If you have a cat who you allow to go outdoors occasionally you will have noticed that he will chew on some grass. Popular notion is that a cat with an upset stomach eats grass to make himself throw up. This belief has made a number of cat owners worried when their cat eats grass but doesn’t throw up.
Why Doesn’t My Cat Throw Up The Grass?
It is not true that every time a cat eats grass it has a bum tummy and wants to vomit. Cats do not eat grass solely to “self-medicate”. A number of cats do that, but not all. If the cat had a bad stomach or a hairball before he ate grass then it is likely that the grass will add to the irritation and the cat will soon after throw up the grass together with the offensive material in the stomach.
Sometimes a cat eats grass but doesn’t throw up because it has simply nibbled on it out of interest. If the cat did not have a stomach problem before eating grass then the grass would just pass on to the intestine like any other foodstuff and the cat doesn’t throw up. Unless the cat swallowed an unusually large quantity of grass at one time then it may cause stomach irritation causing the cat to throw up.
Benefits of Eating Grass
Cats do not have the enzyme to digest grass so eating grass is not done for any nutritional purpose. At best it has moisture and some vitamins and minerals. Grass is mainly fiber and can help a cat’s digestive process. This may have evolved from the cat being an obligate carnivore that eats prey whole including bone and hair. These indigestible parts will be “wrapped” by the grass and vomited back up. Indoor house pets are not likely to feed on rodents or birds but they still have a taste of grass. Cats vomit is believed to be induced by eating grass. It helps cats vomit hairballs and being fibrous it has a laxative effect in the intestines.
When To Worry
It is not something to worry about if only occasionaly your cat eats grass but doesn’t throw up. As long as he is passing stool regularly, the stool does not have blood and he is active with good appetite. What is worrisome is when a cat starts eating grass excessively followed by frequent vomiting. If this is a regular occurrence, it may be something serious so bring the cat to the veterinarian for a check-up. The frequent vomiting may also be a sign of another problem totally unrelated to eating grass.
Growing Your Own Grass
Cats eating grass is fine as long as you guard against the accidental swallowing of pesticides, herbicides or any other chemicals used to treat the grass in the yard. A cat with no access to grass may start chewing on houseplants instead. Keep in mind that a number of house plants are toxic to cats so ask your veterinarian about this. A lack of dietary fiber can sometimes result to a wool sucking behavior in cats that may lead to more serious gastrointestinal obstruction problems if left unchecked.
To meet this need for cats to nibble on grass, it is a wise idea to grow your own grass. Indoor pots are a good place to grow cat grass. It is a safer alternative for cats as opposed to the potentially hazardous activities of going outdoor to graze, eating house plants and chewing on non-edible materials.