The good news is that your cat is behaving like a perfectly normal, well-adjusted feline. Cats have a natural instinct to eat grass and other plants; they provide fiber that soothes kitty stomachs, aids in digestion, promotes vomiting if it’s needed, and simply gives cats something pleasant to nibble on.
The bad news is that it’s nearly impossible, not to mention possibly unhealthy, to teach an animal to ignore her instincts. It’s much, much easier to let your cat be a cat by growing her some plants it’s okay to eat. You can buy seeds for cat-friendly plant mixes in many pet stores. Wheat grass, bird seed sprouts, and catnip are also good alternatives. You can make your kitty her own private garden by growing any of these plants, or a combination of them, in a window box or large pot away from your other plants.
Hopefully, these greens will be so tempting that she’ll have no desire to go after your other, more decorative plants. If she still needs a little extra nudge to keep her away from the philodendron, you can dab the leaves with something that has a bitter taste, such as white vinegar or one of the animal deterrent sprays available from some pet stores and plant nurseries. You may want to do some research first, however. Some sprays can be harmful to some plants.
Finally, don’t dismiss the power of keeping kitty distracted. You’ll do your plants a great service by making sure your cat has plenty of toy mice, plastic balls, bells, and scratching posts to keep her busy. When you see her going for a plant, try waving a chase toy at her or rolling a ball in her direction. Most likely, she’ll see it as a much more fun alternative.
The Companion Animal Behavior Program at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is currently conducting a study of grass and plant eating behavior in cats (and dogs). Many theories as to why cats eat plants have been proposed. However, this is the first scientific study to investigate this common behavior.
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Cat Plant Eating Survey