What Is Cat Grass & How Do You Grow It Indoors?

cat eating grass

Chewing on grass is a natural behavior for cats, and while they are happy to chew on regular grass, they’re much safer eating cat grass. 

So, what is cat grass?

Grab a coffee and allow me to explain what exactly cat grass is and what you need to know about it. 

Ready? Let’s get started.

What Is Cat Grass?

Cat grass is usually grown from barley, rye, oat, or wheat seeds and looks very similar to the grass that grows on your lawn but, it’s not the same.

Cat grass is grown with the intention of letting our feline pets eat it when they please and providing a much safe alternative to or backyard lawns.

Many people confuse cat grass with catnip however, catnip’s main difference to cat grass is that it gives our cats a but catnip belongs to the mint family of plants. 

The difference between catnip and cat grass is, catnip will produce an exhilarated behavior effect in cats whereas cat grass will have no behavior effect on your cat.

Any good local pet store should have a variety of cat grass seeds to choose from. They should supply everything you need to grow your own grass such as soil, seeds, and a potting container. 

Outdoor grass that has been chemically treated with pesticides may not be as safe as indoor cat grass.

Growing your own pesticide-free grass gives your cat a healthy alternative to nibbling on houseplants and flowers, many of which are toxic to them.

You can find a list of toxic plants over at PetMD.

If you’re still unsure, talk to your local vet about what plants are safe to bring home.  

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?

Kitten eating grass

There is no solid evidence of exactly why cats eat grass, but there are some theories.

Many animal behaviorists have noted that wild cats will often eat grass after consuming their prey. It’s believed that eating grass would cause a cat to vomit and act as nature’s way of getting rid of any indigestible parts.   

A bit gross I know, but even if your domestic cat has never caught any prey, they will naturally gravitate to eating grass.

Grass can also be a healthy source of fiber for our cats, allowing easy digestion and the ability to pass hairballs easier. 

Some believe that cats eat grass for its trace minerals, vitamin A and D. Grasses also contain chlorophyll, which, before antibiotics were discovered, was used as a remedy for pain, infection, ulcers, skin disease, and anemia. 

The folic acid in the grass also helps create hemoglobin, the protein that facilitates the movement of oxygen throughout the body and helps circulation. 

So, while no one truly knows exactly why cats eat grass, knowing what we know about grass, it’s easy to see why they might.

Is Cat Grass Safe

Yes! In fact, it’s good for them however, you shouldn’t let your cat eat regular outdoor grass.

Regular outdoor grass is often treated with weed killers or pesticides. Think about the last time you may have washed your car on the lawn or put down some fertilizer.

Not to mention that common houseplants can be toxic to cats.

Providing your cat with homegrown indoor cat grass will give them the opportunity to act out their natural behavior in a safe manner. 

I will say, cats will naturally turn to household plants if no grass is available, so please check that none of your household plants are toxic for your cats and dogs. 

How Much Cat Grass Can Cats Eat?

There is no hard limit on how much grass your cat should or shouldn’t eat. Usually, your cat will know when enough is enough.

Most experts recommend that you plant a handful of cat grass seeds at a time. You can then let that sprout and see how it goes from there. 

If you have more than one cat, consider giving each one a separate patch of grass so that they don’t compete with each other.

Be sure to monitor your cat’s health and habits after eating any grass.

Consult your veterinarian right away if there is anything unusual about your cat’s behavior.

Don’t get offended if your cat turns their nose up at your freshly grown patch of grass. Not all cats enjoy eating grass.

But hey, at least it will make a nice decoration in the house. 

What Type Of Cat Grass Is Best For Cats?

There are many types of cat grass, each providing its own benefits.

For example, indoor cat grass is a great way to reduce hairballs and aid in the digestion of your furry friend.

Below are several types of grass that cats like to eat, all of which are all pretty easy to grow at home.

Alfalfa seedlings

Alfalfa sprouts are probably the most popular form of cat grass.

They are easy to find in almost any grocery store and germinate quickly under a wide variety of conditions.

One tip for growing alfalfa seedlings is to make sure you keep the soil moist at all times.

Wheatgrass

wheatgrass as cat grass

Wheat grasses are probably the most common type of grass grown and another great option that you can easily grow at home.

You can plant your seeds in either soil or water.

Once the grass has sprouted, you will need to thin it out for it to continue to grow.

Oat grass

common oat for cat grass

If you want something other than wheatgrass or alfalfa sprouts, oat grass may be a great choice.

You can buy oat seeds at most grocery stores, you’ll need to water the seeds constantly for about four days before it germinates and sprouts.

Once it does, thin out the grass so that only one seedling remains every few inches.

Barley grass

barley used as cat grass

You can plant barley seeds in your soil outside and let them germinate.

You’ll need to keep the soil consistently watered for four days until the seeds fully germinate.

Once they sprout, you can then transplant them into small containers and move them inside.

Catnip (Cat Grass Alternative)

As you now know, catnip is technically not considered cat grass but, your cat will love you for growing it. 

It’s super easy to germinate, just make sure the soil is always moist for the first two weeks.

Catnip also gives off a nice smell that’s irresistible to some cats. Be careful where you choose to plant catnip and don’t be surprised if you find your cat rolling around in the soil afterward.

Even though alfalfa sprouts are usually the safest option for cats, you can try any of the grasses above to help your cat with digestion and reduce hairballs at home.

How To Grow Cat Grass

Cat grass is known as an annual plant, meaning it will require some maintenance to keep it healthy during certain periods.

It’s nothing too complicated so don’t think you have to be a total green thumb to nail it. 

As previously mentioned, your local pet supply store should stock cat grass kits. They come with easy to follow directions but here are the basics. 

Step 1. Once planted in any type of container you choose (shallow containers work well), seeds should always be kept damped but don’t soak them. Once they sprout you can start to use less water. 

Step 2. Wait between 3 – 8 days for seeds to sprout. 

Step 3. Continue to water, the grass will be ready for your cat to eat between 10 – 15 days after sprouting. If it reaches 4 inches in height, it’s good to go.

Step 4. Keep the fresh grass in a natural sunny spot, watering daily with a spray bottle. 

Step 5. Never overwater the grass. 

Step 6. When the grass eventually starts to wilt or change color, it’s time to plant new seeds.

How To Care For Cat Grass

Caring for cat grass is no different from caring for the common household plant. Make sure to water regularly, but never overwater the grass, this can cause mold to appear.

Allow the grass to have natural sunlight and check to see no insects have set up shop in your grass.

It’s best to keep outside grass outside, and grown grass inside.

I’m always cautious about bringing outside plants into the home because they can harbor a number of insects that could contaminate my indoor plants.

The same goes for cat grass, if it’s outside leave it there. It would be far better to start from scratch with uncontaminated seedlings.

Conclusion On Cat Grass

By now you should have a good understanding of what cat grass is.

Growing your own grass is relatively easy and doesn’t require a lot of effort or time. It can be a great treat for your cat and make for a great decoration throughout the home.

I’ve seen many people incorporate cat grass into their cat trees. What an awesome way to get your kitty to use their tree while making it look aesthetically pleasing.

Why not give it a try? Your cat will thank you for it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Humans Eat Cat Grass?

Yes, although it’s not a regular on my plate.

Is Cat Grass The Same As Catnip?

No, it’s not. Often confused, catnip belongs to the mint family. It’s a common mistake and not a serious one. 

Do Cats Need Cat Grass?

No, cats are obligate carnivores which means they need to eat meat. Some will enjoy eating grass while others will turn their heads at it.