Eating Strange Things

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Introduction

Grass eating occurs frequently among dogs and cats and it is thought to be normal behavior. Feral cats, (i.e. cats that roam free in the wild), eat grass almost daily and most domesticated cats, if given the opportunity, will eat grass and certain plants.

Why Cats Eat Grass

The reason for this activity is unknown, although some theories exist. Some experts feel that cats eat grass for nutritional reasons, such as adding fiber or bulk to the diet. Others feel that cats eat grass as a form of self-medication, called zoocognopharmacy. They theorize that cats eat broad-leafed grasses to take advantage of their laxative effects while narrow or sharp-leaved grasses or plants are ingested to act as emetics to make themselves vomit. Still others feel that cats eat grass as a tonic to settle their stomachs.
Whatever the reason, dogs and cats seem to enjoy this activity and owners can safely encourage this habit by providing sources of green vegetation. Cat owners can consider growing a small plot of lawn grass or wild oats that their cat can access or, if this is not possible, they can provide an occasional side dish of green vegetables like string beans. Dogs can also be provided with various green vegetables.
Eating one's own stool, a behavior also known as coprophagia, is common in dogs but very rare in cats. Dogs are notorious for eating things that humans find extremely distasteful, stool included. However cats do not normally eat their own stool, and when they do this type of behavior could be a sign of an underlying mental problem.
While the practice of coprophagia is rare in cats, it has been observed more often in younger cats and kittens. It is still a mystery why some cats engage in this type of behavior, but there are some theories as to why a cat may eat its own stool.

Why Cats Eat Poop

Cats that have been severely abused or kept in extremely unsanitary conditions with little food or water may have picked up the practice of coprophagia as a survival mechanism. Even though the cat is now in a safe place, it may still feel like it is necessary to eat its own stool.
Young cats and kittens may also develop coprophagia from a type of mental disorder. Cats are prone to developing mental disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, and coprophagia in cats could be a manifestation of some type of mental disorder. Kittens may also confuse their own stool with food, and it may take them awhile to realize that their stool is not food.
If our cat is eating its own stool, have your cat examined by a veterinarian to ensure first that no medical conditions are causing the behavior. Keeping the litter boxes clean, and making sure that your cat feels safe and secure in its environment, may help to reduce further incidences of coprophagia.

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