Have you ever seen a cat nibbling on grass and wondered why a meat-eating mammal would choose to eat vegetation? Is cat grass safe? Does it mean the cat is sick? Is it just a fun way for them to entertain themselves? Or are there benefits to eating grass that your cat inherently knows about?
Cats eating grass is normal and even healthy behavior. Indoor cats and outdoor cats can enjoy eating grass. There can be some danger that your cat will eat unsafe grass or even other plants, which is why pet parents have developed cat grass, a safe grass specifically for cats to enjoy.
So, why do cats eat grass, and how can you grow cat grass for your kitty?
Is Cat Grass Safe?
Cat grass is a safe alternative to outdoor grass. Outdoor grass can be toxic to your cat as it can be treated with weed killers, pesticides, and other toxins.
Why Cats Eat Grass
If cats are carnivores, why do they ever voluntarily choose to eat grass? Wild and domestic cats alike will eat grass or greens, but why?
First of all, not all cats like cat grass. So if your cat doesn't, it is totally fine. Most cats, however, do love cat grass. In general, cats enjoy both cat grass and catnip.
Cats may nibble grass to settle their stomachs when they aren't feeling well, but cats seem to know that there are essential nutrients lacking in a carnivorous cat's diet that can be supplemented through grass and greens. Cats will be attracted to eating grass as it is a natural behavior and a means of getting much-needed antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients not only provide health but will aid in digestion overall.
Benefits of Cat Grass
So what are all the benefits of cat grass? Even beyond what a cat may be aware of?
Digestion and Elimination
Cat grass provides fiber that aids significantly in regulating a cat's GI tract. Cats who regularly eat pet grass will have fewer hairballs and less constipation than cats that don't. This natural laxative helps keep things moving along smoothly.
Aids in Disposal of Indigestible Materials
Cats will come across a great number of things they will eat or try to eat throughout their lives. Because cats don't have the necessary stomach enzymes actually to digest grass, cats will often vomit shortly after eating grass.
While this may seem concerning at first, it is necessary if your cat has eaten something that could make it sick. Cats eat grass to help them vomit up feathers, bones, fur, and even intestinal parasites, emptying their stomach of harmful or indigestible materials.
Vitamins and Minerals
As was mentioned earlier, grass contains a number of very important vitamins and minerals that your cat may need. These nutrients can aid in your cat's health and well-being. Antioxidants in the grass will help strengthen your cat's immune system against disease and keep your cat's skin and fur healthy.
An incidental positive of cats eating cat grass is that the chlorophyll in the grass freshens your cat's bad breath. So if your cat has cat grass, you won't have to deal with smelly cat-food breath.
How to Grow Cat Grass
So with all the benefits of your cat eating grass, from parasite prevention to essential nutrition, you may be wondering how to provide safe cat grass for your cat to eat.
Cat owners have learned how to cultivate their own grass for this express purpose. Having your own cat grass will discourage your cat from trying to eat other household plants, grass outdoors, or lawn grass that may not always be safe. While cat grass may look like lawn grass, it is actually usually grass grown from ryegrass, barley grass, oat grass, wheat grass, or alfalfa.
Get Cat Grass Seeds/ Cat Grass Kits
To grow your very own organic garden of cat grass, you can go to any local pet store or shop online and find cat grass kits that will provide everything you need to grow your very own cat grass. You should follow the instructions that come with the kit since different varieties will require different care. Or, you can DIY and grow your own indoor cat grass by purchasing cat grass seeds.
Soak The Grass Seeds
Before planting the seeds, it's best to soak them in water for about four to six hours. Soaking them will help speed up the germination time.
Plant the seed in moist organic potting soil. It should be planted 1" deep into the soil.
Once you cover the seeds with soil, water them lightly with a spray bottle. The seeds should be watered every day until the grass sprouts emerge.
Cover the Seed
While you don't have to cover the pot with a lid or a plastic bag, it can help the seed to germinate as moisture is essential. But also ensure enough air holes and good circulation to prevent mold.
Place In A Indirect Light Area
The ideal location to place this pot is in a spot that is dark or indirect light area.
The Waiting Period
If ideal conditions are met, germination can take two to three days. Once you start seeking sprouts emerging, you can remove the lid and move the pot to a sunny location. Usually, by day ten to fourteen, you will have a delicious cat snack ready to be enjoyed.
Cat Grass Care
Cat grass seeds grow very quickly, often being ready for your cat after the first week or two. If you are using a cat grass kit, be sure to follow the instructions as to watering and light requirements. Young grass will be ready to eat in about 10-14 days when the grass reaches about 4 inches tall. Your cat can eat directly from the container.
Your grass will last between one and three weeks, provided it is watered regularly and has plenty of light. Once the grass starts wilting, you can start the whole process again and grow a new fresh container of grass. Cats can have constant access to grass, provided they are not overeating.
When to Take Grass Away from Cats
Are there reasons to restrict your cat's access to cat grass? Your cat will generally know how much to eat and when to stop, and you can trust them with constant access to their grass. However, if your cat seems to be overeating grass or vomiting a lot, restrict access and possibly consult with your vet.
If your cat's excessive grass obsession is accompanied by other changes in appetite, behavior, or appearance, take your cat to the vet immediately, as this can indicate serious illness. Contact your vet immediately if you notice anything unusual after your cat has eaten grass.