Why do cats eat houseplants?

tabby cat smelling a large sunflower

I love having fresh cut flowers in my home. Succulents and other houseplants are also really popular right now. But unless I want them chewed on, all the plants have to stay in a room, where the cats don’t go. Otherwise, those flowers and living plants are getting eaten.

Hopefully you know that some plants are toxic to cats and you don’t keep those in your home. Lilies, for example, are really dangerous and should be kept far away from your pets. But some plants are safe and healthy for your cats to munch on. Perhaps the most common is grass.

Featured solution is the Looper - a versatile cat wand toy attachment

But what we don’t know is why cats like to eat greenery. There are several relatively well-supported theories, but no conclusive scientific evidence. Some vets believe cats get extra niacin from eating grass. Others think it serves a practical function of helping them to expel hairballs. Or it might just be feline curiosity or a way to clean their teeth.

Personally, I think cats like it because they like the taste, texture, and instinctual satisfaction they get from it.

One study from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine revealed that cats seem to eat more non-grass plants than dogs do, but overall grass eating is less common in cats. Illness and vomit induction do not seem to be root causes. Their sample size was relatively small, but they concluded that plant eating is most likely instinct.

So if your cat loves to eat plants, get them some fresh grass to eat. You can find cat grass at most pet stores, but you can also grow it yourself or let your cats go outside to munch on grass from your backyard. The only form of grass that is not safe for cats is grass from lawns that have been treated with chemicals.

Of course, the safest way to provide grass for your cat is to grow it yourself. And it’s super easy. A blend of rye, wheat, oat, and barley from seed is readily available on the internet and in plant nurseries. It is affordable, grows quickly, and cats love it.

orange and white long haired tabby cat looking at camera with tongue out


1 comment

  • Jennifer

    I’ve seen Tink eat grass at times that I know she’s hungry and doesn’t have access to cat food yet, Ishe will seek out available cat grass and start grazing on it. I’ve also seen her munch on a fake plant that is in our photo studio. I’m guessing that this behavior may be in association with simply being in the photo studio, as that is a location where she is given treats: she already shows that she associates the location with eating. The thing that drives me nuts is the cats rarely will eat the wheat grass or oat grass I grow or bring home for them: they want to go outside and eat ornamental grass or the neighbor’s lawn.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published