Cat owners know that our furry feline friends love to chew on plants. Often, cats will nibble on houseplants or outdoor grass. As a responsible pet parent, you may wonder if it’s safe for cats to eat all plants. And you may specifically wonder about the relationship between cat grass and wheatgrass.
While cats enjoy chewing on plants, not all greenery is safe for them. Some household and outdoor plants can be toxic to cats. To provide a healthy alternative, many pet owners grow cat grass. But is cat grass the same thing as wheatgrass? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Cat Grass?
Cat grass refers to a variety of grasses grown as food for cats. These grasses are safe for cats to eat and provide nutritional benefits. The most common types of grasses used as cat grass include:
Of these options, wheatgrass is the most popular. But other grass varieties are also perfectly healthy and nutritious for cats.
Benefits of Cat Grass
Letting your cat munch on cat grass offers several benefits:
- Aids digestion: The fibers in grass help move hairballs and food through the digestive tract.
- Provides nutrients: Grasses contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support good health.
- Satisfies chewing urge: Gnawing on grass satisfies cats’ instinct to chew.
In addition to these physical benefits, cat grass offers mental stimulation and satisfaction for bored kitties. Cats enjoy the texture and taste of fresh grass.
Growing Cat Grass
Growing fresh cat grass at home is easy and affordable. Follow these simple steps:
- Fill a planter with potting mix. Shallow pans or trays work well.
- Sprinkle grass seeds evenly over the soil.
- Lightly cover the seeds with a bit more potting mix or vermiculite.
- Water thoroughly until the soil is moist but not soggy.
- Place the planter in a sunny spot.
- Mist the soil daily to keep it moist as the grass sprouts.
- Within 1-2 weeks, the grass will be ready for cats to munch on.
- Trim the grass as needed, leaving 1-2 inches above the soil.
Be sure to grow cat grass in a cat-safe spot. Cats may tip over the planter or make a mess while grazing.
Purchasing Cat Grass
Don’t have time to grow cat grass from seed? Many pet stores sell ready-to-eat pots of cat grass. Look for organic, chemical-free grass grown in cat-safe soil. Wheatgrass and oat grass are common pre-grown options.
Serving Cat Grass
Offer fresh cat grass free-choice as a snack or supplement. Place the grass planter or pot in an accessible spot so your cat can munch whenever the urge strikes. Most cats will self-regulate their grass intake.
When serving pre-grown cat grass, remove it from the plastic container or wrapper first. Cats may try eating the plastic or foil along with the grass.
Remove wilted or brown pieces promptly. And fully replace pre-grown grass every 1-2 weeks. For home-grown grass, simply trim as needed.
Cat Grass vs. Wheatgrass
Now that we’ve covered the basics of cat grass, let’s return to the original question. Is cat grass the same thing as wheatgrass? The short answer is: sometimes!
Wheatgrass is one type of cat grass. But not all cat grass is wheatgrass. As we discussed earlier, cat grass can also include rye, barley, and oat grasses. Wheatgrass just happens to be a very popular cat grass variety.
- Cat grass is a general term for safe, edible grasses grown for cats.
- Wheatgrass is one specific type of cat grass.
So wheatgrass can be considered cat grass. But other cat grasses like rye and oat exist too.
How does wheatgrass compare to other cat grass varieties in terms of nutrition? Here’s an overview of the basic nutrients in 1 cup (8 fl oz) of popular cat grasses:
As shown, wheatgrass is very low in calories and fat. But it also contains minimal protein and fiber compared to other grass varieties. Barley, rye, and oat grass offer more balanced nutritional profiles.
Choosing the Best Cat Grass
When selecting cat grass, any of the standard varieties – wheatgrass, rye, barley, or oat – are great options. Mixing different grasses can give your cat variety.
Key things to look for:
- Organic, chemical-free grass
- Grown in cat-safe soil
- Free of artificial dyes or fragrances
- Not treated with pesticides or herbicides
Go with wheatgrass, rye, barley, oat, or a mix. And be sure to always serve fresh grass in cat-safe dishes.
Risks of Cat Grass
When fed in moderation, cat grass is very safe. But there are a few risks to be aware of:
- Choking hazard: Cats may try to swallow big clumps of grass. Supervise nibbling.
- Mold/mildew: Don’t serve spoiled, wilted grass; it could cause upset stomach.
- Pesticides: Ensure grass is organic and chemical-free before feeding.
- Soil: Use grass grown in cat-safe, edible soil.
As always, consult your vet with any concerns about introducing new foods. But when sourced safely, cat grass makes a healthy, natural snack.
Signs Your Cat Wants Grass
Cats will often let you know when they crave fresh grass to munch on. Signs your kitty may want more greens include:
- Chewing on houseplants
- Eating outside grass or plants
- Vomiting to cough up indigestible greenery
- Increased hairballs
- Pawing at empty grass planters
- Meowing insistently
If you notice these behaviors, try offering fresh wheatgrass, rye, barley, or oat grass. Healthy grass nibbling can satisfy your cat’s cravings and prevent indoor or outdoor plant-chewing.
Cats and Grass-Eating
Why do cats have such a strong urge to chew on greens? Experts aren’t totally sure. But here are some theories on why cats eat grass:
- Fiber: Grass aids digestion and helps move hairballs through the gut.
- Nutrition: Grass provides trace vitamins and minerals cats can’t get from meat.
- Instinct: Chewing grass may be an innate feline behavior and need.
- Boredom: Eating grass gives cats something to do.
- Upset stomach: Grass may help calm minor tummy troubles.
Whatever the reasons, it’s clear grass-chewing is important to cats. Providing safe, healthy cat grass lets them indulge this instinctive behavior.
Choices Beyond Cat Grass
Cat grass provides the safest green grazing for cats. But you can also offer small amounts of these mild greens:
- Romaine lettuce
- Fresh parsley
- Baby kale
- Brussels sprouts
Introduce new greens slowly. And stick to just 1-2 tablespoons per day. Too much can upset kitty’s tummy.
Dangers of Dogs Eating Cat Grass
If you have both cats and dogs, keep the grass nibbling separate. Grass grown for cats can make dogs ill. The cat-safe grasses are typically not harmful to dogs. But dogs are likely to eat very large amounts, which could cause:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Excessive urination
Supervise all pet grazing to be sure the right animals get the species-appropriate greens.
The Bottom Line
Cat grass provides a healthy, natural snack that satisfies cats’ instinct to chew greens. Wheatgrass is a popular cat grass. But other safe, nutritious options include rye, barley, and oat grass.
Growing cat grass or purchasing chemical-free pots allows cats to safely indulge their grass cravings. Just be sure to supervise nibbling and offer grasses designed for feline consumption.
So while cat grass and wheatgrass may not be exactly the same thing, both provide a healthy plant-chewing experience loved by cats!