Why do cats eat plants?

“I’m so boooreedd….”

As all cat owners who left their carefully prepared BLT alone on a table for any longer than 30 seconds are acutely aware of, cats love meat. Cats are natural carnivores, so why do they end up nibbling on your plants and grass in the first place? That’s what we’re going to explore in this article.

It’s useful to know why your cat might be nibbling on your plants, it’s not always the case that they’ll inevitably rip your green goods to bits. Unfortunately though, there is no full scientific consensus yet on why cats eat plants. Being carnivores, they shouldn’t need plant food, so what’s up with that? While we may not know completely, there are several ideas about why cats eat plants. I personally believe many of them have merit, and it’s worth taking the time to observe your cats carefully to find out what reasons fit them best.

Chewing out of boredom

Cats need something to do. This is especially true for indoor cats. When they’re not sleeping cats are fulllllll of energy. This energy needs to go somewhere. Playing, chewing, running, scratching, eating, climbing, jumping, hunting, fighting, socialising, … If your cat doesn’t have enough space or toys to fulfil their needs, they’ll find things to do for themselves.

Do you often find your cat chewing on your cables? Cats might be chewing on your plants for the same reason. They need something to chew on! If they don’t have enough toys, they’ll find their own!

Out of all the potential reasons for why your cats love to leave holes in your green leaves, this is the easiest to actively work around.

Make sure your cat has plenty toys to play with, and make sure to take some time out of your day to play with them yourself as well!

Get some ropes, a couple of fake mice and a nice fish on a stick, this will keep the boredom away.

For those of you where money is tight, toilet rolls, yarn, carton and even small sticks from outside are also great substitutes!

Calming the stomach

Anyone who’s ever been around an older or slightly ill dog has probably seen them suddenly chewing on grass out of nowhere. A couple hours later you’ll find a small foul smelling spot on the floor. Ew!

Just like dogs, cats will use their instincts to deal with their stomach issues. When we get a stomach bug, we’re told to eat lots of dry fibrous foods. Cats do the same. They’ll eat grass or other plantsy matter to fill their stomach, and sometimes to even intentionally upset their stomach so they can get the bad contents out quicker.

If this is the case for your cat, remember that throwing on a monthly basis is both natural and important for cats. Because of their cleaning rituals, hair will build up inside of them which needs to get out. Plantsy matter may also help upset their stomachs to induce their slightly nasty but important hairball ritual.

If this is the primary cause for why your cat is eating plants all the time, just keep in mind that this is most likely a temporary solution to an upset stomach. If you notice your cat is throwing up on a weekly (or even daily!) rather than a monthly basis, make sure to contact your vet. Better safe than sorry!

The 99% carnivore

This is one of the more scientific theories. Perhaps cats are not 100% carnivores, but rather are more 99% carnivorous. Plants carry a lot of useful vitamins, minerals and fibres. Maybe cats notice they’re missing a small amount of essential vitamins, and so they’re naturally attracted to eat a leaf of grass every other day or so.

The best thing for any cat that’s consistently enjoying a plant gourmet is to provide them with cat friendly plants. We will publish an article about this later, but for now, a quick google search will give you plenty of great suggestions!


Like humans, cats will act more strangely when they’re more anxious. When you’re anxious, you’ve probably noticed you’re pinching your fingers? Grinding your teeth? Eating more? Tapping nervously with your feet? Cats have similar behaviours.

One of these behaviours is chewing on things. And if plants are plentiful, those plants will be the unfortunate victim of choice 🙁

Where anxiety in cats comes from, and what you can do about it is an article on its own. For now, if it’s considerably bad, you can consider bringing it up with your vet. Otherwise, as is the case with most behavioural and emotional issues a cat may have, spending time socialising with them is one of the most important things you can do.

Personality, habits, exploration and fun

The last reason is the simplest, sometimes it’s just part of who your cat is. They’ll nibble on plants for fun, “this smells funny, I want to eat it!”.

Cats are naturally curious and explorative creatures, and sometimes brutally murdering green friends is just a part of who they are. You can’t really do anything about this, other than trying to keep them entertained with toys and play-time.

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