Are you familiar with cat grass? It’s either a selection or combination of oats, wheat, rye or barley, and is great for your cat’s digestive system. Read on to learn how to grow cat grass indoors for your feline companions to enjoy at any time of year.
My cat loves to go out on the balcony and feast on my various plants. I’ve tried luring him away from the veggies by planting cat grass and regular grass for him, with limited success. While he seems very happy with those, he also loves my snap peas and cucumbers. Every morning when I go out to water, he loves to come outside with me and check out what’s on the menu. As the seasons change and all that’s left for him is the grass, he’s happy to mow down as much as possible.
Your cat is probably safe nibbling on the grass in your backyard, as long as it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals. If they have access to other outdoor areas, however, you can’t always be sure that these plants are pesticide-free.
Growing cat grass for your furry friends is a safe way to let them have their greens, while ensuring that they aren’t consuming any dangerous chemicals as well.
How to Grow Cat Grass
When growing cat grass, remember that it’s an annual and therefore will require some maintenance to keep up a healthy amount of growth. Another interesting fact is that although it’s intentioned for cats, people can benefit from it too.
Feel free to use these grasses in smoothies, if you feel so inclined. Just make sure to cut the grass an inch away from the soil when harvesting it for human consumption. Unless of course you like a little extra mineral grit in your morning smoothie: then munch away.
Of course, there comes a time where it really isn’t viable to be growing grass on the balcony anymore. This is most relevant for people who live in snowy Northern climates. As for cats, well. After having been a rescue and living who knows where, my Gregor doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of the snow. He’s had enough of that life, thank-you very much!
Is This Grass Safe?
There’s is a general saying along the lines of: “You can have cats, or plants—not both”. If you’re fortunate enough to have a special cat in your life, than you most likely know this to be true.
It may seem counterintuitive for them to want to eat your plants, since their stomachs are unable to digest plant matter. Generally, an animal’s instinct keeps them away from things that could hurt them. If this is something that you’ve been worried about, let me put your fears to rest.
You might be interested to know that ingesting grass and other plant matter can help cats to clear out any hair that they may have swallowed while grooming. Similarly, in the case of cats that hunt, it scours out any little bones or other materials that aren’t easily digestible.
A crude comparison would be to liken this habit to giving one of your cooking pots a good scrubbing.
Cleaning up vomit from your carpets might not be the most fun, but please don’t be mad at your furry friend. They’re simply following their instincts and trying to keep themselves healthy. Offering your feline a pot of cat grass may help to deter them from eating your other—possibly toxic—plants, therefore keeping both of you much happier.
I always felt bad that at a certain point in the year—inexplicably for my cat, I’m sure—the grass outside was simply no longer there anymore. I’d let him out for some fresh air while I watered my Brussels sprouts, and he’d trot over to his grass, which would be slowly turning brown.
He’d look at me like I’d somehow betrayed the poor guy. You’ve probably seen the little containers of cat grass for sale at the grocery store, but these are sad offerings at best. If you’ve bought these in the past, then you probably know that they only live for about 2 weeks, so you constantly have to keep buying more. In fact, I’m pretty sure this aspect is a feature that stores love.
I’m not sure why growing it myself hadn’t occurred to me sooner. One day when my father came for a visit, he showed up with a small bag of cat grass seed in tow. I will be forever thankful for this very helpful revelation.
To start out, you can sow the seeds in any type of container you’d like. Sprinkle the seeds liberally across the soil, and then cover them with about a 1/4 inch of soil. Cat grass likes to be placed in a sunny spot, but it doesn’t like to get overheated.
Don’t place the plant right up against a hot window, and keep it away from upright radiators. Water the soil as soon as it becomes dry to the touch.
Depending on whether your cat likes to knock things over or not, you may want to consider a lower, wider container. These are much more difficult to tip over. If you’re really concerned, you can also grow cat grass without using any soil at all. There will be water and stones to spill, but at least no dirt.
To try this method, fill a jar or small container 3/4full with Growstones, and top with a layer of paper towel. Spread a layer of seeds over the paper towel and make sure to keep well-watered.
Once the seedlings put down roots in amongst the stones, you can reduce the amount of water. Just make sure to keep the level up at first. Soaking the seeds before placing them into the jar can help to encourage sprouting as well.
Don’t Bring the Outside In!
If you’ve been growing cat grass in a small container outside, it’s not a good idea to simply bring it inside during the winter months. I would caution you to check the plant very thoroughly for any pests or diseases, as you may be bringing in a potential threat to your other plants.
Cat grass itself doesn’t pose a hazard to any other household plants, but you never know what might be nestling in it. I’ve had the misfortune of bringing balcony plants indoors, unknowingly bringing pests in with them. As such, they ended up spreading to my other plants. If you aren’t sure, I’d advise that you plant a new crop specifically for indoor use.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially if you have any delicate plants growing indoors. The plant that I infected happened to be one that had been gifted to my care by a dear friend, so I was very sad to realize my mistake.
In regards to when to give your cat access to the grass, it’s a good idea to allow the grass to grow about 2 inches long before letting your cat have free rein. The reason for this is that the grass will be quite delicate in the beginning, and its roots won’t have much purchase in the soil.
Because of this, your cat may end up tearing out clumps of grass accidentally. Depending on the layout of your space and what surfaces you have available, try placing the cat grass on a wide windowsill or even on the floor in a sunny part of the room. Just make sure it isn’t somewhere where you’re liable to trip over it. Furthermore, it should be someplace where your cat can’t easily knock it over.
Care and Maintenance
As mentioned earlier, cat grass is an annual and will require some maintenance. Each crop will only last about 2 weeks, so you’ll need to keep reseeding on an ongoing 2-week basis. You can choose to sprinkle seeds on top of the soil and leave them as is, but this isn’t an ideal method. I always worry that Gregor will somehow displace the seeds before they’ve had a chance to germinate.
Since the seeds are fairly large in size, just push them into the earth where needed one at a time. It’s slower, of course, but I don’t mind. It’s actually quite meditative. One thing to remember when watering the new seedlings is to try not to overwater. The grass blades are of course in very close quarters to each other, and too much humidity can cause rot.
So as you can see, growing cat grass indoors for your feline friend is an easy way to appease your cat’s desire for fresh greens. This plant requires very little care beyond reseeding and watering. It’s a great way to assist your cat in maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and it’s a lovely way to bring a hint of fresh spring green into your home during the dark winter months.
Go ahead and give it a try! I think you’ll be quite pleased with the results. If nothing else, you can be sure your furry friend will thank you for it, and isn’t that really the most important thing?