Why do cats chew on houseplants?

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Let’s face it, cats love nibbling on grass. It’s fresh, it’s living, it’s green, and it’s also a good digestive aid that helps them cough up hairballs or settle an upset tummy which can explain why many will “throw up” or regurgitate undigested matter after eating grass.  When indoor cats are unable to find grass to nibble on, they start chewing on the next best thing… your house plants and floral arrangements!

Why do cats chew on houseplants?

Several reasons why your cats may want to eat houseplants:

  • It’s a new toy. All a cat sees is “new toy” with lots of dangly things. Especially when that ‘toy’ is a hanging plant with pups or vines hanging down swaying with the air currents and begging to be played with. There’s nothing like movement to motivate a cat’s natural instinct to hunt, even if it is a leaf!
  • Boredom. Hey! It’s something to do and looks interesting.
  • Seeking Attention. The fastest way to get your attention is to start chewing on a plant. Cat is no longer ignored and you are speaking to them: “No! Bad Kitty!”
  • Angry with you. Yep, cats can get mad and want you to know it. You changed “our” routine, you didn’t play enough, you didn’t pull out fresh catnip, you didn’t clean my kitty box, where’s my tuna, my toys are stale, and the list goes on.
  • Satisfy a craving. They need more “fiber” or roughage in their diet. It could be the taste, texture, or freshness they crave or more likely the need to throw up (vomit). As gross as this may sound, many animals (including cats) have an internal sense of healing and curing themselves so when they need to clear their digestive track of hairballs, relieve an upset stomach, ease digestion or constipation, cats go for what’s available… your plants.
  • Pet Food. You cat’s pet food may not meet the nutritional needs for his/her life stage or activities so they’re trying to supplement a vitamin deficiency, minerals or even folic acid to make up for the imbalance. After all, cats do need some grains and veggies in their diet.
  • Call of the wild. When all else fails as an explanation it’s the ‘call of the wild’ or behavioral instinct! It’s fresh, green, living and smells great! Whether you can smell a scent or not, your plant may be giving off a scent or chemicals that only your cat can sense and is naturally drawn to. It’s an attraction passed down through generations dating back to their ancestors in the wild.

 

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