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You may have seen small grassy containers at the pet store and wondered why anyone would need grass for their pet.
Turns out, eating green leafy plants is actually an extremely common behavior for both wild and domestic cats, despite their carnivore diet. Many cats love to eat grass and need it for their digestion, which has inspired many cat owners to cultivate their own cat grass.
“Cat grass” is grass that’s safe for cats, typically grown from rye, barley, oat, wheat, or alfalfa seeds. Cat grass looks a lot like the grass on your lawn, but it’s not.
It’s important to note here that cat grass is not catnip, which is a member of the mint family. The difference between catnip and cat grass is that catnip produces a euphoric, behavioral effect in cats.
Cat grass, on the other hand, is packed with antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that promote cat health, plus fiber to support digestion.
Nibbling on grass is a natural behavior for all cats. Many cats enjoy the feeling of chewing on grasses, but cat grass may also provide benefits that their carnivore diets lack.
According to VetStreet, eating grass may help cats settle their stomach or dispel things that their body can’t digest. Cats don’t have the necessary stomach enzymes to digest grass, which is why some cats may vomit shortly after actually eating grass. This can help clear their stomachs of fur, feathers, intestinal parasites, or bones from the prey they may have caught. Even though it makes them vomit, they’re eating grass on purpose.
Benefits of cat grass:
- Relieves indigestion
- Natural laxative
- Parasite prevention
- Aids in removing hairballs
- Provides vitamins and minerals
- Mental stimulation
For your indoor or indoor/outdoor cat, you may consider growing your own cat grass. You can find a variety of cat grass kits as seeds or as already grown grass at Amazon or Chewy, or your local pet store. The highest-rated DIY cat grass kit is SmartCat Kitty’s Garden that grows in just four to six days.
Cat grass is relatively easy to grow. If you’re starting from seeds, all you’ll need to provide is water and sunlight, and within about one week, your cat will have their very own organic garden for safe, healthy nibbling.
Cat grass is grown indoors for your cat. If you live in an apartment and your cat does not have access outside, your cat may chew on household plants instead, which can be dangerous if you have poisonous houseplants.
Follow the directions of your cat grass kit, which will look a bit like the following, according to PetMD:
- Keep seeds damp, but not soaked with water.
- It should take three days to a week for seeds to sprout. Once the seeds begin to sprout, use less water.
- After about 10 to 14 days after sprouting, the grass should be about 4 inches tall, and you can give your cat access to the grass. Your cat can eat directly from the container.
- The grass will last between a week and three weeks if you give it natural light and daily watering.
- Be careful to follow instructions for watering. Too much water can cause mold.
- When the grass begins wilting or changing color, start the process over again by planting a new container.
Your cat grass patch should be kept in a place separate from household plants to not confuse your cat. It can be hard for cats to distinguish the difference between what they can eat and what they can’t. Never keep poisonous plants or flowers in an area where your cat can easily get to.
Your cat can have constant access to their cat grass, but you should keep an eye on their behavior. Cats should only ingest a small amount of this nutrient-rich treat at a time. If your cat is constantly vomiting, you should consider relocating their cat grass and only allowing access occasionally.
If your cat appears to be devouring your cat grass at every opportunity, you may want to consult your vet to determine if additional changes need to be made to your cat’s diet.
Cat grass also isn’t the only way to get your cat additional fiber. For example, you can purchase treats with added green fiber like these treats from Bell Rock Growers.