From laxative effects to dietary needs, the theories behind why cats eat grass are as varied as they are uncertain. However, recent research may point to a more practical and instinctual reason for this behavior: cats eat grass because non-digestible plants purge their systems of parasitic worms.
Of course, most contemporary house cats are not worm-infested, but this penchant for grass-eating goes back to their not-so-distant past as wild animals when they consumed almost entirely raw meat.
Until the 21st century, the dominant explanation for consuming plants was that since cats cannot digest grass, they eat it when they feel sick and want to induce vomiting. Another popular theory is that cats eat grass for fiber or because they are feeling anxious.
While researchers aren’t always entirely sure why cats eat grass, recent data from cats and dogs indicate that consuming weed is one way to induce vomiting – more than 90% of cat owners say their pet does not appear sick before eating. While a plant is both non-toxic and untreated with pesticides, it is generally safe for cats to eat in moderation.
Eating weed is an instinctive behavior
Cats appear to have an innate predisposition to regular consumption of plants, supported by numerous reports of wild carnivores eating plants, as mainly shown by the indigestible grass and other parts of plants found in their droppings. Primate studies show that indigestible plants purge the intestinal system of helminthic parasites (worms).
According to researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, “Virtually all wild carnivores carry an intestinal parasite load, and regular and instinctive consumption of plants is thought to have an adaptive role in maintaining a tolerable intestinal parasite load. whether the animal senses it or not. parasites. “1
Researcher’s findings that 91% of cats don’t look sick before they vomit support; the theory that weed consumption is instinctive and helps cats eliminate harmful parasites; but it doesn’t happen because cats want to. intentionally vomiting. Nonetheless, 27% of cat owners surveyed said their cat vomited frequently after eating plants, with the percentage increasing with age.
The herb as a laxative or diet aid
Vets have long wondered if cats eat grass because of a dietary deficiency – because of the vitamins and minerals found in different plants. Some have also speculated that the herb might work as a sort of laxative, helping hairballs find their way into the digestive tract.
Because research indicates that animals don’t seem visibly sick until they consume weed; it’s likely that eating weed for these reasons is another instinctual; activity that dates back to their time in the wild; when cats consumed whole animals.
More research needs to be done; but one study has shown that consuming prey in its entirety can provide components that aid digestion; and gastrointestinal health in felines; and are not present in commercially prepared foods; an effort on the part of cats to replace this missing food component?
It relieves stress and anxiety
Any change in a cat’s behavior can mean that they are experiencing stress and anxiety, including excessive meowing, restlessness, irritability; scratching, and/or urination. Chewing can also be a reaction to stress in cats, and sometimes it can manifest while eating grass. While this isn’t necessarily a sign of illness, if your cat typically doesn’t eat grass and then begins; a visit to the vet might be in order.
Is Eating Weed Bad For Cats? Risks
Eating weed in moderation is normal for the majority of cats and dogs and is generally not associated with a disease or an unhealthy gastrointestinal tract. Most of the risks come from potentially poisonous plants as well as yards and gardens treated with pesticides and herbicides.
It is important to review the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poisonous Plants List and ensure that the plants are safe for your pets before introducing them to their environment; One option for cats who like to eat grass is to purchase catnip or wheatgrass seeds that easily grow from an indoor window.
Keep in mind that when consumed in moderation; these plants will not harm your pet, but they will still not be able to digest them and may vomit. Some cats may also have an allergic reaction to grass, especially if it gets stuck in the sinus cavity. It is important to keep a close watch on your pet if he has a penchant for too much weed.
When to contact your veterinarian
Only a veterinarian can provide proper treatment for your pet;and any change in your cat’s behavior warrants a visit or at least a phone call. If you suspect that your cat has eaten a significant amount of grass or has consumed grass sprayed with toxic chemicals; immediately contact the Animal Poison Control Center and consult your veterinarian or; if applicable, medical care.
emergency. range from mild to severe, and even include death. And be careful with the plants you bring home, especially bouquets and cut flowers, which are often poisonous.
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