Everyone knows that eating greens is an essential step towards better health, but if you thought they were only beneficial for humans, think again. If you share a house with a cat, you might be surprised to learn that they too can enjoy the nutritional qualities of certain plants. Enter cat grass.
If you’re a pet owner, you’re probably familiar with the concept of pet grass — cereal grains specifically grown as snacks for the animal or animals in your life. While you may be feeding your furry friend with highly-nutritious cat food, having a cat grass planter can be a great way to ensure your furry friend gets an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.
Join us as we explore what cat grass is, the ways it can improve your four-legged companion’s wellness, and how to create a little nature corner to keep your cat happy and healthy.
What Is Cat Grass?
Cat grass — also known as kitty grass — is a type of pet grass grown from different types of grains, the most common being wheatgrass, ryegrass, oat grass, and barley grass. Other pets such as guinea pigs, iguanas, turtles, rabbits, and other small animals can also benefit from having pet grass added to their meals.
Note: Always check with your vet before feeding these snacks to your pet.
For many years, researchers have tried to understand why cats, which are obligate carnivores, love to nibble plants and herbs. While there are no definite conclusions, some theories claim that today’s cats still possess their wild ancestors’ basic characteristics.
These predecessors used to hunt and eat their prey — mainly small mammals and birds — and finished their meals by ingesting small portions of grass. This would make them regurgitate the less digestible parts of their high-protein meal (such as bones, fur, and feathers) and prevent digestive issues.
Another theory suggests that cats eat grass as a way to ingest important trace minerals, vitamins, and chlorophyll — the latter was used for many years as a remedy for infection, pain, skin diseases, and ulcers for both humans and cats. If this doesn’t make you look at your curtain-crawling friend with a different perspective, we don’t know what will!
Cat grass is a natural way to add essential nutrients to your pet’s diet, and it can benefit both outdoor and indoor cats.
This type of pet grass is often confused with catnip, another popular plant among cat owners. Catnip belongs to the mint family and, unlike cat grass, can produce behavioral reactions when ingested.
The most common effects of catnip include head shaking, body rolling, drooling, licking, jumping, and enhanced hyperactivity. While this “high” lasts only between 5 to 10 minutes, you may want to avoid this variety if your cat already has high energy levels. Below are some potential benefits of cat grass.
1. Prevents Your Cat From Nibbling the Wrong Thing
If you live in an apartment with houseplants, getting a cat grass tray is a fantastic way to prevent your feline friend from chewing your plant leaves. This is extremely important if you happen to have flowers and other plant species that may be toxic for cats.
If you have a garden or outdoor space, a cat grass pot is a safer alternative for your furry companion than outdoor grass, which may have been exposed to chemicals and harmful pesticides.
You can grow cat grass indoors all year-round but if you plan to transplant it outside, wait until springtime when the danger of frost has passed.
2. Supports Your Cat’s Digestive System
Cat experts believe that nibbling on grass is a behavioral instinct for cats, as this plant is loaded with fiber that helps them either throw up hairballs or assists in digesting them by acting as a laxative.
Many cat owners report that their pets have more regular bowel movements, fewer hairballs, and fewer constipation issues when cat grass is added to their diets.
Note: Cat grass must be treated as a snack and should not amount to more than 10% of a cat’s total caloric intake. Overeating this plant can result in excessive vomiting. What’s more, the insoluble fiber in cat grass can potentially build up and create an intestinal blockage. Like all things in life, it’s all about balance.
3. Boosts Overall Health (and Freshens Breath)
Cat grass is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins A and D, niacin, and folic acid. The latter helps with proper oxygenation of the blood and supports your cat’s circulatory system function.
This humble yet powerful plant contains a significant dose of chlorophyll, which comes with excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, this natural compound has breath cleansing action, which is a great bonus if your cat loves to wake you up in the morning by licking your face with their invigorating, sand-papery tongue.
4. Keeps Your Cat Entertained
If you live in a small apartment and your cat doesn’t have access to an outdoor area, getting a large tray of cat grass can be a great way to bring some nature to your feline companion. Just make sure to select a heavier container that won’t tip over easily when your cat tries to walk on this “indoor lawn.”
For the ultimate entertainment experience, check out the Back to the Roots Water Garden. This hydroponic-aquaponic plant-growing fish tank will provide twice the enjoyment for your cat and yourself! You can spend hours watching as your pet playfully paws at the cat grass on the growing tray while thinking of different ways to get hold of the fish that are blissfully swimming inside the aquarium.
Tips to Grow Cat Grass
While you can buy some grown cat grass at your local pet store, growing your own is incredibly easy, very affordable, and comes with great benefits.
Since cat grass will be ingested by your pet, opting for certified organic seeds — like these wheatgrass seeds — is the best way to guarantee your furry friend is getting a nutritious and chemical-free snack.
All you need is some organic potting soil, your seeds of choice, a container, and you’re ready to roll.
- Start by sowing the seeds about a quarter-inch deep into the soil, maintaining one inch between rows.
- During sprouting, place your pot or tray in a warm area of the house and keep the soil moist using a spray bottle.
- Your cat grass seedlings should start sprouting after 3 to 7 days and are ready to be consumed 10 to 14 days after being sowed — or when they reach a height of 4 inches.
- Make sure you place your tray in a location with direct sunlight to support optimal growth. Be careful not to overwater it, as it may lead to mold. If mold is present or the cat grass looks sickly, discard everything and start a fresh batch — mold can be toxic for cats and might create digestive issues.
Having a pet is one of life’s greatest joys, and most times your furry companions end up becoming a part of your family. Learning how to naturally support their health using plants is a great way to combine two great passions.
Cat grass is filled with nutritional benefits, it’s easy to grow, and it’s an affordable way to keep your feline friend happy and entertained for hours. For more ways to bring gardening into your everyday life, be sure to continue browsing our Back to the Roots blog.