Cat grass is grass that is cultivated for cats to eat. Cereal grasses like oat, rye, barley, and wheat tend to be especially popular choices, as these grasses are very easy to grow, and safe for cats to consume. Some pet stores sell kits, allowing pet owners to grow grass at home, and others sell grass that has been cultivated so that it is ready for use.
While cats are carnivores, they do like to supplement their diets with grass. There are several theories about why cats eat plants, ranging from nutrient content to curiosity. Grass certainly helps cats digest, and it can also help them bring up hairballs. For indoor cats who cannot hunt, cat grass can replace the partially digested vegetable materials that these animals normally ingest through their prey. Not all cats eat grass, however, with some demonstrating considerable curiosity, while others ignore it.
People establish grass in their homes to distract cats from houseplants, which are usually off-limits, and to supplement the diet. Grass can also provide some environmental enrichment for indoor cats, who tend to become bored and frustrated because they cannot go outside. Some people also like to grow catnip, an aromatic herb that is very appealing to cats.
When growing cat grass, it is a very good idea for pet owners to use a wide, low container with a sturdy base, so that cats cannot knock the container over while they eat. Unlike herbivores, cats do not have teeth that are designed for chewing grasses, so they sometimes need to tug very hard, which can cause the planter to fall over. Curious cats may also want to play with the container, which can result in a big mess if the pot is especially tippy.
Some grass kits come with nutrient-rich mats that are filled with seeds, allowing the pet owner to simply moisturize the mat to get them to germinate. This is much tidier than working with seeds and soil, with the mat simply being pulled out of the planter when the grass is exhausted. Other kits come with soil or another growing medium, requiring the user to mix the seeds with the soil and water them. In addition to buying specially-labeled cat grass, it is also possible to buy containers or flats of wheatgrass that are designed for juicing.
Growing cat grass is extremely easy: all it needs is moisture and a bit of sunlight. The young grasses can usually regrow several times after being nibbled down, allowing cats to get several weeks of enjoyment out of a single container. For pet owners who are using the grass to discourage cats from chewing on the houseplants, it is a good idea to keep the pot in a location far away from the other plants, and to verbally chastise cats when they attempt to snack on the houseplants, while praising them for investigating the grass.