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Why do cats eat grass?

by Drew Pilton

The eating of grass followed by regurgitation is a perfectly natural behavior for all cats.
Some cat owners make the mistake of preventing their cat from eating grass. Oftentimes people think it might make their cat ill or that it could upset their stomach. This is an incorrect assumption. The eating of grass followed by regurgitation is a perfectly natural behavior for all cats.

Cats do not possess the ability to separate meat from fur and bones or feathers before eating — like we do — so they have to eat the digestible parts along with the indigestible parts. When the cat has finished digesting what he can the rest has to be removed from the system. To try and pass this through the digestive tract could cause obstruction and severe illness — this is where grass eating comes in.

The habit of eating grass triggers the natural process of regurgitation of indigestible foods including its own fur balls — which would otherwise obstruct the system. This can appear to us humans as if the cat is violently ill but it is actually very beneficial to the cat.

What about other plants and vegetables?

Cats cannot produce the enzymes needed to break down plant matter. Even when pureed or powdered, vegetables simply pass through the digestive tract without leaving any of their nutritional content. This alone is not harmful to your cat, but when undigested plant matter mixes with highly digestible food such as meat, indigestion and other complications may occur. Grass is an exception however; some cats compulsively eat grass when you leave them outdoors. This will cause them to regurgitate the indigestible matter, including raw vegetables.
If your cat is unable to get access to grass he may attempt to eat your house plants instead. This could be dangerous because some house plants and flowers are toxic to cats. If you have a house cat you should provide a regular supply of potted grass to prevent him or her from looking elsewhere. One of the most important things to remember: do not discipline your cat for regurgitating on your carpet or floor. They will never understand why they are being punished. Regurgitation is an involuntary action of your cat’s stomach. Cleaning up afterwards should be an accepted part of being a loving cat owner.

— Drew Pilton is the author of “The Complete Ragdoll Cat Keepers Handbook.”

info: www.ragdoll-cat-care.com

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