Why do cats eat grass?

Have you ever noticed your cat go outside to eat grass, only to vomit it back up again shortly after? It’s a strange activity to witness, and it often leaves you wondering why they bother. However, research has shown that this pastime provides numerous benefits to your cat that, as owners, we don’t often realise.

So, why do cats eat grass? Grass contains folic acid, a chemical that assists in the production of haemoglobin to keep them healthy while also acting as a natural laxative to aid digestion, and as cats can’t produce vegetable enzymes to digest it, grass helps them to empty their belly of all indigestible matter by vomiting.

Production of haemoglobin

The folic acid contained in grass is an important supplement in a cat’s diet, and is always present in a mother’s milk. Haemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that helps to maintain high oxygen levels in the blood stream – ensuring a healthy delivery to tissues and organs.

But why else do cats eat grass? When you see your cat eating grass, they are also receiving high levels of chlorophyll, and vitamins A and D which help to keep their immune system in check – minimising the risk of disease and infection.

It works as a laxative

As result of daily preening, cats have a high likelihood of getting excess amounts of hair stuck in their digestive tract. This excess of hair can, over time, accumulate and cause your cat to feel ill. But why do cats eat grass to feel better? Put simply, the plant is a natural laxative that helps to push any unwanted matter through their system and out the other end – either by adding fibre or bulk to their diet.

This process also helps them to excrete any worms or parasites that have been hiding inside their gut.

It helps them to vomit

While many people will agree that vomiting is not the most pleasant experience in the world, it’s hard to deny that we all tend to feel better once we have – and it’s the same for cats.

Sometimes, cats can end up with a whole range of unwanted materials from small bones and parasites, to feathers and fur in their digestive tract - and for the sake of the cat’s wellbeing, their instinct tells them that vomiting may be the best way to empty their stomachs.

As cats are carnivores, they lack the necessary enzymes to digest vegetable matter, and so when they choose to eat grass, sooner or later they will feel the urge to bring it back up, and when it does it brings the rest of the stomach contents with it.

While we may find this behaviour odd, it’s important to remember that cats have evolved to take care of themselves when it comes to illness, and grass has always been readily available throughout history for them to learn the benefits. While the science community is still discovering new ways in which munching on grass helps animals, at least for now, if someone asks you “why do cats eat grass?” you can help to enlighten them.

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