Why do cats eat grass?

Kitten eats grass in yard
If your cat is an outdoor cat, you've likely seen him or her munching on grass. (Kuba Bożanowski/Flickr)

If your cat has spent any amount of time outdoors, chances are, you’ve seen him or her sniffing around the grass — and maybe even taking a nibble.

But why do cats eat grass? And is it harmful to them?

Like dogs, cats often vomit after eating grass, but while many pet owners see this as a sign of sickness, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your cat.

According to PetMD, cats sometimes chomp on grass for the nutrients. Even though they regurgitate the part they can’t digest, the juices from the grass still contain beneficial folic acid.

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However, if your cat needs a little help with indigestion, he or she may eat grass to aid in that.

“Grass nibbling may be of particular importance to outdoor cats who eat prey in order to get rid of any inedible parts that get swallowed (feathers, bones, etc.),” Cat Behavior Associates writes. “It can also be a way for a cat to get rid of some hair that gets swallowed during grooming, which may cut down on hairballs.”

Cat Behavior Associates recommends curating a potted plant of grass for your cat so you don’t have to worry about pesticides or any other chemicals that may be present in your lawn.

So it seems that grass is perfectly fine as an occasional snack for your furry friend, but should you ever be concerned?

If your cat starts eating much more grass than usual, it could be a sign of intestinal distress, says veterinarian Dr. Benjamin Hart of the University of California-Davis. In that case, pay extra attention to your cat and take him or her to the vet if necessary.

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