I know that some cats eat plant leaves and then vomit it to clean their digestive track.

But in case of my cat she is behaving almost as if she is a goat. I often see her eating young leaves and stems of flowering plants in garden. It is to such an extent that some herbs are without leaves in their lower portions.

To my astonishment, if I tear a young stem with young leaves and hold it in front of her, she ends up eating it fully. This behavior is almost akin to a goat.

Also she never vomits anything. She is in fine health. And in her litter box I never find any plant material.

I normally don't stay with my cat and she stays with my mom. She has been shifted to this new house 7 months back. Here she has access to the garden where there are lots of flowering plants with young leaves and stems. And my mom says that this behaviour of her is going on for the past 7 months.

So what exactly is happening? How can an obligate carnivore end up eating plants?

1 Answer 1


You're right that cats are obligate carnivores. Cats must eat meat, it is an absolute biological necessity. However, that does not mean that they can only eat meat. It means that they can't sustain themselves on only a vegetarian diet.

Cats are perfectly capable of eating things other than meat, as long as they receive the needed nutrition.

I know that some cats eat plant leaves and then vomits it to clean their digestive track.

Interesting to note here is that the instinct to eat grass is not (consciously) connected to the need to vomit. Cats simply have an instinct to eat grass, which is a trait they've received (evolutionarily) to help them deal with digestion.
Therefore, even a cat who doesn't need to vomit is liable to eat grass because their instinct tells them to.

Secondly, some cats have learned to eat many things. One of our cats was rescued from the streets as a young and severely underfed kitten. Unsurprisingly, he is the exact opposite of a picky eater: he tries everything at least once, and unless he really doesn't like it, he will always eat it when presented with it.

Whenever he sees me eat something, he knows that it is food, and therefore will ask to have some or at least try it when offered. This applies to medication too, which sort of proves the point that he's open to anything that he thinks must be edible.
I obviously don't offer my medication to the cat, but have actually tricked him into having his own medication by pretending to eat some of it myself.

  • Don't you think that there is a difference between consuming some plant and consuming abnormally high amount of plant? Notably, she is just fine when she has no access to plants. And she eats the most tender young portions of plant. Moreover she is an extremely picky eater. She eats only Whiskas company dry food and boiled fish. She does not eat Whiskas company wet food or any other company food, whether dry or wet. Nor does she eats boiled meat, white meat or red meat. She eats only boiled fish. However she eats sweets prepared from milk but never liquid milk.
    – Sonevol
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 15:36
  • @Sonevol I've had 8 cats in my life and all of them have had a different food preference. It's perfectly possible for your cat to like eating greens, even if not for nutritional reasons. If you're worried that there might be an underlying medical condition, consult a vet. But I don't think that your cat's behavior is a problem in and of itself.
    – Flater
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 16:50
  • As very specialized carnivores, cats have fewer chewing teeth and shorter guts than even other carnivores like dogs. Cats might sometimes have the inclination to eat plants, but they aren't really suited to digesting them at all. The impulse may even be similar to pica, which is the impulse to eat non-food objects. Many cats seem inclined to bite things that lightly brush their face, like hair, feathers, string, and so forth, and end up eating the thing that way. Perhaps plants are the same deal.
    – Kai
    Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 22:24
  • @Sonevol If "she eats the most tender young portions of plant" she might like the mouth feel of it. It might be her equivalent of a chewing gum.
    – Elmy
    Commented Nov 16, 2018 at 7:25

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