Cat parents, did you know that your little meat eater may like some vegetation in her diet? That's right, she may enjoy having cat grass. Despite being obligate carnivores (that is, they have to eat meat in order to get their necessary nutrients), cats like to munch on plants for a variety of reasons. But what is cat grass, you may be asking? And is it safe for my fur baby? It's always best to check with your vet before allowing your cat to feed on anything, but you can learn a little more about this interesting feline salad green.
What Is Cat Grass?
Cat grass is not a specific kind of plant, but a grass mixture that is grown from seeds, such as wheat, barley, oats or rye. It's not to be confused with the grass outdoors in your lawn, which has the potential to contain toxic pesticides. Cat grass is grown indoors specifically for household pets.
Another benefit of cat grass? It can be used as a deterrent, as Trupanion recommends. Having a tasty, dedicated cat snack can lure your pet away from other dangerous or delicate plants. If your kitty likes to chew on or tip over your houseplants, a cat grass garden is the perfect way to foil her antics.
Cat grass kits are more popular than ever. You can look for one at your local pet store, online, or even at your veterinarian's office. You can also create a DIY greens buffet for your kitty by purchasing your own seeds at the store — wheat berry is a popular suggestion. Just as you would when potting any plant, cover the seeds in soil and place the container in a sunny spot in your home, making sure to water it regularly (misting may help avoid overwatering). Your seeds will start to sprout in a few days and should be ready for consumption within two weeks. No need to transplant the grass into a dish. Your cat can graze directly from the garden pot.
Is Cat Grass Safe?
One long-standing cat myth is that cats only eat grass when they are sick, but research shows that this is not the case. In addition to providing enjoyment, cat grass benefits your kitty's life by helping her digestive system.
The grass contains folic acid, a vitamin that aids the bloodstream (and is commonly found in human breakfast cereal that includes the same grain mixture). Cat grass also works as a laxative to help push out hairballs or bits of food that she's ingested. However, because cats may eat excessively when they are sick, always check with your veterinarian to be sure there isn't an underlying medical reason for over-consumption of cat grass.
It's also important to keep your cat garden separate from any other houseplants. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides a comprehensive list of common household plants that are poisonous or irritating to cats and dogs. Keep philodendrons, aloe, parsley and other dangers on a high shelf or hanging pot she cannot reach, and place your cat grass in a spot low to the ground where kitty knows it's hers.
How Much Is Too Much?
It's a fact of life with cats that you'll clean up your share of hairballs, particularly if your cat is a long haired breed or sheds a lot. Cat grass will help this process along, especially if she eats a large quantity at one time. "After munching away on grass," notes Animal Planet, "a short time later, cats inevitably upchuck those greens." You cat will NOT barf every time she nibbles on her grass, but if she does, or if you see blades of grass in her vomit, it's probably a sign something needed to be unclogged.
There is no tried-and-true amount of grass that you should plant, but most experts, including the Burpee Seed Company, recommend planting about a handful of seeds at a time. If you have multiple cats, consider giving each cat her own patch of grass so that there's no competition.
When it comes down to it, is cat grass safe? Yes, especially if you take care to buy the appropriate kit or seeds and, as always, keep an eye on your cat's habits and health. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your vet right away.
Not all cats will eat cat grass (they are notorious food snubbers, after all), but many of them do. So why not offer some to your furry friend to see what she thinks? She just may love having a little garden all to herself.