During a veterinary visit we often ask for what kind of food the animal we are visiting usually has and if he may eat a lot grass. The question can sound as off, but it isn’t. In fact the answer is very often positive both for cats and dogs, though these last ones are strictly carnivore. The reasons why our pets do that are several and some, I admit it, are still unknown to us human.
However animals instinctively recognize toxic or poisoning plants and don’t eat them ( I invite you to read the article where I specifically talk about potentially dangerous plants that can be inside houses or gardens). We think that the dog uses the grass to get rid of gastric content. In this case he chooses just grass of good consistency to use the abrasive and irritating action and thus cause the vomit.
In other cases, the dog adopts this technique to use the purgative power of fibers that act on the intestine tract.
If these behaviors are occasional, there is nothing to worry. But it will be better not to make them “ browse “ in the fields, in roads with a lot of traffic on in the city to avoid that they “browse” plants in which the buildup of lead and pollutants, even if superficial, is great. If it happens more often instead, it is better to make assessments to exclude pathologies or behavior alterations.
For cat it is another story instead.
Also cats can sometimes eat grass against gastric pains, but it is not the only one reason they do. Our cats find in some plants or herbs even a relaxing, euphoric and sexually exciting power.
We all know the “cat grass” sold in supermarkets too and not only in petshops, already in pots ready to sprout or like seeds. Though some cats eat the one that is on sale voraciously, though useful, it is not the beloved grass by cats.
The one that is instead considered like a “ drug” ( don’t worry, no toxic effect or addictions) is a similar plant to the mint for the shape of the leaves and for the perfume; just for these two reasons it is also known as “cat mint”. Its scientific name is Nepeta Cataria, Labiatae family, in English Catnip (boccone del gatto). It is an indigenous plant from Europe and Western Asia and it is spread al lover in Italy, except Sicily and Sardinia, above all in the hill areas. You can also find it on sale, dried and packed in small cushions like “ feline strength integrator”.
The cat smells, licks and bites the leaves, he rubs chin and cheeks and then rolls on the whole plant with big enthusiasm. In some subjects it is given the extract to, we can notice sexual excitement. The effect ends after about 10 minutes to leave place a the usual cleaning session.
Another stimulating plant for the cats is the common valerian that we use for herbal tea or fresh in salad. Cats love it and they it with greed. Try and give them a few while preparing the salad for you, he will enjoy a lot!
Then, the olive with its strong poker, is a plant very loved by cats in all its parts, from trunk to leaves and fruits. Try and bring your cat near to a true not treated olive too or to wet a toy with some drops extra-virgin oil and.. you will see him getting crazy of joy.
Not all individuals are sensitive to these plants. Actually only 50% of cats answer the stimulus of these plants, above all of the Nepeta, and some may rest totally indifferent.
Probably, since they don’t live wild outside anymore but in a domestic space, they have lost the capability of recognizing these inebriating smells.
It is not strictly needed to have these fragrances at home, but they will be liked for sure.