Do you ever see your tortoiseshell cat cat nibbling your lawn? Why would a cat feel it necessary to eat grass? After all, you feed them plenty of food (wet or dry) so what is the reason for them adding to their diet?
There are various theories:
1. Some cats vomit after eating grass and some scientists say this is because they do not have the necessary enzymes to digest it but that they do it to help regurgitate things like their own hair (cat balls), feathers and bones. These might otherwise get stuck in their digestive system. However, other scientists say that studies show vomiting is only occasional and that regurgitation is not the objective.
2. Some scientists say that cats eat grass in order to expel parasites from their system. Domestic cats do not normally have parasites now but the behaviour may be left over from when they were living in the wild.
3. Yet another theory is that grass acts as a laxative. It helps breaks things down in the digestive tract, cleans the system and avoids constipation.
4. Grass contains folic acid which as a kitten a cat would have got from her mother’s milk. It can aid digestion, promote cell growth and help to produce haemoglobin. So this theory is that if a cat feels deficient in folic acid it may seek out grass to obtain the extra nutrients she needs.
5. Of course it may be that some tortoiseshell cats just like eating grass!
Is it safe for tortoiseshell cats to eat grass?
If a cat eats too much grass it can block the nasal passages and make them sneeze. It would be wise to seek a vet’s opinion if you think this is causing a serious problem.
The main concern is probably that in eating grass a cat may take in any chemicals that are on it. So, it is best to avoid putting any chemicals or insecticides on your lawn if you have seen your cat eating it.
If you do have to add some weedkiller or other chemical to your lawn once in a while then it is best to be safe and to keep your tortie inside for a little while. There is no doubt they will complain about it but try explaining to them it is for their own good!
There are various plants that are poisonous to cats. The lily is one of the commonest causes of poisoning but there are others and you can find a list on the charity Cats Protection’s website www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/home-and-environment/dangerousplants.
It is possible to buy small trays of grass to keep in your house if you are worried about your cat chewing your lawn.
No-one knows for sure why some tortoiseshell cats like to eat grass.
It should not be a problem as long as you avoid putting any chemicals or insecticides on your lawn and are aware of the plants that may be toxic to cats.