Another delightful quirk of felines: munching a mouthful of grass and then regurgitating it onto your sofa. Keeping him indoors won't solve the problem entirely, as your cat will turn his attention to your houseplants -- some of these may be toxic. Grow Tommy some grass that he can safely enjoy.
Why Do They Do It?
Veterinarians have a wide range of guesses as to why cats eat grass, but even the vets who contributed to "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats" admit no one knows exactly why they do it. Some vets believe that when cats hunted in the wild, they got the benefits of their herbivore prey's diets, making your cat's penchant for nibbling on greens his way of supplementing the vegetables his domesticated system doesn't get. The VetInfo website speculates that when your cat eats grass it cleans out his digestive system. Tommy is probably the only one who knows for sure why he likes to have an occasional salad before dinner.
In the Yard
Whatever the reason cats like to eat grass, the type you'll commonly see your cat gnawing on is simple turf or lawn grass, or the tall-growing quack grass weed, also known as couch grass. In "Good Cats, Bad Habits" Alice Rhea points out that even though eating the grass itself won't hurt your cat, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals that he might accidentally ingest along with the grass are toxic.
An alternative to risking possible poisoning by allowing your cat to eat his fill of grass outdoors is to grow some grass for him indoors. You don't have to fill a large planter box with soil and sod. Your cat will be perfectly happy with a small pot that contains a patch of edible grass for him to nosh on. You can buy these little containers at the pet supply store with the soil and seeds already in place -- you just add water. If you want to select your own seeds and plant your own special blend, wheat, oats or rye are the types typically used in the commercial cat grass kits. Alice Rhea recommends starting a second pot of greens for your cat a couple of weeks after the first container's grass has grown to a height of 1 inch. Switch out the pots periodically to give the grass in each a chance to regrow without depriving your kitty of his greens.
Other Healthy Plants to Munch
You can grow a whole indoor garden of different plants that are fully acceptable -- and in some cases medicinal -- for your cat to eat. The Holisticat website lists the obvious catnip as one herb that is healthy and enjoyable for your cat. You can plant a bit of couch grass, too, which is supposed to act as a disinfectant for your kitty's urinary tract. Your cat will also enjoy a snack of mint or its cousin bugleweed. The only caution with bugleweed is for cats who have poor thyroid function, as it is thought to have hormonal properties and can act as a vasoconstrictor.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- PetPlace.com; Grass Roots: Why Your Cat Nibbles Grass; Virginia Wells
- "Good Cats, Bad Habits"; Alice Rhea
- Holisticat: Herbs for Cats
- "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats"; The Editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books
- VetInfo: Cat Feeding Tips
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.