Is it okay if my cat eats dirt from my houseplant?

Our question this week was:

Hello Dr Debra, One of our kitties has begun eating dirt from one of my houseplants. She seems fine and doesn’t vomit or anything. However, we are puzzled as to why she might be doing this. Any ideas? Thanks so much.

Helen McKechnie


Hi Helen– thanks for your email. You wrote that one of your cats is eating dirt from one of your houseplants but seems fine.

It is good news that there are no other clinical signs of vomiting or diarrhea and that she appears to be in good health. The question is – is she doing it because of nutritional deficiency or is it a behavioral issue?

If you are feeding a good quality premium cat food, she should be getting all the vitamins and minerals she needs. If you are feeding a non-premium brand, I’d consider doing a gradual change to a premium food. You could also supplement with vitamins as an option.

Most of the time, if a cat is on a good diet, digging and eating dirt is a behavioral thing. Some cats are bored and some cats are just ornery. They find something they like to do and keep doing it. Sometimes they eat it – even for attention. I know a cat that loves to chew on artificial plant leaves WHEN SOMEONE IS WATCHING. He doesn’t eat them – he just does it for attention. He does it and looks at you out of the corner of his eye to make sure you are watching and has everyone trained to respond and tell him not to chew on the plants.

Make sure you don’t add any chemicals to the dirt or other treatments to the plants. You can try covering the base of the plant (the dirt) with aluminum foil to minimize the dirt access. You can keep the plants out of her reach as an option as well.

You may also try planting some cat grass – find an acceptable plant for her to chew on and dig. Some cats really enjoy cat grass and maybe this will give her what she needs.

An article that might be helpful to you is Growing Cat Grass.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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