Why Do Cats Eat Plants?

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Ah! Spring is in the air, flowers are growing outside, and you may have recently added a few plants to your home decor to enjoy the change of season. However, if you have a cat at home, you may need to think creatively about how to keep your vegetation from becoming a snack to your feline friend. Aren't cat supposed to be obligate carnivores? And if so, why do cats eat plants?

What makes plants so enticing?

There are many reasons why your cat may enjoy eating plants, whether that be in the home or while taking a leash walk outside. Although scientists don't know for certain, there are a few leading ideas:

Boredom- your cat may just be under-stimulated and looking for ways to have fun or get your attention. If your cat is looking for ways to entertain itself, especially while indoors, enjoying the stimulus of a new plant is a great way to change up its day. Plus, if you are too distracted to play, but stop to discourage your cat from eating your plant, this is still attention. Your cat may continue to bother your plant just to get you to shift your focus.

Anxiety- some cats may deal with anxiety and calm themselves through any number of behaviors. Chewing on plants, and other household items, could be a sign that your cat is trying to relax.

Gastrointestinal Health- plants provide excellent sources of fiber, which your cat may have a natural instinct to increase in its daily food intake. This could result in fulfilling any nutrient deficiencies in your cat's diet, aid in digestion, and maybe even help eliminate gut bacteria.

Taste and Texture- your cat might just enjoy the taste and texture of the plants in your home. Enjoying something novel, especially when it brings pleasure to the taste buds, is a behavior worth repeating!

What plants are dangerous for my cat?

There are many plants that could be dangerous for cats, including (but not limited to): Arrowhead Ferns, Avocado, Boston Ivy, Cactus, Caladium, Christmas Trees, Chrysanthemums, Creeping Figs, Crocus, Daffodils, Fox Gloves, Japanese Yew, Kalanchoe, Poinsettias, and especially all types of Lilies.

Keep in mind that any plant that has been treated with insecticide or other toxins should be kept away from your cat. When in doubt, keep it far away from your cat's reach! 

What plants are considered cat-friendly to have at home?

There are many common house plants that are typically considered safe for cats. These include, but are not limited to: African Violets, Bamboo, Begonias, Boston Ferns, Bromeliads, Camelia, Cornflower, Grape Hyacinth, Spider Plants, etc.

Although these plants are generally okay to have at home, please note that some cats may experience indigestion or discomfort after eating plants, which could result in them vomiting or having diarrhea. 

How can I get my cat to stop eating my house plants?

If you have house plants at home that your cat cannot seem to stop eating, there are a number of solutions you could try to keep your vegetation safe.  Try keeping your plants out of reach from your cat, such as on a high bookshelf or hanging hook. Or, keep your plants in a room or space that is inaccessible to your cat, such as a spare bedroom or porch. You could also spray your plants with a non-toxic substance that makes the plants unpalatable to your cat. Citrus fruits and cayenne pepper are detested by most cats and the smell is enough to keep them far away. Don't forget to give your cat lots of attention and playtime too! Sometimes, they may just be bored, so offering them alternative stimulation may be the trick to deterring them from nibbling on your plants.

What are healthy alternatives for cats who enjoy nibbling on plants?

For cat owners who want to give their cat healthy access to cat-friendly plants, there are a number of plants you can grow especially for them. Try planting some cat grass, wheat grass, or cat nip for your feline friend. Tending to your own sprouts will give you a sense of accomplishment, and your cat will love enjoying the fruits of your labor!

If you want to read more great cat articles about decoding cat behavior, health and wellness, and amazing cat travel destinations, check out our "All About Cats" section on our website.




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