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My Cat is Chewing on My Plants! Should I Be Worried?

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe


Being one of the deadliest hunters on earth, it’s no secret that cats mainly munch on meat. But what most people don’t know about these magnificent creatures is that they also enjoy feasting on some greens from time to time.

If you accidentally catch your feline pet ravaging the plants in your garden, cast all your worries away because this seems to be a common thing among cats. Yes, even the disgusting grass puke that follows such an act is unexplainably normal.

While experts are yet to determine the reason for cats’ uncharacteristic chewing of plants, many theories have been formulated as to why they exhibit this particular behavior.

Nutrient Deficiency

As one of the true carnivores, cats are designed to digest large amounts of protein in a single feeding. However, just like humans, they also tend to seek what they lack – including some nutrients that are deficient in their system.

One of the most common beliefs as to why cats eat plants, especially grass, is because they contain a variety of nutrients including folic acid which helps produce hemoglobin in the blood and an essential vitamin that helps with many bodily functions.

Many plants also contain vitamins A and D as well as niacin. The chlorophyll in plants also helps in oxygenating the blood.

Vomit Reflex Trigger

Another possible reason why cats ingest grass and various other plants is to trigger their vomit reflex. When cats groom themselves, the hook-like structures in their tongues enable them to comb their fur and dislodge hair.

Unfortunately, they also often ingest some of the hair. While hair mostly passes through a cat’s system, there are also quite a lot that remains stuck in the stomach causing the formation of a hairball.

Furthermore, cats are known to eat their prey as they are – fur, feathers, and bones included. Because of this, they aren’t able to fully digest all the parts of their food, hence the need to expel said remains from their bodies.

By ingesting grass and other plants, cats are able to trigger their vomit reflex and expel the hairball or whatever remains in their system. The whole process may be unbearable but the comfort and relief the act provides cats afterward are definitely worth the effort.

Stress & Anxiety

Since cats do not naturally eat plants, the very act itself may be a sign of anxiety or stress. When cats feel anxious or stressed, they may exhibit bouts of stress eating as a way to relieve themselves. It just so happened that plants are one of the easiest to munch on due to your cats’ ease of access to your garden.

Plant-eating caused by stress and anxiety usually comes with other behavioral signs such as the distancing of the cat from its owner and aggressive behavior. When you notice these signs, you should immediately consult your vet or an animal behaviorist to determine the root cause of these problems.

Is It Harmful?

When it comes to eating grass, the act itself is not normally harmful to cats. But, there are some plants that can be toxic to cats.

Plants like daffodils, tulips, and sweet peas are highly poisonous to cats. Azaleas, chrysanthemums, and lilies also have the same unfortunate effects on your feline pets so it would definitely be wise to keep your cat away from them.

Along with knowing your plants, you should also know which ones could potentially kill your cat. What’s more is that the pesticides and insecticides you use on your plants can also prove fatal to cats which is why you should take the necessary steps to keep your garden and your pet safe.

Keeping Your Cat Away From Your Plants

While you can decide to place safe plants only inside your house, the outdoors is something you have less control of. Since cats are curious and playful by nature, you can’t really keep them away from the great outdoors and all the risks that the outside world brings. But there are ways you can use to deter your furry pet away from your plants.

  • One of the best ways to keep your cat away from the plants is by using a deterrent. There are many deterrents in the market today that are considered safe to use such as Bitter Apple. Spraying it on your plants will give a smell that is repulsive to them but in a way that is also unnoticeable by humans. These are also safe for plants.
  • If you can’t prevent your cat from chomping down on some fresh greens, you can try using alternatives to make sure that what your cat ingests is safe for it to eat. These safe alternatives come in the form of commercial potted cat grass – usually bought from a pet store.

Catnips would also be very much appreciated by your pet and the best part about it all is that they’re quite easy to plant and grow in your own backyard.

  • Startling your cat whenever it tries to eat plants can also help keep them away. When your cat is about to munch on the greens, do not yell at it but rather, make sounds using a can of pennies or maybe even use a squirt gun.

However, you must do that in a way that would make the cat associate your actions with the act of eating plants and not with yourself.

  • When all else fails, taking your pet to a behavior specialist would be the best course of action.

In a nutshell, cats will always be cats. While predominantly carnivorous, they would always chomp on some plant whenever given the chance. Your responsibility now is on making sure that when they chomp, they chomp the right plant, else, you will have an emergency meeting with your veterinarian if they come across a plant that’s toxic to them.

So, with all these unsafe plants out of the way, go ahead. Have them eat plants. After all, what harm can a little green plant do?


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