Cat Grass Growing and Care: Planting, Keeping, Maintaining

Cat grass is a popular plant found in most pet stores. 

It is available either as a full-grown plant or in a kit where you grow your own.

Buying full-grown cat grass is very convenient for pet parents, but it is fun and easy to grow your own from seeds.

But why would you grow cat grass for your pet?

Even though cats are obligate carnivores, they enjoy chewing on plants, such as cat grass. Cat grass contains folic acid, B vitamins, and fiber, which aids in digestion and helps with passing hairballs. It also enriches indoor cats’ lives and keeps them from nibbling on other plants.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of cat grass and how to grow and maintain the plant. 

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Different Types Of Cat Grass

Several kinds of cat grass are available, including wheat, barley, rye, and oat grasses. Each type of grass will offer different benefits to your cat. Cat grass seed packs you find in pet stores usually contain a mixture of all four types of grasses.

To take advantage of its benefits, individual seed packets are available at many garden supply stores and farmer co-ops if you want to grow only one type of grass to take advantage of its benefits.

Wheatgrass is one of the most common grasses, and it is good for cats and people.

Wheatgrass is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. 

Use it to make healthy wheatgrass shots or add some to your morning smoothie. 

Just be sure to leave enough wheatgrass for your cat.

Barley grass grows faster than other cat grasses. 

It also grows much taller, making it a great choice for a multi-cat household. 

The longer length of barley grass ensures there is plenty to go around.

Ryegrass is the most durable of the grasses, and it is also very flexible. 

This flexibility will allow your cat to bend the grass to the ground without it breaking off as easily as other types of grasses.

Oat grass is high in protein and is an excellent source of fiber. 

This high-fiber grass is perfect for long-haired cats because it enables them to pass hairballs more easily.

How To Plant Cat Grass

Despite what some people might think, cat grass is very easy to grow inside of your home. All you need to start is a small container, a few pebbles, potting soil, a drainage dish, plastic wrap, and a misting bottle.

You do not need a lot of potting soil to grow cat grass, so it’s fine to choose a shallow container, but a taller one will allow the roots to grow longer before becoming root-bound.

The container should not be taller than your cat to give the animal easy access to it.

Any container you choose will need to have drainage holes in the bottom of it. 

This allows excess water to drain from the soil and will help to prevent the roots from rotting.

Make sure the container is heavy; otherwise, your cat will be knocking it over frequently.

If your container is large enough, place very small smooth pebbles in the bottom to add weight and provide sufficient water drainage.

Before you plant the seeds, soak them for 4-6 hours to speed up germination. 

Thoroughly rinse the seeds and drain the excess water before setting them aside for planting.

Planting the Seeds, Step-By-Step

  1. Fill the container with loose potting soil until it is around three-quarters full. Lightly mist the soil with a spray bottle to add moisture without completely saturating it as you fill the container.
  2. Sprinkle some cat grass seeds over the soil, being careful to place them evenly. If the seeds are too close together, the grass will be overcrowded.
  3. Cover the seeds with a 1/4″ inch of soil, which is enough to keep your cat from pulling the grass up at the roots. If you plant the seeds too deep in the soil, they may not sprout properly.
  4. Place a plastic or glass drainage dish underneath the cat grass container to catch any water leaks.
  5. Loosely cover the container with plastic wrap and place it in a darkened area at room temperature. Mist the soil when it is dry, but do not soak the soil.
  6. After 3-7 days, you will be able to see sprouts, and at this point, the container needs to be moved to a sunny area of your home. Keep the container away from your cats until the grass is taller. Only water the sprouts when the soil feels dry because any extra moisture in the container will encourage mold growth.
  7. In 10-14 days, the cat grass will be 3-4″ inches tall and finally ready to offer to your cat.

To keep a steady supply of cat grass, use several containers to plant seeds 1-2 weeks apart.

How To Grow Cat Grass Without Soil

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An alternative way of growing cat grass is to use water gel beads instead of soil. Water gel beads work by absorbing water and then slowly releasing it over time. Using water gel beads instead of soil eliminates the need to water your plants, and they are non-toxic, so they are safe for cats.

Water gel beads come in various colors, and they are available at most garden centers and craft stores. 

Choose colors to accent your room, or create seasonal designs for stunning plant displays.

Before you begin, you will need to soak the gel water beads in water for 6-8 hours. 

To ensure you get the most water capacity in the beads, soak them for up to 12 hours.

Water gel beads will release water for 2-3 weeks before they dehydrate and shrink back to their original size. 

Use the beads again by soaking them the same way as you did before.

Growing Cat Grass Without Soil, Step-By-Step

  1. To grow cat grass in water gel beads, you will first soak the seeds for 4-6 hours. Soaking the seeds will make them germinate more quickly. Once the seeds are done soaking, thoroughly rinse and drain them.
  2. Use a small bowl around 6″ inches in diameter for a container, such as a small fishbowl. The general rule of thumb is to soak one teaspoon of water gel beads for every two cups of water your container will hold.
  3. Place several small, smooth rocks in the bottom of the glass bowl for more stability to ensure your cat does not knock it over.
  4. Once the water gel beads are done soaking, place them in the bowl up to 3/4″ of an inch from the top.
  5. Sprinkle the cat grass seeds directly over the water beads, lightly mist them with water, and cover the bowl with a damp cloth.
  6. Put the bowl in a darkened room for 2 days, and mist the seeds 2-3 times per day to keep them moist. If you see mold, remove the damp cloth and allow the seeds to dry out just a little.
  7. At this point, the cat grass will have roots, and you will see green sprouts. Remove the damp cloth and place the bowl in a sunny window away from your cat.
  8. Once the cat grass is 3-4 inches tall, it is ready for your cat.

If you are using water gel balls, it is important to monitor your cat when eating the cat grass.

While the water gel balls are non-toxic, your cat may swat them out of the container and eat them. 

This not only poses a huge risk of choking as your cat attempts to swallow the ball, but it is unhealthy for your cat to ingest plastic.

It is best to never leave your cat unsupervised near the plant using water gel balls.

How To Keep Cat Grass Alive

To encourage your cat grass to thrive, use a properly-sized container with good drainage, do not overwater the plant, make sure the grass gets plenty of sunlight, and cut back any dried out or brown pieces.

Cat grass is easy to grow and maintain, but it may have issues like any other plant. 

Root rot, improper watering, and lack of sunlight are all common causes of dead cat grass.

Caring properly for your cat grass will significantly prolong its life and provide your cat with a healthier plant to nibble on.

You will overcome any difficulties you have growing cat grass with just a few easy changes.

Use the following tips to learn how to keep your cat grass alive and healthy.

Choose The Right Container And Provide Good Drainage

If your cat grass is consistently dying off quicker than you would like, re-pot the plant in a taller container. Not only will a taller container prevent the cat grass from becoming root-bound so quickly, but the longer roots will keep your cats from easily pulling the plant out of the soil.

Cat grass has very fast-growing roots, and it will become root-bound and die in 2-3 weeks when kept in a shallow container.

When choosing a tall container, it should not be taller than your cat. 

If your cat is unable to reach the cat grass, it may ignore it altogether.

If you have a more persistent cat, it will do everything in its power to reach the grass. 

This will greatly increase the chances of your cat knocking the container over.

Any container you use will need to have drain holes in the bottom of it. 

Put a shallow dish under the container to collect any excess water leaking from these holes.

Using rocks in the bottom of the container and ensuring the soil is not compacted also improves water drainage.

Pour the drainage water out of the dish regularly. 

Too much water around the plant’s roots will cause them to rot, which will ultimately kill the grass.

Do Not Overwater The Cat Grass

Avoid overwatering cat grass by allowing the soil to become dry to the touch in between waterings.

You do not need to completely soak the soil when you water it. 

The goal here is to water the soil just enough for it to become damp.

If you notice a lot of water coming out through the drain holes in the bottom of the pot, you are overwatering the plant. 

Overwatered cat grass will start to appear yellow instead of green as well.

If your cat grass does not receive enough water, it will begin to wilt. 

To help the plant recover, fill the drainage dish with water and allow the container to soak in it for up to 12 hours.

Pour the water out of the drainage dish and place the dry dish back underneath the plant. 

Water the grass every day for 5-7 days.

This extra hydration will revive your dry cat grass and help it perk up and start growing again.

Once your cat grass is properly hydrated, resume only watering the plant when the soil is dry to the touch.

Ensure The Plant Gets Plenty Of Sunlight

Keep the cat grass in an area of your home where it can receive at least eight hours of sunlight every day. When the plant does not get enough light, the grass will turn yellow.

To prevent the cat grass from becoming too short, place the plant in a sunny spot where your cat cannot reach it. 

If you leave the plant on the floor all day, your cat will likely obliterate it within a few days.

Give your cat a break from the cat grass to allow the plant to grow tall again. 

This will not only give your cat more grass to chew on later, but it will increase the plant’s lifespan.

A stubby plant is more likely to die sooner than a tall one because it will not have as many sprouts to absorb ample nutrients from sunlight.

Regularly Trim Your Cat Grass

Trim any dead or dried ends of the cat grass. Cats do not like the dry grass, and keeping the plant trimmed to a reasonable level will help it stay healthier.

Trimming the dry ends of the cat grass will allow the plant to send more nutrients to the healthier grass. 

These nutrients encourage plant growth and grass density.

If your cat grass becomes shorter than 4″ inches, either from trimming or excessive cat snacking, the plant will need some alone time to grow.

Keep the grass away from your cat, and make sure the plant gets enough water to avoid drying out on the ends.

Allow your cat to snack on the cat grass once the plant has recovered, but you will want to monitor your pet to keep it from chewing the grass down too low again.

How Long Does Cat Grass Last?

You will be able to prolong the life of your cat grass by taking proper care of it, but it will not last forever.

Cat grass that has been planted in a shallow container will live for approximately 2-3 weeks. Cat grass planted in a tall container may last for up to two months with proper care.

A taller container will allow the grass roots to grow longer before becoming root-bound and killing the plant.

The types of grasses suitable for cats are annual plants. 

This means they will only sprout once per year and then die.

If you want to grow more cat grass, you need to start over and plant new seeds.

Your cat grass will also live longer if you take special care when planting the seeds. 

Keeping the seeds evenly spaced apart will prevent the sprouts from overcrowding each other.

If the grass seeds are too close together, some of them may not germinate at all.

Store-bought cat grass is usually over-seeded to make the plant more thick and lush. 

However, since there are so many seeds with roots fighting for soil, the plant will die off more quickly than the one you have carefully grown.

Once you have grown cat grass a few times, you will learn the best ways to plant the seeds and care for the plant. 

Providing optimum care for your plant will provide you with an abundance of cat grass.

How Much Cat Grass Is Too Much?

Some cats may not eat cat grass, while others will practically beg for it. Eating cat grass is a natural behavior in felines, and there are not many reasons to limit how much grass you give to your cat unless your cat is frequently vomiting.

Cats do not necessarily vomit every single time they eat grass. 

If your cat vomits and you notice pieces of grass in it, your cat is probably passing a hairball.

To help expel a hairball, your cat will eat a lot of cat grass at once and then immediately vomit. 

This may occur several times until your cat is successful at passing the hairball.

There is also a concern about giving a cat too much grass at once because it has a laxative effect. 

If your cat eats a lot of cat grass and is not already constipated, the feline is more likely to suffer from diarrhea.

Monitor your cat’s bowel movements for any sudden changes. 

Cut back on the amount of grass you allow your cat to eat at one time.

How Much Cat Grass Should A Cat Eat?

As a general rule, cat grass should make up no more than 10% of the calories in your cat’s diet. There is not a set amount of cat grass your cat is allowed to eat as far as portion sizes are concerned.

If your cats are voracious cat grass eaters, you will need to limit their time munching on the plant. 

This will keep the plant from becoming stunted, and it will also live longer.

Eating too much grass in one sitting is more likely to make your cat vomit. 

This usually happens because the insoluble fiber in the grass helps to expel hairballs.

An intestinal blockage might occur if your cat eats a lot of grass at once and does not throw it up. 

A buildup of insoluble fiber causes an intestinal blockage. 

This buildup is more likely to happen if your cat does not have a hairball.

If a cat is having issues digesting its food, it will want to eat more grass. 

If your cat seeks the grass out every day and will not stay away from it, your pet may be suffering from stomach problems, such as pain, indigestion, or constipation.

To ensure you always have cat grass available for your pet, use multiple containers and plant the seeds 1-2 weeks apart from each other. 

If you time this correctly, a new batch of cat grass will be ready for your cat to snack on near the same time your current plant dies.