Ask Walter: Grass roots concerns
Ask Walter: Grass roots concerns
The new spring grass is so lush, I love its smell and the feel of it on my feet. I love to lie down on it… I even like to nibble it. Being a cat (and a carnivore) I find this newfound taste for vegetative matter a bit worrisome — should I be checked by my doctor?
My doofus dog housemate does his best impression of a cow, chowing down on the grass in our yard with abandon, and then, more often than not, coming inside and upchucking all over the kitchen floor. Disgusting. Dogs just have no impulse control or couth. No offense intended — you seem more catlike and sophisticated than the majority of your ilk. Perhaps it’s just the company I keep. I’m not generally permitted to choose my roommates, you understand.
So, is eating grass bad? Should we refrain? When I Google “grass” or “weed” on the internet, all kinds of stuff pops up. It seems when people imbibe it, they have a tendency to get in trouble, although some people use it medicinally. Some people use it medicinally AND get in trouble. Confusing.
OMG — could our lawn’s grass be ADDICTIVE? Are my fantastic dreams about bringing down mouse-sized gazelle drug-induced? While I enjoy a few bites of grass, I can stop anytime. I think. I’m pretty sure the butterflies I’ve been watching in the yard are totally real. But now, I’m getting a little freaked out. I don’t want to ruin the good gig I’ve got going: free room and board, endless lounging around, looking fierce as I do it. Wild fauna and the dog fear me, and I am loath to lose their respect.
I don’t want this eating grass thing to get out of hand — what if I end up like my idiot housemate? Will I start acting like a dog?! Should I seek counseling? Is there a support group for grass eating?
— Weed-Eaters Anonymous, Founding Member
Duuuuuude, it’s all good. Yes, you’re a cat and the epitome of class, and I know it’s hard to share a common interest with a dog, but eating grass in the backyard isn’t the worst vice you could have. I hear you cats tend to hit the hard stuff when you get the chance (flower bouquets, potted plants, herbs like catnip) and some of that paraphernalia is seriously dangerous. Lilies, for example, will kill you, and yet cats can’t seem to resist taking a big ol’ bite of them. While I admire your badassedness, nibbling lilies is just crazy, man.
The kind of grass you’re reading about on the internet is not the same stuff you’re grazing on in the backyard (I hope) and so no, it’s not addictive, and no, it’s not an hallucinogen, so you’re okay to ingest a bit of it without too many worries. If you eat enough of it, it’ll make you throw up. If you eat grass that has poo or other stuff on it, you can end up swallowing parasites, bacteria, or fungus, any of which can also make you sick in various ways.
Even carnivores have a taste for plants as a treat now and then, so you’re probably normal. That said, if you find yourself craving lots of stuff you never ate before, you may need to see the veterinarian, as there may be something wrong. Cats are curious, but once they reach adulthood, they tend to become much less adventuresome with diet, and much more discerning. A sudden change in appetites can be cause for concern.
Catnip, BTW, is not a grass, but an herb in the mint family. It seems to affect some cats (not all) and makes them act goofy, slobbery and pretty much drunk when they inhale its scent and/or eat it. (Huh, sounds a lot like your description of most dogs, which is offensive, I must say!)
Catnip’s effects are temporary, and most cats stop eating it when they’ve had enough, so it’s not considered addictive or toxic. Some cats are mean drunks, though, so people should use caution when hooking their cats up with the stuff.
The grass in our backyard is now officially over my head. I can’t even do my business without weaving through like I’m in a corn maze — pronking like an antelope is exhausting and I can only jump so high. When’s the boy gonna mow?
The boss lady’s been nagging him, but he says the mower won’t start. Likely story. Does he not know we are suffering? At least the sidewalks are still there to help us get our bearings. Perhaps we’ll get results if we refuse to do our business out there.
— Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.