What is Cat Grass?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

Cat owners can plant their own cat grass in a container.
Cat owners can plant their own cat grass in a container.

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.

An adult cat.
An adult cat.

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.

Barley, which is sometimes grown as cat grass.
Barley, which is sometimes grown as cat grass.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


After eating the grass, my cat threw up on my rug.


My cat eats the grass in our backyard. Is it safe for him? Should I buy special grass for him to eat?

I haven't worried about it because I always feel that animals' instincts about what they should eat and shouldn't eat is always right. I actually see my dog eating the same grass in the yard sometimes. They've never gotten sick from it so I am guessing that it's safe. I don't use any pesticides or chemicals on my grass and plants in the yard, particularly because I know my pets eat them.


Wow, I didn't know that grass was so good for cats. I thought that my cats ate it because their stomach was upset, it's good to know that there are other benefits.

I've never had any problem with my cats eating my plants. Their grass actually sits next to all my plants and flowers but they always go directly to the grass. It might be because I hand feed them the grass from time to time and they know that it's meant for them.

I do know a trick though if any of you have a problem with your cats munching on your plants along with some grass. Just take some lemon juice and dilute it with a little water and spray it on your plants and flowers. Cats hate lemon scents so they won't touch them. You should keep their grass somewhere separate if you are going to do this.


We adopted my cat about 7 months ago. We didn't go out and buy a grass kit or anything like that. My mom actually had these dried wheat and barley stems that she got from a farm. She was using it for decoration with some fake flowers and such.

My mom took the seeds off of a several of them and planted them in short and long pots on our balcony. It's pretty warm where we live and there is plenty of sunlight. The wheat and barley have grown really long now. My cat eats from it every morning and sometimes during the day. She is so happy, I think she thinks she is in the yard when she is eating them.I think the grass sets are good but if you can plant grass yourself, you really don't need to spend any money on it.

I'm not sure what we are going to do when the wheat grows really long though. I guess we are going to find some more seeds and replant or wait for the ones we have to give seeds.

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