Back when I used to live with my parents I used to take our cat, Walker, out for walks fairly regularly. Well, I can’t really call them walks since it was pretty much me taking Walker out on a harness and him lying in the grass. I wish I had videos, but my sister would be more than happy to confirm that Walker would take a bite of grass, lye down then moments later get up walk a bit to eat the next piece of grass.
While at first, we thought this was weird behaviour for a cat, we soon realized that many cats are actually interested in eating grass. But why? Why do cats like to eat grass when they are obligate carnivores?
WHY CATS EAT GRASS
At the time of posting this article vets and researchers have not been able to confirm why it is exactly cats eat grass, especially as they are not able to properly digest it. They have, however, been able to confirm that wild cats tend to eat grass after they have hunted prey and will commonly throw up after eating the grass.
So why would a cat put themselves through the pains of throwing up? Well, wild cats will commonly eat every piece of an animal, even the pieces they can’t digest. So, to help aid the digestion process they will throw up the remnants of their catch in hopes of either re-eating or completely ignoring the parts which were originally undigestible.
Think this is a weird behaviour? Well, it actually is common for cats to do even if they haven’t lived outside. Many housecats are actually attracted to grass (similar to Walker) and will eat it as soon as they are exposed to it. Not only that, if cats are ever experiencing any digestion issues they will throw up their food and re-eat it to make sure that their stomach has enough acidity in it to properly digest their food.
IS EATING GRASS EVER BENEFICIAL FOR CATS?
Cat grass can actually be beneficial for cats who deal with frequent hairballs or constipation. Since grass is so rich in fibre it will help aide cats as either a laxative or will help begin the process for “upchucking.”
Grass also has traces of vitamin A and D, which is actually another reason why vets assume wild cats eat it. Not only that, but the grass has chlorophyll, which can help infections, bad breath anemia, skin diseases, ulcers and remedies certain pains. Chlorophyll was actually used as a remedy before antibiotics were discovered.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED TO BE “CAT GRASS”
Cat grass is actually not one type of grass, however, many types that are classified as “safe” for cats to eat. Cat grass is most commonly grown from barley, rye, wheat or even oat seeds.
The main difference between “cat grass” and outdoor grass is that cat grass is not chemically treated with pesticides. That being said, grass that is labelled as cat grass is ensured to be non-toxic towards cats as many plants, flowers, fruits and veggies are actually toxic to our furry friends.
IS THERE ANY CAT GRASS THAT IS BETTER THAN ANOTHER?
Honestly, not really. All the various forms of cat grass will do the trick, however, as is with most things organic is better.
I’m personally a fan of growing my own cat grass rather than buying the already potted seeds. My reason being: seeds tend to last longer than grass that’s already been potted. Since the lifespan of cat grass is around one to three weeks, potted plants tend to have a bit of a shorter lifespan (since they’re already growing.) That being said,
Seeds also tend to be less expensive than pre-potted grass, so if you’re a pet parent who wants a little more bang for their buck, seeds are the way to go!
That all being said, some vets say that alfalfa grass is the best type of grass you can feed your cat as it shows signs of promoting proper kidney health. Others say oat is the best because it has soluble fibre, promotes healthy digestion and is rich in vitamin B, zinc, iron and manganese.
ARE THERE ANY CONCERNS WHEN IT COMES TO FEEDING CAT GRASS?
In general, it’s always good to talk to a vet before adding anything to your cat’s diet, however, there are no major concerns when feeding your cat “cat grass.”
Cat grass should only be used as a supplement and should not be a cat’s primary diet, as they are not omnivores and definitely not vegetarians/vegans.
It should also be mentioned that you need to keep a close eye on your cat grass and ensure that you are not overwatering it as it can easily develop mould. We ran into this issue several times while growing our own cat grass and I’ve realized that it’s much safer to underwater the cat grass rather than follow the directions on most cat grass packets. That being said, mould can cause a cat to get seriously ill.
While cat grass is great to have lying around the house, you’re going to want to make sure that your cat doesn’t overeat it. As mentioned, you want to make sure that your cat grass is only used as a supplement and not as a main source of food for your cat.
Personally, I like to keep cat grass around if I notice my cats are chewing on things they shouldn’t be chewing on, if they are constipated or if they are having difficulty passing up hairballs.
Do all cats need cat grass? Absolutely not and truthfully many cats will never have a strain of grass ever in their lives, but it is good to know that it is a safe alternative to “kitty laxatives” or aides to pass hairballs.
So, pet parents, I’m curious. How many of you keep cat grass in your house? What got you interested in feeding your cats cat grass? Let me know in the comments below!