzyme required to digest fibre, which causes the upset stomach.
This isn’t all bad news however. For this reason grass helps the digestive process by making the cat regurgitate some of its undigested contents.
Why Do Cats Eat Grass and Then Throw Up?
Feral cats have been observed eating grass in between feeding on a prey kill like a mouse or bird. This is probably because the contents of prey contain some hard to digest pieces.
Such as bones, hair and gristle that get eaten along with the meat. Once the cat has ingested and gained all the nutrition from the meat, the harder to digest bits remain.
Eating grass forces the cat to be sick, bringing up the hard to digest bits that the cat doesn’t want to eat. Often wrapped up nicely in a grass packet, making it easy to pass up safely.
When you look at the behavior of a wild cat like this, it seems to make perfect sense. This is, and has been, a vital part of cat’s evolution for countless years.
Domestic Cats and Eating Grass
The difference between wild cats, and indoor cats is how often they catch and eat live prey of course. Indoor cats will obviously never experience that blood lust.
You should make grass available. Whether or not your cat eats some, it’s recommended. There are cat grass boxes available for indoor cats.
This is because cats groom a lot. Therefore they are always ingesting their fur as they clean. You will have seen them cough up furballs, this can be facilitated by eating some grass too.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a natural instinct for a cat to eat grass. So given the chance, indoor, or domestic cats will nibble on grass. So provide some for them to do this.
This can be looked at as another way cats have evolved to look after themselves. Eat grass to help bring up the indigestible fur they take in from grooming.
Coming home to find a furball on your carpet is never a welcome sight. But it’s unavoidable, as part of owning a cat.
When cats fail to bring up a furball they fall sick pretty quick. A surgical procedure is usually necessary to free the blockage. So give me a furball on the floor any day.
Observations on Wild Cats
There are people whose profession it is to watch cats in the wild. While this is something of interest in itself for most, they do a valuable amount of research.
They observe wild cats killing and eating prey. Cats tend to eat the intestine first form their prey. Knowing that this is one of the most nutritious parts of the kill.
This shows a cat’s instinctual ability to eat what is best for them. Cats are very adept at this, often avoiding many of the harmful things they could eat.
Grass does contain some minerals and vitamins, along with some moisture content. But it’s not believed these are factors in their choices.
Another possible theory is that cats enjoy the taste of the blades of grass. That’s possible, and certainly one theory. But with so much practical evidence above, it’s certainly not the only reason.
Make Grass Available
If there is one thing you should have learned in summary, make sure there is grass available for your cat. Even if you have an indoor cat, buy some grass boxes and keep them on a window sill somewhere.
Some people have twinned together the fact that their cat throws up after eating grass, and determined it’s a bad thing.
As you know now, this isn’t the truth. The sickness is actually a good thing. Helping them remove potentially harmful substance, and digest better.
For a combination of reasons, and for maybe more reasons than we are even aware. Cats like to eat grass, and often will when they can.
So now you know. Do your bit to provide grass, keep your cat happy, and don’t freak out when they are sick.