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Why It's OK to Let Your Cat Eat Grass

PetSmart Margaret Dinchak / PetSmart

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Many cat owners are discovering that providing their cat with live greenery to nibble on is a safe and healthy way to bring a taste of the outdoors to their indoor cat.

Cat owners may be surprised when they see their carnivorous feline indulging in greenery. PetSmart’s feline expert and veterinarian Dr. Robyn Jaynes, says that Pet Parents frequently ask why their cats eat grass.

"We don’t fully understand its purpose, but grass eating is a very common, natural behavior for cats," says Dr. Jaynes.

There are several theories: Some speculate that the plant fiber in grass helps cats eliminate hairballs and promotes a naturally maintained and well balanced digestive system; others suspect that cats have a genetic predisposition to enjoy the taste and texture of grass. When in the wild, cats eat herbivores that eat grass so they might simply enjoy the flavor.

Without access to grass, many cats will snack on house plants instead. Dr. James DeBitetto, DVM, feline specialist and author of Practical Kitten Care, addresses the dangers behind a cat’s natural urge to graze on plants in his book. He warns cat owners to never let their cat chew on indoor or garden plants because many of them are poisonous. Redirect this unwanted behavior by providing them with cat grass as a safe alterative for nibbling.

There is some truth behind the notion that the grass is greener, and healthier, for cats when grown inside. Grasses or plants found outdoors are tough and could be sprayed with pesticides or chemicals that can be deadly to cats. Dr. Jaynes suggests providing "cat safe" grasses, such as wheat, barley, oat or rye grass.

Provide your feline friends with safe and healthy grass by growing it yourself. You can find pre-packaged cat grass seeds or complete kits at most pet stores. Simply plant the seeds according to the package directions and safe, pesticide-free grass will be ready to nibble on in just a few days. Your cat will love the nutritious snack and you will love how live grass brightens up your décor.

"If you notice your cat occasionally overindulging in the greenery and throwing up, don’t panic," Jaynes says. This is normal behavior and shouldn’t be a concern. If your cat continuously repeats this behavior, be sure to limit the amount she eats at one time.

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