If you have accessible plants in your home, chances are good that your cat has tried to eat them. This may seem like a strange habit for a cat, who is an obligate carnivore by nature, but it’s actually very common and can be safe if you take appropriate precautions. Here are 6 reasons your cat likes to nibble on plants.
See the end of this article for resources that’ll help you decide which plants are safe for your cat and which are toxic.
#1 – Helps to induce vomiting
Cats are obligate carnivores, so their bodies don’t produce the enzymes that are necessary to break down plant matter. Since your cat can’t digest it, she’ll often vomit up any plant matter she eats. It may seem crazy that your cat would want to make herself vomit, but she will instinctually attempt to induce vomiting if she has an upset stomach.
#2 – Acts as a laxative
If your cat doesn’t vomit up the plant matter, you can be sure it’ll come out the other end. Groomed fur that doesn’t come out in the form of hairballs will move through your cat’s digestive tract and may make her feel “backed up” every once in a while. Eating plant matter is a great way to get things moving.
#3 – Wiggles like prey
The leaves or vines of plants can wiggle in the same way a snake might, which can drive your cat’s prey instincts wild.
#4 – Pleasurable texture
Plants have textures that your cat doesn’t experience in her regular diet. Experiencing new textures can be very interesting for a curious cat and plants can feel good in her mouth.
#5 – Tastes good
Your cat won’t want to eat a salad at every meal, but she may find a particular plant to be rather tasty as an occasional snack.
#6 – Fun effect
Some plants, like catnip for instance, can have side effects that can make your cat feel very good.
While some plants are perfectly safe and can have healthy benefits for your cat, many common houseplants are toxic. Please refer to these great resources from the ASPCA before giving your cat access to any plants in your home.