Much like other domestic pets, cats and kittens like to explore the world with their mouths. Cats usually grow out of chewing cables and shoes at home, but grass and plants is another matter. No matter the age of a cat, greenery appears to be a constant source of fascination.
However, there are also health risks to cats eating grass. They can often make themselves sick by doing so. Also, your cat may ruin a decorative flowerbed or chew on a toxic plant.
Why Do Cats Eat Grass and Make Themselves Sick?
Many pet owners find themselves asking why cats eat grass and then throw up. After all, surely this is counterproductive?
When a cat eats grass and regurgitates, it is a deliberate act. Remember that cats are natural predators, and thus eat all kinds of wild prey. If your cat has chased and consumed a mouse, they could be eating fur and bones.
These will be tricky to digest, and could be causing your cat some digestive discomfort. Your cat will instinctively know that eating grass, which they cannot digest, could end with regurgitation. While that is not fun, it will purge the cat’s body of all anything else unwanted. This could even include hairballs induced by grooming.
There is Blood in My Cat’s Vomit After Eating Grass
Blood in a cat’s vomit is never a good sign, and will always need medical attention. This is crucial for cats that are older, younger or vulnerable in any way. It could be a scratched throat from a blade of grass, or something more serious. Some health concerns that involve blood in the vomit include inflammatory bowel, heartworm, and gingivitis.
If your cat’s regurgitation meets any of these criteria, seek help from a vet ASAP.
- Your cat is vomiting more than three times a day.
- Your cat vomits more than once in an hour.
- Your cat is struggling to breathe.
- Your cat refuses to eat.
- Your cat is seemingly more lethargic than usual.
Fingers crossed your cat has just hurt their throat, and treatment will be swift and minor. Many health conditions include vomiting blood as a symptom, however, so don’t take any chances.
My Cat Always Has Diarrhea After Eating Grass
It is not only oral regurgitation that cats experience after eating grass. As they cannot digest greenery, cat’s bodies sometimes reject grass when it reaches the digestive tract. This will take the form of diarrhea, and purge everything within a cat’s stomach.
This is not fun for you, as you have to clean it up. However, your cat will feel much, much better for it. A few minutes of your time is also considerably cheaper than a veterinarian bill. Just keep an eye on your cat’s health. A bout of diarrhea, especially alongside regurgitation, could leave your cat dehydrated.
Is Eating Grass Bad for Cats?
If your cat is eating grass every day, you may grow concerned. However, as long as they are not growing sick, there is nothing to worry about.
As we have previously mentioned, grass can help cats due to the presence of folic acids. These acids move the blood around the body, keeping a cat warm, supple, and healthy. Some people also believe that cats eating grass can relieve a sore throat.
If your cat is continuously eating grass, however, you may want to investigate why. It’s possible that your cat lacks sufficient fiber in their diet, and thus craves grass. You should also never leave a cat to eat grass unattended.
If your cat enjoys roaming you can’t watch them 24/7. However, within the confines of your backyard, try to prevent a pet from gorging too much. They could make themselves sick beyond benefit, or find themselves eating a toxic plant in error.
What Type of Grass is Best for Cats to Eat?
You may have noticed a form of grass known as cock’s-foot in pet stores. This grass (Latin name Dactylis glomerata) is also sometimes called Orchard Grass or Cat’s Grass.
The latter is a nickname bestowed upon this grass due to its popularity with cats. It tastes a little sweeter than usual, making it hugely popular with felines. This form of grass is safe for cats to eat.
It grows naturally in some parts of the USA between June and September. Some States consider cock’s-foot an invasive weed though, so it may be treated with herbicide. Take care if your cat is looking to eat this plant in the wild.
Why Does My Cat Like to Eat Plants?
It’s not just grass that cats find irresistible. Many housecats will also take a liking to plants, both in and out of the home.
Much like grass, this will start out as simple curiosity and investigation. Cats enjoy feeling different textures with their mouths. The fact that many plants have distinct tastes and scents also adds to the appeal. This can make it difficult to live with cats and a substantial number of houseplants.
A cat that insists on chewing on your plants may not be a problem. It can be annoying when your decorative greenery is covered with teeth marks, but not fatal.
There is a caveat to this though; the plant must not be toxic. Some strikingly beautiful and sweet-smelling plants can be fatal to cats. Lilies are the main danger.
What Plants Do Cats Like?
Cats enjoy any plant that they can sink their teeth into. Much like dogs, cats love to chew. If substantial leaves are at an appealing height for a cat, they will tuck in.
Cats also have a strong sense of smell, roughly fourteen times better than a human. This means that if you choose a plant based on an appealing scent, your cat will be intrigued too.
Some common plants that cats often find themselves drawn to include:
- Silver Vine. This beautiful white plant rarely grows in the wild in the U.S., being native to Asia. It can be imported and purchased from garden stores, however. Cats often love this plant, hence its unofficial nickname of Cat Powder.
- Valerian. This plant may still be quite pungent to humans, but cats love the aroma. Just be warned that Valerian can also attract rats and other rodents.
- Cat Thyme. Despite the name, this plant is not part of the Thyme family of herbs. It’s a soft plant that cats often find irresistible and love to roll around in.
- Spider Plants. These plants produce tough leaves that will typically not hurt a cat’s digestion. The erratic growth also makes the leaves fun for cats to play with and hide within.
- Honeysuckle. Some cats cannot resist the scent of Honeysuckle. Others, however, will be repelled by it. Whichever camp your cat falls into, keep them away from Honeysuckle seeds. The plant itself is safe, but the seeds are very toxic.
We have already discussed Cat Grass. Of course, the most irresistible plant of them all to cats is Nepeta Cataria – better known as Catnip.
Is Catnip a Plant?
Nepeta Cataria, aka Catnip, is a plant. Despite its reputation, and the effect it has on many cats, it’s not a drug. As Pet Health Network explains, cats love Catnip because it stimulates different parts of their brain.
There is no rule about how a cat will react to Catnip if it’s inhaled or consumed. Some cats will fall into a trance-like state and stare at the wall. Others will gain an injection of energy, running aimlessly in circles. Others still will drool uncontrollably, and there is even a chance of sudden, uncharacteristic aggression. A small number of cats will not be impacted by the plant in any way.
What matters most is that Catnip is not addictive to cats. Also, any impact it has upon a feline will only last around fifteen minutes. There is nothing harmful about offering this plant as an occasional treat or reward.
What Plants are Poisonous to Cats?
Lilies are hugely toxic to cats. Do not risk keeping these flowers in a cat-friendly home. Despite their dangerous nature, these plants have a scent that cats find very enticing. Any exposure can impact your cat’s digestive system. Within days, they could be experiencing kidney failure.
Sadly, many other common plants and flowers are toxic to cats. Common yard flowers such as Chrysanthemums, Tulips, and Amaryllis are among these, as is English Ivy. For an exhaustive inventory of plants and flowers toxic to cats, consult the ASPCA’s list.
Will Chewing Plastic Plants Make My Cat Sick?
Some cats will insist on chewing upon plastic plant leaves. This is not an everyday occurrence, as there is no distinct scent to these decorative plants. Moreover, a curious cat may chew once they move on, bored by the lack of taste.
If your cat eats plastic leaves, it may be living with a condition called Pica. As Vet Street explains, this psychological condition revolves around an overwhelming desire to eat non-food items. Pica could be caused by dental pain or discomfort, stress, and anxiety, or good old-fashioned boredom.
If you have suspect that your cat is living with Pica, speak with a vet. Treatment will be available, and it’s highly advisable. If your cat insists on eating plastic their stomachs will struggle to digest it. Additionally, a cat with Pica may evolve from eating plastic plants to other, lethal items.
How to Stop Cats Eating Plants and Flowers
If your cat insists on eating houseplants, train them out of the habit using these techniques:
- Startle the cat with a loud noise, such as a handclap, when they start to eat.
- Squirt water using a squirt gun when they start to eat.
- Give your cat an alternative, such as his or her patch of Cat Grass.
- ‘Sacrifice’ a Spider Plant or similar, and allow your cat to treat it as their own.
- Keep your cat entertained elsewhere in the home. Cats may chew because they are bored. Ensure there are plenty of toys, scratching posts and climbing frames dotted around.
Alternatively, you could keep them on a tall, high shelf. As we know, however, a determined cat will find a way to reach something they want. This could result in a plant being knocked from a shelf and chewed.
Outside is a little more complicated, as you will not be able to watch your cat constantly. However, a hugely impactful way of deterring cats is through citrus fruit. Leaving lemon or lime peels around your plants will make them a no-go zone for cats. This makes citrus fruits a useful way to repelling stray cats, or those of your neighbors.
A cat eating non-toxic plants and grass is not necessarily something to worry about. In fact, in the case of grass, it may even be worth encouraging in small doses. Cats will gain health benefits from their green meal. Even if they regurgitate the grass, it will be for a good reason.
Despite this, you should always be vigilant about watching your cat eating grass and plants. It is possible for a cat to have too much of a good thing. Also, they could accidentally ingest something toxic. You may also find that your cat seeks grass to make up for a vitamin deficiency. Remember that a little nibbling can go a long way where grass is concerned.