Ever heard of the saying “A rolling cat stone gathers no moss?” If you’re uncertain whether something is beneficial or harmful to your cat, it’s best to err on the side of caution and steer your feline friend away from it.
The object in question today is the humble moss.
Moss is something that you can find growing almost anywhere that’s moist and shady.
It might seem harmless to the naked eye but is moss poisonous to cats?
The majority of moss species are safe and non-toxic to cats. But moss can cause a stomach upset when ingested or skin irritation upon contact.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of moss and its potential dangers to your beloved feline companion.
What Is Moss?
Moss has always been known as that green thing growing on rocks. But do you know if moss is classified as a plant or fungi?
Moss is a small, non-vascular plant that belongs to the family of Bryophyta. There are close to 25,00 different species of moss out there.
They lack specialized tissues for water and nutrient transport, such as xylem and phloem.
Moss reproduce via spores and not seeds. And they do not produce flowers or fruits.
These plants tend to grow as a colony and can be found in places that are damp and shady.
Is Moss Toxic To My Cat?
The majority of mosses are not toxic to cats so that’s certainly good to know.
But there is limited information on specific moss species that are toxic to cats.
It’s best to assume that any moss could be potentially harmful and keep your cat away from it.
Let’s go through the potential problems that moss can cause to your cat.
If you have ever touched moss before, it can feel rather hard and rough. It is made mainly of cellulose and lignin which is difficult to break down.
This is made worse by the fact that cats obligate carnivores and do not have the necessary enzymes to digest plant matter.
Furthermore, it is not possible to ascertain if the moss contains any chemical compounds that can be toxic to your cat.
Given that moss is hard to break down, it can start to turn into a blockage risk if your cat consumes a large quantity.
An intestinal blockage can be deadly if medical treatment is not given promptly.
Moss can develop in multiple layers and occasionally the lower layers undergo decomposition.
This can expose your cat to many types of harmful bacteria when ingested.
Common symptoms of gastrointestinal problems include:
- Throwing up
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
Sphagnum moss is a type of moss that is widely used in the flora industry.
One potential issue with sphagnum moss is its link to a fungal disease called cutaneous sporotrichosis.
This disease is known to cause ulcerous skin lesions and Sphagnum moss has been identified as a carrier of the sporotrichosis fungus.
This fungus can enter the cat’s body via a cut or broken skin.
It can lead to serious infections of the lungs, bones and central nervous system of the cat.
Allergies in cats are very common and your cat might be allergic to moss without even you knowing about it.
Common allergy symptoms include:
- Swollen and inflamed skin
- Excessive scratching
Why Is My Cat Eating Moss?
It might seem strange to see your cat sinking its teeth into moss but such behavior can be rather common.
Your Cat Likes The Texture
Your cat might have a preference for various textures and it’s attracted to the unique texture of moss which is moist and cushiony.
It may enjoy nibbling or pawing at the moss due to the tactile sensation it provides.
This texture may offer a different experience from the usual grass or plants it encounters in your garden.
Some Greens Might Be Good
Although cats are obligate carnivores, they are known to sometimes consume small amounts of grass or other plant materials.
There are some cats that enjoy eating cat grass every now and then which is totally safe for them.
Ingesting some plant matter might with digestion, act as a natural laxative or provide essential nutrients that are not found in their regular diet.
Curious Is Your Cat
Cats are naturally curious creatures and love to investigate new objects or environments by using their senses.
How many times has your cat gotten excited over a new plastic bag or box?
Every single time for my cat.
If your cat finds moss in your home or garden, its appearance, smell, or texture may intrigue them, leading to a curious bite.
Your Cat Has An Eating Disorder
There’s a big difference between a cat that likes eating moss and one that eats due to an eating disorder.
If your cat is the latter, the need to eat moss overrides its natural dietary instincts.
This eating disorder could be brought about by Pica.
Cats with Pica have the tendency to eat non-food items such as paper, metal, glass, plants, etc.
Don’t be surprised to find a cat with pica eating a gel window cling with great gusto.
It is a dangerous problem and can cause harm to your cat.
Pica can be caused by dietary issues, genetics, boredom and stress.
If you notice that your cat has been eating things that it shouldn’t, please take it to the vet for an examination.
How Do I Keep My Cat Safe From Moss?
If you are a cat owner, you can let out a sigh of relief knowing that moss is ok for cats.
But unless you are a certified botanist that specializes in mosses, I would still adhere to the saying “A rolling cat gathers no moss”.
Here are some ways that you can keep your cat moss free.
Use A Cat Leash
I am a huge advocate of always keeping our cats indoors. Allowing your cat to roam freely outside puts is a very bad thing to do.
The risk of your cat running away or getting hit by a car is just too great.
If you have a cat that enjoys the outdoors, make sure to keep your cat on a leash before going it.
With a leash, you can ensure that your cat doesn’t start eating moss when you guys are outside.
Remove The Moss
Make it a point to inspect areas of your home or garden that are dark and moist. These are hot spots for moss to grow.
Remove any that you find and recheck the areas every few weeks.
No Cats Allowed
If it isn’t possible to remove all traces of moss in your garden, you can consider putting up fences or obstacles that can prevent your cat from reaching them.
This applies to other plants that are toxic to cats as well.
Tempt Your Cat With Better Alternatives
If your cat enjoys a little side serving of ‘salad’, there are better alternatives out there.
I would highly recommend that you let your cat chew on cat grass instead which is known to be safe for cats.
Such grass can include:
- Barley grass
- Oat grass
- Rye grass
It is easy to start growing cat grass at home which only takes about a week or two to mature.
What Moss Is Safe For Cats?
The majority of mosses are safe for cats but the more common ones that you will hear about are:
- Irish moss
- Spanish moss
- Scotch moss
- Peat moss
- Reindeer moss
- Club moss
- Garden moss
These types of mosses come with unique appearances and properties.
They also are used for various purposes, such as gardening, decoration and even in traditional medicines.