Why do cats eat grass? Not for what most people believe!

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. May 29 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Like dogs, cats often eat grass, and people have a guess for their reason. But science says otherwise.


Most owners who have outdoor or indoor cats (and let’s ignore the perennial debate about where is a better place for your pet, indoors or outdoors), have cleaned up vomit after their pet that had grass fibres in it. But why do cats eat grass? The common belief is that it’s because its stomach is hurting and wants to get rid of its contents. But just as in the case of dogs, the reason is not discomfortn, cats have a different reason for eating grass as well.

More than 1000 cat owners surveyed

In a study over a thousand owners were interviewed about their pet’s behaviour. It was important that people spent at least 3 hours a day with their pets, enough time to gain real experience.

Respondents clearly confirmed the hypothesis that grass consumption is very common among cats. 71% of the animals have “grazed” at least 6 times in their lifetime. However, only 11% of owners said they had never experienced this phenomenon.

They do not try to make themselves vomit

Although most people believe that eating grass is intended to make the cat vomit, only a quarter of the time does it actually happen. In addition, 91% of respondents said their pet did not look sick when they ate grass.

A consequence rather than a goal

For this reason, researchers believe that vomiting is merely an unpleasant consequence of grass consumption, rather than its purpose. As the International Society for Applied Ethology has pointed out, herbivory is an instinctive behaviour in cats and has many evolutionary advantages. Based on research on chimpanzees and other wild animals, chewing grass is thought to increase muscle activity in the digestive tract, which helps to expel intestinal parasites.

For this reason, domestic cats are thought to have inherited this behaviour from their ancestors. However, it cannot be ruled out that the ingested hairs, or more precisely the the hairballs that form are what cats are trying to get rid of.

How to please your pet

For these reasons, it is also worth providing some snacks for indoor cats, for example in the form of catnip (apart from the fact that most kittens like it for its pleasant effect.) This will also prevent them from chewing houseplants, especially if there are poisonous ones.

cat habits catnip Plant poisonous plant vomit the cat vomiting why

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