My Indoor Cats and their Craving for Grass

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It must be Cat Week here at the Rant, with Elizabeth’s post about indoor cats prompting me to finally find out if my own indoor cats really need to eat grass.

Here they are on the porch absorbed in eating anything grass-like in the weed carrier I was transporting through my house. I bring all sorts of plants into the house – the fastest route between my front and back yards, thanks to rowhouse living – but what gets their  attention like addicts at first sight of their dealer are plants with grass-shaped leaves.

The down side to the pleasure of seeing them so happily absorbed in grass-eating is the gooey mix of grass and gastric juices they soon deposit on my rugs. Never on the wood flooring, mind you, always the rugs. Thanks, guys.

So I don’t regularly bring grass indoors for them and wondering if this makes me a bad cat-owner, I took to the Internet to find out why they eat the stuff and whether they really need it. Maybe their passion for it is like mine for chocolate, I was hoping.

The bottom line (via VetMD) is that “Many experts theorize munching on those long green blades can be beneficial for your cat.” Here’s why.

Much like mother’s milk, the juices in grass contain folic acid. This is an essential vitamin for a cat’s bodily functions and assists in the production of hemoglobin, the protein that moves oxygen in the blood.

Another theory is that grass acts as a natural laxative, counteracting any cases of indigestion. As any cat owner knows, cats regularly throw up and leave lovely, wet little fur ball presents around the house. But when the fur moves deep into the digestive tract, kitty needs a little help to break it down and pass it out the other end. Call it a sixth sense or just intuition, but your cat knows that a little bit of grass may just go a long way in cleaning out its system (and may save you a trip to the veterinarian).

So Why Does Grass Make Cats Throw Up? 

Cats regurgitate when they eat grass because they lack the necessary enzymes to break down vegetable matter. Does this mean your cat likes to throw up? Well, while it’s doubtful that kitty enjoys the act, this up-chucking sensation may eliminate all indigestible matter from the cat’s digestive tract, making it feel a whole lot better. This is important because cats eat their prey as is, including both the edible and inedible parts (fur, bones, feathers, etc.).

Okay, it’s not like chocolate. Good to know.

Cats and Screened-in Porches

I’ve shown you my porch and declared my love for it, but it’s not just for me. My cats spend most of their days for most of the year on the porch, where they get to watch a menagerie of animals, sometimes as close as a foot away, and falling leaves (surprisingly exciting!) and even experience wind, rain and changing temperatures.

To dispel any lingering worries about these indoor-only cats not having a good life, I can report that they’ve never shown any interest in going outdoors, where they’ve never been. That means they’ve never chased and killed anything bigger than a stinkbug, so thankfully they don’t have that craving for the hunt and aren’t trying to slip between my legs every time I open the door.

6 COMMENTS

  1. My cat loves to eat grass, but just not any grass, she is very picky. She adores lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus) and will eat it before any other grass I may have in my house even before what my vet calls cat grass and sells in their offices. I talked to a lot of vets and they all said that lemongrass is safe for them to eat. She also loves to much (but not eat) on he shoots of kiwi plants (those long shoots they have lots of times) its like catnip to her (although real catnip does nothing to her).

  2. I have no doubts about the good lives your cats are living! I have two indoor only cats who love their lives inside!
    I get them “cat grass” now and again, which is just densely sown wheat grass. They demolish it. Lately, as I cut back my various catnips and catmints I bring in the stem cuttings. One cat likes the leaves, and rolling around. The other eats the woody stems, completely! He liked the lemon catnip best.
    My two cats are a bit like yours. A short haired solid black, and a longer haired black, but mine has white feet and chest. Benny and Velvet.

  3. I’m glad to know I’m not a crazy cat lady for growing ‘cat grass’ for my little buddy. She has always shown interest in grass but only occasionally imbibes, except for spring, when she’ll eat it every day, sometimes twice a day. She, too, loves our screened-in porch. She’s a rescue who was found in a park at around 1 year of age, so she has been an outside cat. Once she came to us, she was kept inside & she has never, not once, shown any interest in leaving the house or the porch. I think she prefers the protection, while still enjoying her outside time on the porch. Your cats are lovely, btw!

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