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What is Cat Grass? A Healthy Snack With Surprising Benefits

Written By
5 min read

Updated - Jun 20th, 2022

Ever wondered why your local pet store carries those flats of fluffy grass? It’s called cat grass – and cats go crazy for it!

Given the fact that cats are obligate carnivores designed for a meat dominant diet, it seems unlikely that grass would be enticing to them. But it is, and it can even provide your kitty with some health benefits.

Let’s look at everything cat grass and see why adding it to your cat’s diet may be a good idea.

What is cat grass?

Cat grass is a blend of cereal grasses that include oat grass, barley grass, ryegrass, flax grass, and wheatgrass. All of them offer some good nutrients, such as chlorophyll, vitamins A and D, trace minerals, and fiber. 

There isn’t a lot of science explaining why your cat likes to nibble on grass. But wild cats will eat grasses after consuming prey. The grass helps them expel or vomit up the indigestible parts of their prey.

Most cat grasses provide important nutrients seven to 20 days from the original sprouting. The first growth cycle of any pet grass has the most nutrients, which is why pet owners ‌buy them or grow them in rotating cycles. Once the grass becomes wilted or yellow, the grass no longer provides beneficial nutrients.

What are the health benefits of cat grass for your kitty?

Cats don’t have the ‌enzymes needed to digest grass, expelling it pretty quickly after it’s ingested. So it’s ideal for relieving an upset stomach. However, there are more healthy reasons your cat enjoys cat grass.

Other benefits are:

Fiber: Cat grass is full of fiber to aid in your cat’s digestive system and acts as a natural laxative. The fiber moves hairballs and food through the digestive tract.

Folic Acid: Folic Acid supports the production of hemoglobin, which is a protein that moves oxygen through the blood, aiding in circulation.

Chlorophyll: This is the green pigment in grass and plants that increase the health of blood and acts as a natural breath mint. It’s believed that wild cats may have instinctually eaten grass as a remedy for infection, injuries, reducing pain, and healing of skin issues, diseases, and anemia.

Internal parasite prevention: During the digestive process, grass wraps around parasites present in the gut, moving them through the gut and out in the stools.

Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins A and D are present in cat grass. They support the eyes and the immune system of your floof.

Is cat grass safe for your cat?

Yes, cat grass made with a blend of oat, rye, wheat, flax, or barley grasses is safe for your cat. In fact, it’s much safer than your lawn grass. 

Lawn grass may have fertilizers, chemicals, or pesticides that are toxic to your kitty. There could also be parasites or diseases from other animals present that your cat will ingest.

Whether you have an indoor cat or an outdoor cat, there are many plants that are extremely toxic to your cat. Cat grass is a much safer way to satisfy their plant nibbling craving.

Whenever you offer your cat new food, including cat grasses, it’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian to make sure your kitty’s health will benefit from eating it. 

Are cat grass and catnip the same?

Nope, catnip is from the mint family and cat grass is from the cereal or grain family of plants. Catnip contains nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that induces a feeling of euphoria in your cat after smelling or eating it.

Most cats don’t respond to catnip until they are 3-6 months of age. And some don’t respond to this herb at all. Surprisingly, the way a cat responds to catnip is genetic. A gene causes the cat’s reaction to the essential oils, so if your cat lacks that gene, it won’t respond like a cat with the gene will.

Cat grasses cause no euphoric state and the cat requires no genetic trait to enjoy munching on them. Some cats will not be as interested in nibbling plants as others, and it’s possible for those that want to devour the bunch of it to eat too much.

Too much grass can cause vomiting. If your feline friend spends too much time nibbling cat grass, keep the plant in an area that is off limits to your cat. You can add the grass to their diet by cutting the tips of the blades and adding them to the meal area in a little bowl, or directly onto your cat’s food

Growing your own cat grass

There are cat grass kits available for growing your own cat grass. If you struggle to keep your kitty out of your indoor plants, an indoor garden of cat grass can solve that problem. Just be sure to separate the cat grass from the houseplants so there’s no confusion about what plants they can munch on.

How to grow your own cat grass from seeds:

  • Gather small shallow pots and fill them with potting soil. Use pots that are heavier and not as prone to tip over when cats tug on the grass. 
  • Add cat grass seeds to the soil and cover with ¼ inch of soil.
  • Spritz or wet the soil and keep it moist until they sprout (3-7 days). They should be damp but not soaked. After sprouting, use less water.
  • Once the seeds sprout, place the containers onto a bright windowsill or in a sunny location in your yard and water them daily with a spray bottle.
  • When the grass is 4 inches tall, it’s ready for your cat. It should last for 10-14 days.
  • To keep a constant supply of fresh grass, sow new seeds every 1-2 weeks. Rotate the old wilted or yellowed grass out for the new grass.
  • Keep the soil slightly moist, but not wet. Molds can develop when grasses are over watered.
  • Your cat can eat directly from the container, or cut the top inch of the plants and offer them in a shallow container for consumption or as a cat food topper.
  • Watch for aphids or nematodes on the surface of the plant or soil and treat them with natural remedies or throw the plants out and start new ones in clean pots. Your cat shouldn’t eat grass with insects on it.

And that’s a wrap on all things cat grass! We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about this nutritious kitty treat. Come back for more pet care tips and tricks!

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!