Can Cats Eat Hay?

No, cats can’t eat hay, because it has no nutritional value for them and can cause digestive problems.


Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need animal protein to survive and thrive. They have evolved to digest meat, not plant matter. Hay is a type of dried grass that is often used as bedding or food for herbivorous animals like rabbits, horses, and cows. But can cats eat hay? Is it safe or beneficial for them? In this article, we will answer these questions and more.

Nutritional Value

Hay has very little nutritional value for cats. It is mostly composed of cellulose, a type of carbohydrate that cats cannot digest. Hay also lacks essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that cats need. Cats can get all the nutrients they need from a balanced commercial cat food or a raw meat diet. So cats can’t eat Hay, because is not a suitable substitute or supplement for cat food.

Potential Risks

Feeding hay to cats can pose several risks to their health and well-being. Some of the potential risks are:

  • Choking hazard: Hay can be hard and sharp, and cats may choke on it if they try to swallow it whole. Hay can also get stuck in their teeth, gums, or throat, causing pain and infection.
  • Digestive problems: Hay can irritate the cat’s digestive tract, causing inflammation, diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting. Hay can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients from other foods, leading to malnutrition or weight loss.
  • Allergic reactions: Some cats may be allergic to hay or the dust and mold that may be present in it. This can cause sneezing, coughing, itching, or skin rashes.
  • Behavioral issues: Cats may develop a preference for hay over their normal food, resulting in a poor appetite or anorexia. Cats may also become bored or frustrated with hay, leading to stress or aggression.

How to Serve Safely Hay to Cats

There is no safe way to serve hay to cats. Cats can’t eat hay and should be avoided at all costs. If you have hay in your home for other animals, make sure to keep it away from your cat’s reach. Also if you suspect that your cat has eaten hay, monitor them closely for any signs of distress or discomfort. If you notice any symptoms of choking, digestive problems, allergic reactions, or behavioral issues, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Serving Suggestions about Hay

Since hay is not safe for cats, you should not offer it to them at all. Instead, you can provide them with other types of food and treats that are suitable for their dietary needs and preferences. Some of the serving suggestions are:

  • Meat: Meat is the best food for cats, as it provides them with high-quality protein and other essential nutrients. You can feed your cat cooked or raw meat, such as chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, or fish. Avoid feeding your cat bones, fat, salt, spices, or sauces that may harm them.
  • Cat food: Cat food is specially formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of cats. You can choose from dry or wet cat food, depending on your cat’s preference and dental health. Make sure to follow the feeding instructions on the label and consult your veterinarian if you have any questions.
  • Cat treats: Cat treats are a great way to reward your cat or bond with them. You can give your cat treats that are made from meat, fish, cheese, eggs, or fruits. Avoid giving your cat treats that contain chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, or xylitol, as these are toxic for cats.
  • Cat grass: Cat grass is a type of wheatgrass that is safe and beneficial for cats. It can help them with digestion, hairball prevention, dental health, and stress relief. You can grow your own cat grass at home or buy it from pet stores. Make sure to wash the cat grass before giving it to your cat and limit the amount to avoid overeating.

Special Considerations

Some cats may have special dietary needs or restrictions due to their age, health condition, or lifestyle. For example:

  • Kittens: Kittens need more protein and calories than adult cats to support their growth and development. They should be fed kitten food until they are one year old.
  • Senior cats: Senior cats may have less appetite and energy than younger cats. They may also have dental problems or chronic diseases that affect their digestion. They should be fed senior cat food that is easy to chew and digest and has lower calories and higher fiber.
  • Pregnant or nursing cats: Pregnant or nursing cats need more protein and calories than normal cats to support their babies. They should be fed kitten food or high-quality adult cat food throughout their pregnancy and lactation.
  • Obese or diabetic cats: Obese or diabetic cats need to lose weight and control their blood sugar levels. They should be fed low-calorie and low-carbohydrate cat food and have regular exercise and portion control.
  • Allergic or sensitive cats: Allergic or sensitive cats may have adverse reactions to certain ingredients in cat food or treats. They may experience itching, vomiting, diarrhea, or breathing difficulties. They should be fed hypoallergenic cat food or a limited ingredient diet that avoids the allergens.

Expert Opinion

Most veterinarians and experts agree that hay is not suitable for cats and should not be fed to them. According to Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinary advisor for PetMD, “Hay is not a natural part of a cat’s diet and has no nutritional value for them. It can also cause choking, digestive upset, allergies, and behavioral problems. Cats should be fed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that meets their specific needs and preferences.”


In conclusion, cats can’t eat hay, because it has no nutritional value for them and can cause various health and behavioral issues. Hay is not a food for cats and should be avoided at all costs. Cats should be fed a balanced diet that consists of meat, cat food, cat treats, and cat grass. If you have any questions or concerns about your cat’s diet, consult your veterinarian for advice.


1. Why do cats eat grass?

Cats eat grass for various reasons, such as aiding digestion, preventing hairballs, cleaning their teeth, or satisfying their curiosity. Grass is different from hay, as it is fresh and moist and has some nutritional benefits for cats.

2. What are the signs of hay allergy in cats?

Some of the signs of hay allergy in cats are sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching, skin rashes, or hives. If you notice any of these signs in your cat after exposure to hay, contact your veterinarian for treatment.

3. How much hay can a cat eat?

There is no safe amount of hay that a cat can eat. Hay is not a food for cats and should not be given to them at all. Even a small amount of hay can cause choking, digestive problems, allergic reactions, or behavioral issues in cats.

4. Can I use hay as bedding for my cat?

No, you should not use hay as bedding for your cat. Hay can be dusty and moldy and can irritate your cat’s skin, eyes, nose, and lungs. Hay can also attract pests and parasites that can harm your cat. You should use a soft and clean material such as fleece, cotton, or wool as bedding for your cat.

5. What are some alternatives to hay for my other pets?

If you have other pets that need hay as part of their diet, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, or horses, you can look for alternatives that are safer and healthier for them. Some of the alternatives are timothy hay, orchard grass, oat hay, alfalfa hay, or bermuda grass. You should also provide them with fresh water and other foods that are appropriate for their species.

6. Can I compost hay that my cat has eaten?

No, you should not compost hay that your cat has eaten. Hay that has been ingested by your cat may contain bacteria, parasites, or toxins that can contaminate your compost pile and harm your plants or soil. You should dispose of the hay in a sealed bag or bin.

7. How can I prevent my cat from eating hay?

The best way to prevent your cat from eating hay is to keep it away from them. Store the hay in a closed container or a separate room that your cat cannot access. If you have other animals that need hay, feed them in a different area than your cat. You can also provide your cat with toys or activities that keep them entertained and distracted from the hay.

8. What should I do if my cat eats hay?

If your cat eats hay, you should monitor them closely for any signs of distress or discomfort. If you notice any symptoms of choking, digestive problems, allergic reactions, or behavioral issues, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian may perform a physical examination, blood tests, x-rays, or endoscopy to diagnose the problem and provide treatment.

9. Is straw the same as hay?

No, straw is not the same as hay. Straw is the dried stalks of cereal plants such as wheat or barley that are left after the grains are harvested. Straw is used as bedding or insulation for animals or humans.

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