Wheatgrass isn’t just for human fitness and health enthusiasts anymore; these nutrient-rich greens are among the most common types of cat grass. Yes! Your kitty companion, little carnivores that they are, can graze on these powerful plants and reap benefits from them too.
Here’s the scoop on cat grass and why you should consider adding it to your kitty’s diet and lifestyle.
What is cat grass?
Cat grass itself isn’t a single plant. More often than not, cat grass is actually a catchall for several different types of grasses. The most popular cat grasses for felines are grown from cereal grains like rye, barley, oat, wheatgrass, and even alfalfa.
Cyperus Zumula is another type of cat grass. Unlike cereal grain cat grasses, this stylish, refined-looking, plant goes well with home decor.
Are cat grass and catnip the same?
No! While both cat grass and catnip appeal to cats, they’re very different.
Catnip, also known as Nepeta cataria, is an herb that comes from the mint family.
Loaded with brain receptor triggering chemicals known as nepetalactones, catnip is notorious for setting off hyperactive behavior in cats.
As we’ve covered above, cat grass is often a medley of cereal grains and grasses like barley, rye, wheatgrass, and alfalfa. Unlike catnip, cat grass doesn’t have a psychoactive effect on cats’ brains or act as a stimulant.
What are the benefits of cat grass?
Although cats are obligate carnivores, they benefit from eating some plant proteins and greens, like cat grass. After all, in the wild, cats prey on rodents who often have some grasses and plant matter in their stomach when cats eat them.
Cat grass brings micronutrients into your kitty’s diet. Namely vitamins A, B, and D. It’s also a good source of folic acid which impacts your kitty’s hemoglobin and red blood cell production.
Cat grass is also packed with chlorophyll, an anti-inflammatory pain reliever, and breath freshener!
The fibrous cat grass composition can also help your feline friend’s digestive system and gastrointestinal tract out.
Cat grass is also entertaining for some cats. It’s a source of environmental enrichment, especially for indoor-only cats who may otherwise not be able to explore plants or greenery.
Is cat grass suitable for cats?
Yes! As we’ve explored above, cat grass is suitable for cats both physically and in terms of mental stimulation.
Cat grass’s “roughage” can reduce hairballs and constipation, its chlorophyll can act as a mild pain reliever, and it’s an excellent natural source of nutrients like vitamin A and D, which support healthy vision, bones, and immune system.
Cat grass is also an excellent way to engage your cat and encourage them to interact with their surroundings. Boredom (and its resulting behavioral problems) is a massive problem for indoor-only cats. Cat grass is a source of entertainment or environmental enrichment.
Why do cats eat grass?
There are a few reasons why cats eat grass.
Some cats will chew on grass purely for the sake of entertainment or pleasure—especially indoor kitties who may be encountering cat grass for the first time.
Other times cats will eat or chew on grass if they’re feeling unwell.
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences clinical associate professor Dr. Lori Teller says cat grass can “act as a mild laxative or trigger vomiting.”
Teller continues that cats eat grass to “rid their stomachs of the non-digestible parts of the prey they ingested.” Cats also gravitate towards cat grass to help them expel intestinal parasites.
Cats suffering from injuries or illnesses could also be instinctively drawn to eating grass because its anti-inflammatory properties ease their pain.
Is it safe?
Yes, cat grass is safe. But, there are some situations where cat grass can become a danger to your kitty. Such as if it’s chemically treated, contaminated, or if your cat overindulges in it.
Chemically treated cat grass is a danger in and of itself. Exposure to pesticides can have serious consequences for your cat.
Contaminated cat grass also poses a risk. Cat grass growing in bacteria-infested water or that is moldy can seriously harm your kitty. It could cause damage to their digestive and immune system and potentially end in hospitalization or death.
Cats who overeat cat grass could also develop health problems. Because felines don’t have enough digestive enzymes to break down large amounts of plant matter, eating too much of it can lead to intestinal blockages, vomiting, and frequent regurgitation.
Another potential problem is that cats aren’t always the best at picking out what plants are poisonous for them to nibble on and which aren’t. For a list of plants that are toxic to cats check out our article on “How to Keep Cats Out of Plants.”
It’s only too easy for a cat who is used to grazing on cat grass to start chewing on toxic lilies or grassy lawns infested with parasites.
Where can I get cat grass?
You can find pre-grown cat grass, cat grass seed, and cat grass kits in various places. Try checking pet supplies stores, gardening centers, home improvement retailers, and supermarkets.
You can also find cat grass online, in pet stores, and in specialty shops like organic and natural grocery stores.
How do I grow cat grass?
You can grow cat grass indoors year-round. Start by choosing a planter or pot with good drainage. This is essential because it ensures that your grass won’t get moldy.
Growing cat grass indoors
- Fill your planter or pot ¾ full with potting soil. Sprinkle the cat grass seeds* evenly on the surface, cover them with another ¼ inch of potting soil and spritz them with water from a spray bottle.
- Loosely cover this container with plastic wrap, and keep it out of direct sunlight at room temperature. Spritz daily with water until the seeds sprout.
- When seeds spout, between 3 to 7 days after planting, remove the plastic wrap and move the container to an area that receives direct sunlight.
- Spritz the grass daily until the soil is just moist.
- When the grass is about 4 inches tall, about 10 to 14 days after planting, it’s ready for your kitty to chew on!
*You can presoak the seeds by pouring them into a bowl of water and covering them for 4 to 6 hours before planting them in the soil. This helps them germinate more quickly.
Growing cat grass outdoors
You can grow cat grass outdoors in your garden or create a designated cat grass garden just for your kitty. The most important factor, in this case, is to wait until mid-spring until the danger of frost has passed. You want the soil to be in full sun and at mild temperatures.
- Start by clearing out a patch of dirt that isn’t treated with chemicals or pesticides. Check it for potentially dangerous bugs or parasites and weed the patch to remove any debris.
- Lay down 6 to 8 inches of organic soil and work it into the ground, leveling it out until it’s smooth.
- Bury the cat grass seeds into the soil about ¼ of an inch deep and in rows that are 1 inch apart. Gently pat the soil down when done.
- Water the patch until the soil is just moist.
- Cat grass seedlings emerge within 7 to 14 days.
Taking care of cat grass
Cat grass is very easy to take care of, even if you’re notoriously known for failing at keeping even a cactus alive.
Indoor cat grass
Needs daily sunlight, spritzes of water, and re-seeded every two weeks or so. Be sure to pull out wilted, yellowing, or dying shoots of grass to ensure the plant’s overall health.
The most important thing to keep an eye out for is mold. Overwatering cat grass and using planters or pots that don’t have good drainage can grow mold that makes your cat seriously ill. A good tip is to touch the soil regularly. If it feels dry, gently mist it with water until it’s just moist, not soggy.
Outdoor cat grass
Needs to be lightly watered until the soil is just moist. Regularly trim the grass and plant more seeds every other week or so to keep the crop large and healthy. It’s essential to keep an eye out for fungus, mildew, and insects like ticks that can spread disease and weed regularly.
Does cat grass grow back?
While cat grass does grow back if you’re growing it indoors, it’s best to make use of multiple planters.
Typically a “crop” of cat grass lasts about three weeks. But, if your cat (or cats) are particularly enthusiastic and mow it down to the dirt, it’s a good idea to start growing new cat grass in different planters.
Dr. Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, suggests, “plant[ing] several pots [of cat grass] about a week apart and rotate them to provide a constant source of fresh grass.”
For outdoor cat grass, you can regularly plant more seeds every other week or so.
Our favorite cat grasses
Looking into growing some cat grass? Great! Your best bet is to start with a cat grass kit that contains organic and non-GMO seeds. The most common cereal crops that go into cat grass (like wheat, rye, and barley) are often treated with dangerous pesticides. This growing kit uses only USA-sourced, organic, and non-GMO seeds and grasses. Plus, it comes with a rustic wood planter that you can use to grow your grass!
- Contains organic and non-GMO cat grass seeds
- The seeds grow very quickly
- Planter comes in two different colors
- Makes a nice houseplant
- Made in the USA
- Some cats don’t like the taste of the grass
This bag of seeds from Handy Pantry features one type of organic grass: wheatgrass! That makes this product especially well, handy for cats who may have sensitivities or allergies to barley, oats, or rye. Wheatgrass also grows faster than other cat grasses and is very easy to care for, even if you don’t have a green thumb. These USA-grown, organic, and non-GMO cat grass only come as seeds, so you have the freedom to find a planter or pot!
- Organic and non-GMO wheatgrass seeds
- USA grown, harvested, and packaged
- Very easy to grow and care for
- Doesn’t come with a planter, pot, or soil
Indoor-only kitties rejoice! Back to the Root’s organic wheatgrass is simple to grow, and it thrives indoors. These USA-grown non-GMO seeds have rave reviews from cat parents who love how quickly the cat grass sprouts and how long the bag of seeds lasts. Back to the Roots’ organic cat grass grows in large quantities, making this brand especially good for multi-cat households.
- Organic and non-GMO wheatgrass seeds
- USA grown
- Grows extremely fast and in large amounts
- Very easy to care for
- The bag of seeds lasts a long time
- Doesn’t come with a planter, pot, or soil
Takeaways on cats and edible grasses
Simple to grow and care for and affordable, cat grass has multiple benefits for your feline friend’s mind and body.
Packed with potent micronutrients and providing a new source of environmental enrichment, cat grass is a wonderful addition to your kitty’s diet and lifestyle– especially if they’re experiencing digestive tract problems like frequent hairballs or if they’re indoor-only cats battling boredom.
So, move over, catnip! Whether it’s grown from cereal grains or the slightly more refined Cyprus zumula, cat grass might just become your little carnivore’s new favorite treat.
Last update on 2021-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API