Why Does My Cat Eat Plants?

Cat Eating Plants

Some cats don't even seem to be aware of the potted plants you might have while others might seem like they are addicted to chewing on them. So what gives? Cats don't eat the plants, they just seem to chew on them. So why the fascination?

In case you didn't know, cats are obligate, or true carnivores. This means that they do not need any nutrition from plants or greens. Ever. And they absolutely cannot be made to be vegetarian. Their bodies cannot get the nutrients they need from meat substitutes or plants.

If this is the case, why do some cats absolutely love chewing on plants? Most veterinarians will tell you that cats enjoy the texture or the feel of fiber in their mouth. This is why plants such as spider plants, or in the case of my childhood cat Pepper, dry leaves from dead plants, are particularly popular.

Most plants will cause some sort of drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats but will not kill them. If your cat really loves chewing on plants, you should look into getting some cat grass for them to chew on on a regular basis, or other plants that are mostly safe.


  • Spider plant
  • Wandering Jew
  • Christmas cactus
  • Bromeliads


  • True Lilies (this includes Tiger lilies, Day lilies, Asiatic hybrid lilies, Japanese show lilies, Easter lilies, Rubrum lilies, Stargazer lilies, Red lilies, Western lilies, Wood lilies)
  • Cardiac glycosides like foxglove, lily of the valley, kalanchoe, Japanese yew, etc. are also very dangerous. Most of these grow outside, but it’s important you know the name of every plant that you bring into your house. This type does not cause kidney failure, but can cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias and death when ingested by dogs or cats.
  • Other common houseplants that cats like to chew on are Dieffenbachia or philodendron. These plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate—not soluble calcium oxalate (like so many websites erroneously mention) which causes oral pain when chewed on. This isn’t life-threatening, however, and typically results in foaming and frothing at the mouth. My advice is to keep these plants elevated and out of reach. If your cat does get into one, contact your veterinarian. She may suggest that you offer something tasty to flush out the mouth: a small amount of chicken broth, canned tuna water (not oil!), or even chicken noodle soup. If your cat continues to vomit, a veterinary visit is a must.


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