I have indoor only cats and the first thing they do when escaping the house is head for the grass. With all the things outside that can hurt our cats, could grass be one of them? I did some research into this to see if it’s ok that cats or kittens be eating any type of grass, grown or from outside.
So, can cats eat grass? In general, cats can eat grass from outside as well as the kind formulated and grown from rye, barley, oat or wheat seeds, called cat grass. There isn’t evidence that grass will hurt your cat. In fact, cats will regurgitate any large amount of grass they eat because they can’t digest it.
With all the stress we cat owners have about letting our cats out, letting them graze on the grass or vegetation outside is concerning.
Just make sure the grass or your surrounding plants aren’t treated with any chemicals that could be harmful to them.
We like to bring the outdoors in to avoid anything that may contain pesticides or fertilizers.
Let’s dig into some common questions, types, how to grow and “benefits” of grass for your cats.
Why Do Cats Eat Grass?
It’s instinctive and natural that cats want to graze. Your indoor or outdoor cat may be simply satisfying a craving or urge.
They’re also very skilled and instinctively know when they need particular nutrients. They surely don’t eat grass for the nutritional value.
The grass is mainly composed of fiber and they lack the enzyme to break it down and digest it.
Yet, it does help with their digestive process by making them regurgitate (throw up) anything they aren’t digesting.
So, if you have an outdoor cat that eats a whole mouse, it’s a good idea for your cat to eat some grass to help get out those little spiky bones.
We don’t want them to get stuck or puncture their intestines.
Conversely, if your cat doesn’t have access to some type of grass, they’ll probably head for your houseplants, electrical wires, plastics or anything they can chew on.
Always consult your vet if this behavior becomes compulsive.
They can pretty much eat many types of grass, including:
- Barley grass
- Oat grass
Or they can eat a blend of all those.
In fact, cats may eat grass simply because they like it!
Where can you buy cat grass?
You can buy these small kits at your local farm or online:
What Is Cat Grass
The scientific name for the grass is Dactylis glomerata, and it is also known as cocksfoot or orchard grass. Cats and other animals like this grass because it has high sugar content.
Is grass safe for cats? Cat grass doesn’t hurt cats, so there’s really no reason to stop them from eating it.
The unsafe part is when a cat eats outside grass that’s been treated with fertilizers or weed killers.
Eating Cat Grass Benefits
There aren’t really any nutritional benefits if your cats eat homegrown cat grass or from outside. They normally vomit it back up or a day after. So, they don’t consume enough to get those types of benefits.
Yet, grass does contain:
- Lots of moisture
- Some trace minerals
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Chlorophyll – which, back in the day, was good for pain and other ailments.
It’s not really essential for their diets as they would get these greens from the bellies of their “plant eater” prey.
That’s where the fondness comes from.
It’s better to have organic cat grass in the house instead of them seeking out your plants or other nondigestible things such as plastic or rubber bands.
If your cat is eating those other things (take them to a vet or to a behavioral specialist), you might want to make sure they haven’t developed Pica.
Pica is an eating disorder defined as the persistent consumption of non-nutritional items.
But stay with me.
The obvious thing for indoor cats that is it helps rid whatever is “stuck” inside them.
Non-toxic cat grass could serve these benefits for your cat:
- It’s A Treat – Most cats enjoy it (contains a fair amount of sugar, careful for diabetic cats… only give in moderation)
- Digestion – speeds up the process from the fiber
- Inducing Vomiting – the long blades will irritate them enough to induce vomiting. (getting rid of what was stated above) If your cat vomits more than 3 times a day should see a vet.
- Fur Balls – This is for your indoor cats. This helps to get those out and prevent them too.
- Act As A Dietary Supplements – contains niacin and B vitamins.
- Acts as a Non-Toxic Plant – deters your cats from eating any plants in the house
- Possible to prevent diarrhea
How much cat grass should a cat eat? Cats can eat as much as they want, as long as you don’t see a pattern where they are eating chunks at a time and not eating their normal food. That’s when it’s a cause for concern.
I wouldn’t let them eat the outside grass unless you know it doesn’t contain any chemicals and such.
How To Grow Cat Grass
If you want to be in control of the type of grass your cat likes to eat, then grow it.
You can buy kits online but what fun is that? Let’s be wilderness humans and grow some cat grass with soil (or without) and seeds.
You have some choices on the common types of cat grass:
- Oat Grass – slightly sweet and said to taste better than wheatgrass
- Wheat Grass – has the vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This grass is good for us humans too (ever have a wheatgrass shot from Jamba juice, ugh.)
- Rye Grass – has smaller blades and can be used as a cool cat bed.
- Barley Grass – this also has those easily absorbable enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids into the bloodstream
How to grow cat grass.
The set-up gear:
The set up of planting those seeds:
- Add the soil to the pot or container
- Make sure the soil is 2 inches from the top
- Add (sprinkle) those seeds on top
- Then add a quarter inch of soil over the seeds
Below is time lapsed video of oat grass seed being grown:
Time to water for germination:
- Use a spray bottle to moisten the soil. (don’t pour water as it will sink or reveal the seeds)
- Take the plastic wrap and cover the pot or container.
- Poke holes in the plastic cover for air
- Put in a cool dark place for germination – like a cupboard
- Make sure the soil stays moist, not soaked – don’t overwater
- Wait a couple days or until you see little sprouts
- Take it out and put in a well-lit place like a windowsill (with sunlight and indirect sunlight or use grow lights)
- Keep it moist only
- Wait 10-12 days until the grass grows
- Keep the grass trimmed to about 4 inches
- How to grow cat grass without soil
- Growing cat grass without soil is fairly easy, doesn’t require too much light, looks nicer and doesn’t make as much of a mess.
The setup gear to grow cat grass without soil:
- Low-wide glass jar or bowl – If you’re into aesthetics, try this Weck Jar
- Grow Stones
- Unbleached Paper towel or coffee filter
- Organic Wheat Grass Seeds
- Water, preferably filtered
The setup of planting your seeds:
- Fill the jar about ¾ full of growing stones (maybe a bit less)
- Then cut a piece of the paper towel or coffee filter to fit inside your jar
- Spread a layer of your grass seeds (pre-soaked or not) on top of the paper towel
- Fill the jar with water up to the paper towel (keep the water level here during the sprouting process)
The germination and upkeep:
- The seeds will sprout after a few days
- Then will take 7 – 12 days until your cat can enjoy it
- By this time you can water less but keep it moist and don’t let it dry out
Below is a great way to grow wheatgrass without soil or rocks:
How to keep cat grass alive.
Cat grass will only live for a few weeks, then you’ll need to replant. During that time keep it moist using a spray bottle and in a well-lit area. If you overwater it, mold can occur.
Why do cats eat grass to make themselves sick? Cat’s don’t eat grass to make themselves sick but this happens because they don’t have the necessary enzymes to digest a large amount of grass. It’s good that your cats eat grass because it helps clear their stomachs of anything that can irritate their digestive tract.
Do indoor cats need grass? Cat’s don’t need to eat grass and it isn’t necessary per se but it’s advisable to let your cat eat grass and have some available every once in a while to help with their digestion.
Is cat grass and wheatgrass the same? Cat grass and wheatgrass aren’t the same. Wheatgrass contains, Triticum Aestivum (common wheat). Cat grass contains Dactylis Glomerata (cocksfoot or orchard grass.)
Cat eating grass every day ok? Eat cat grass in small amounts is ok but if they’re eating huge chunks at a time, they may have a more serious disease or ailment. This could be caused by behavioral drives, nutritional cravings or idiopathic causes (basically your vet doesn’t know). Just watch for patterns and consult a vet if they’re ignoring their normal food and just eating grass.
How long does it take to grow cat grass? It takes cat grass 10 to 14 days to grow. During germination, keep the seeds in the soil damp but not soaked. It takes 3 to 7 days for the grass seeds to sprout. Your cat grass should stay 4 inches in height and will live for about 1 to 3 weeks.