What Is Cat Grass?

What Is Cat Grass?

Cat Grass: Cat parents, did you know that your little meat eater may like some vegetation in her diet? That’s right, she may enjoy having cat grass. Despite being obligate carnivores (that is, they have to eat meat in order to get their necessary nutrients), cats like to munch on plants for a variety of reasons. But what is cat grass, you may be asking? And is it safe for my fur baby? It’s always best to check with your vet before allowing your cat to feed on anything, but you can learn a little more about this interesting feline salad green.

Cat grass is not a specific kind of plant, but a grass mixture that is grown from seeds, such as wheat, barley, oats or rye. It’s not to be confused with the grass outdoors in your lawn, which has the potential to contain toxic pesticides. Cat grass is grown indoors specifically for household pets.

What Is Cat Grass?

Cat Grass Seeds

Nibbling on grass is a natural behavior for all cats. If you have an outdoor cat, chances are it’s part of your kitty’s daily routine. But if your pet spends all of its time indoors (like most domestic cats), you may want to consider growing cat grass in your home.

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

“Research has not yet shown why cats eat grass, but we have several ideas,” said Carlo Siracusa, animal behaviorist of University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “In the wild, cats eat grass after they have eaten their prey. In many cases, the grass causes the cat to vomit. We believe this is nature’s way of helping the cat expel the parts of their prey that are indigestible.”

Even if your indoor cat has never caught a mouse or bird, she will instinctively be attracted to cat grass. Why? “It’s a behavioral instinct,” Siracusa says. “Grass is also a form of fiber that helps cats either throw up hairballs or digest them by acting as a laxative.”

Another theory is that cats may eat grass for some trace minerals and the vitamins A and D. Grass also contains chlorophyll, which, before the discovery of antibiotics, was a remedy for pain, infection, ulcers, skin diseases and anemia. Grass also contains folic acid, which helps with the production of hemoglobin, the protein that moves oxygen into the blood to help kitty’s circulation. Plus, there’s the benefit of breath cleansing chlorophyll.

Not to be confused with catnip, which is a member of the mint family, cat grass is typically grown from rye, barley, oat or wheat seeds. You will find a variety of kitty grass kits at your local pet store, which contain everything you need, including seeds, soil and a potting container. All you’ll need to provide is water and sunlight, and within one week, your cat will have her very own organic garden for safe, healthy nibbling.

“Cat grass is safer than outdoor grass which may have been chemically treated with pesticides,” Siracusa said. “It also gives your cat a healthy alternative to nibbling on houseplants and flowers, many of which are toxic to cats.”

Talk to your veterinarian before you bring any flowers or plants, including cat grass kits, into your home.

What Is Cat Grass

What Is Cat Grass

Just because your cat loves her chicken, beef, and tuna meals doesn’t mean she wouldn’t also love to sink her teeth into something a little more green and leafy. That’s where cat grass comes in. “I like it as a micro nutrient source for cats,” says Mark Waldrop, DVM, of the Nashville Cat Clinic. “It can add insoluble fiber, which can help with hair balls, and it’s a good environmental enrichment for cats.”

Although some people use the terms catnip and cat grass interchangeably, cat grass typically refers to a mix of oat, rye, barley, and wheat grasses, according to the Humane Society.

Keep in mind that if you will be growing cat grass indoors, it can be hard for kitties to distinguish the difference between what they can and should eat (the cat grass you’re so lovingly growing), and other plants and flowers that may be toxic to them (like these). Never keep poisonous plants or flowers in an area where your cat can easily get to and ingest them.

How to Grow Cat Grasses

If you like the idea of growing your own cat grass, fear not — you don’t necessarily need to have a green thumb to do so. “Cat grass is pretty simple to grow,” said Waldrop. “Drop the seeds in soil and add water. Keep the soil moist and in ten days or so offer it to your cat. I recommend [growing in] a low, heavy container, as they will be less likely to get knocked over.”

To start your garden off on the right foot — and to keep it thriving — the Humane Society suggests the following specific tips:

  1. Fill your heavy container about ¾ full of loose potting soil and sprinkle your seeds of choice evenly over the surface, then cover with about ¼-inch of soil.
  2. Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature and away from direct sunlight, ensuring to keep the soil moist with a spray bottle as it feels dry.
  3. When sprouts appear in a few days, remove the covering and move the pot to a sunny spot, continuing to water as the soil feels dry to the touch. They recommend offering the grass to your cat when it’s approximately 3 to 4 inches tall.
  4. As the grass wilts (typically in a few weeks), pull out the shoots and plant more seeds. To keep the rotation steady for your cat, try planting several pots a week or two apart.

Cat Eating Grass

We still do not know why cats eat grass, researchers from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine ran a web-based survey asking 1,021 pet owners to observe their cats for three or more hours each day. The full text can be found here (page 106).

  • 71% of cats were observed eating plants at least six times
  • 61% of cats ate plants over 10 times, and 67% of these cats were estimated to eat plants daily or weekly, when asked about how the cat seemed prior to eating plants, 91% of respondents said their cat appeared normal beforehand
  • Among young cats, 3 years of age or less, 39% engaged in daily plant eating
    compared to 27% of cats 4 years or older
  • 11% of cats were not observed eating plants at all
  • Only 27% of the cats vomited afterwards

Parasites

A common belief is that cats eat grass because they feel unwell and ingestion helps them to vomit, which may help the cat to feel better. The researchers concluded that this is unlikely, and a more logical explanation is that grass consumption is an instinctive behaviour to purge the gastrointestinal tract of parasitic worms.

Hairballs

When cats groom themselves, they inevitably ingest fur which can build up in the stomach. Adding to the vomiting theory,  another possible reason for grass consumption is to assist with the passage of hairballs out of the body either through vomiting or via the feces.

Why Does My Cat Eat Grass

While not an essential part of their diet, green plants are something most cats will seek out and consume regularly if they are available to them. Non-toxic cat grass can be a great addition to a cats’ diet and there are many reasons why your cat might benefit from munching on it occasionally.

Digestion

Even cats who are on a healthy, balanced diet can benefit from cat grass by speeding up the digestion process due to fibre. If your cat is eating a lot of grass, they may be lacking a sufficient amount of fibre in their diet. Talk with your veterinarian if you notice your cat eating a lot of grass, to ensure they are getting sufficient vitamins and nutrients.

Inducing Vomiting

Cats who might have eaten something which disagrees with them, such as allergic or indigestible matter, may eat cat grass to bring on vomiting to rid their system of any potential toxins, and settle their stomach. Vomiting will not be sufficient to treat a significant toxic event. Repeated vomiting should always be treated as a medical emergency. A cat who vomits more than three times in day should see a veterinarian. More frequent vomiting, e.g.. more than once in an hour indicates that your cat has ingested something toxic. You should seek immediate veterinary care.

Fur Balls

Indoor cats spend about 60% of their day grooming themselves, making them prone to hairballs. Grass eating can help aid in their digestion and help coughing up hair balls. If your cat eats grass on a regular basis it may help to prevent the build-up of hairballs in their stomach.

Dietary Supplements

Cat grass contains niacin and B vitamins.

Non-Toxic Plant

Many cats really enjoy eating plants and as you may know there are numerous plants that are not recommended for cats, as well as pretty plants that you would just prefer they not ruin. Having a non-toxic plant that is your cats preferred snack may prevent them from attacking other houseplants! Of course, if you have cats you should never have toxic plants such as lilies in the house at all.

Is cat grass good for cats?

Indoor cats spend about 60% of their day grooming themselves, making them prone to hairballs. Grass eating can help aid in their digestion and help coughing up hair balls. If your cat eats grass on a regular basis it may help to prevent the build-up of hairballs in their stomach.

Do indoor cats need cat grass?

Nibbling on grass is a natural behavior for all cats. If you have an outdoor cat, chances are it’s part of your kitty’s daily routine. But if your pet spends all of its time indoors (like most domestic cats), you may want to consider growing cat grass in your home.

What is the purpose of cat grass?

Benefits of Cat Grass

Here are two widely held theories as to why cats like to snack on plants: It helps with digestion and upset stomach—Some have suggested that eating grass helps aid in digestion, or that it acts as a way to expel the indigestible parts of prey that was consumed in the wild.