Last updated March 4th, 2020
For indoor cats, the grass is not greener on the outside. Perhaps your cat would disagree, but we know indoor living is the safest place for your cat. Free-roaming cats have a full daily schedule, they hunt, catch, kill, groom, sleep, and nibble on grass at their leisure. To keep your cat happy it’s important to provide a natural, stimulating and changing environment that most closely resembles what he would normally stumble upon in an outdoor kitty expedition. We know that one of the things cats love, next to catnip, is cat grass. What’s great to know is that cat grass is super easy to grow at any time throughout the year.
If you have an indoor ‘plant-pruning’ kitty in your midst that cannot resist your houseplants, then growing his very own ‘all-you-can-eat’ cat grass platter is a great distraction. So instead of yelling “No Mr. Tiggs, not the plant!” tell kitty to get ready to…
Hunt. Stalk Prey. Eat Grass.
Why do cats eat grass if they are obligate carnivores?
As obligate carnivores, cats require only meat protein to stay healthy and there is no scientific evidence that they need grass at all. But many theories from cat experts abound.When hunting prey cats out in the wild eat grass to help regurgitate undigestible parts of the prey such as feathers, bones, parasites and other matter. Grass may act as a source of fibre and helps induce vomiting to remove fur balls which form over time and makes your cat uncomfortable. Cats instinctively eat grass for its nutrient-rich trace elements such as folic acid, vitamins A, D and niacin. It also contains chlorophyll which oxygenates the blood. When eating prey cats inadvertently ingest plant matter such as grass found in the digestive tract of prey, so this would suggest that small amounts of these trace elements from grass would be a natural part of the diet. Cats could be eating grass out of sheer boredom. I’m not so sure I buy this one. Cats left outdoors certainly have more than their fair share of cativities! Umm, no boredom there! Cats may just like the taste and texture of grass, who knows?
What we do know is that cats do not need grass, but that there is no harm is serving up a little grass entree at the kitty salad bar! Cats love it and if it serves as a non-caloric snack, it’s all good! As with everything always check with your vet for your cat’s nutritional needs before offering anything unfamiliar to your kitty.
What are the common types of cat grasses?
Any type of the common cereal grasses which are normally grown for cats includes wheat, barley, oats, and ryegrass. You can either grow them separately or mix them up for variety. Experiment with them all to see which type your kitty prefers. And believe me, there will most certainly be a preference!
It’s not only Mr. Tiggs that gets some benefit from chowing down on grass. Wheatgrass has many health benefits for the humans so make sure you grow an extra pot for juicing or smoothies! There’s something for everyone, I love win-win scenarios, don’t you?
Let’s make it greener on the inside!
So let’s get our hands dirty and grow some cat grass to make it greener on the inside! Growing cat grass for your cat is a fun activity. Involving the kids in this activity is a great way to strengthen the bond between the kids and their fur-sib.
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You would need the following:
- Any of the grasses mentioned above.
Hard Red Spring Wheat seeds or for an interesting mix, why not try this blend of wheat, barley, rye, oats and flaxseed. Some of my cats definitely prefer the grass from oat grass seeds. But as we all know, cats are cats and they like what they like! So experiment!
- A variety of medium-sized planter pots with holes. I used small 7.5″ diameter pots found at Home Depot.
- Another set of decorative planters without holes. This is entirely optional but functional as well as pretty looking for both inside your home or for your catio. The plastic planters I use to grow the grass in is eventually put into these rustic looking planters made of cement. They’re sturdy, hard to knock over by rambunctious cats and I love the rustic driftwood finish which blends with our catio decor. Besides being hard to knock over, it eliminates the need to use planter saucers!
- Organic potting soil
- Spray bottle with water
- Planter saucers, unbleached paper towels or plastic food wrap to cover your seeds until they sprout.
1. Soak the seeds
For growing three 7.5″ diameter pots, put about half a cup of seeds in a bowl and cover with water for about 4 to 6 hours. The pre-soaking helps speed up germination. Some say this is not necessary but I have always soaked my seeds. Rinse them thoroughly after soaking, they’re now ready to be sewn in pots.
2. Prepare your pots
If you wish, before you fill the pots with the soil you can line the bottom of the pot with a piece of paper towel or coffee filters. Fill your pots with some organic potting soil to about 1” from the top. Be sure to moisten the soil thoroughly.
3. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the soil.
You may cover the seeds with a thin layer of extra soil, about 1/4″ but I find this is not necessary. In fact, I have done both to experiment to see which would grow faster, covered or uncovered, and this does not make a difference.
4. Water the seeds lightly with a spray bottle or watering can
5. Cover the seeds
I use plastic plant saucers with holes punched in them to cover the pots. This prevents the seeds from drying out; moisture is essential for seeds to germinate. You also want to ensure there are enough holes for adequate air circulation to prevent mold. If you are using plastic food wrap, ensure to cover loosely over the pot as it should not be airtight.
6. Place your pots in a dark area away from direct sunlight
The ideal conditions for germination of seeds are warmth, adequate moisture, and indirect light. I place my covered pots in the garage or high up on the fridge away from sunlight and curious paws! Moisten the seeds/soil day and night or three times per day if you can with a water sprayer and keep the pots covered. In a day or two, you should notice some roots emerging. By the third day, you can remove the lid and move the pots to a sunny location to green up the emerging grass sprouts.
NOTE: If it is Summer with high humidity mold is more likely to develop if kept in a room that is too humid and dark. If, during this time, you find traces of mold, uncover the pot and place the pot outside but still keep it in a shaded area. By the third day move the pots to a sunny location once you see small pale grass sprouts.
In 5 days you should have something resembling the promise of a scrumptious cat snack or smoothie filler for you.
How long does cat grass last?
Cat grass that is grown exclusively indoors may only last for one week due to weak sunlight. Our pots last up to three weeks in the catio with regular watering. But I always plant a new crop of cat grass every two weeks so that there is always a fresh supply of on hand for the cats to nibble. If the cats have not ‘mowed the lawn’ down you can do this yourself by giving it a little ‘haircut’ with a pair of scissors to encourage it to keep growing. But eventually, it will die off so it’s best to just start afresh!
Enriched cat and healthy you!
If your cats allow, harvest some sprigs of their cat grass for smoothies or juicing, cut at the base just above the root. Blend with water in a blender and strain the juice or use the grass directly in your juicer.
Next to catnip, cat grass is a staple in our house and I grow it for the catio in the Summer and indoors during winter. It’s gratifying to know that something as simple as cat grass can contribute to your cat’s environment enrichment needs to keep him happy and engaged. After all, your indoor cat has a full schedule too:
Hunt. Stalk prey. Eat grass.
Be warned, when you allow your cat to munch on grass, be prepared for the inevitable. The Haiku below says it all:
I shall nibble grass
Recycled for you later
On the kitchen floor
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Do you grow cat grass for your kitties? Is your grass greener on the inside? Chirp us a line below, we’d love to hear your stories!
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