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Is cat grass just oats?

What is Cat Grass?

black and white cat sniffing cat grass

What we humans have come to refer to as “cat grass” is completely unrelated to the grass we grow outdoors for our lawns. Instead, it’s the sprouts from cereal grass seeds, usually wheat, oat, rye or barley.

cat grass with roots

When planted close together, cereal grass seeds sprout into the dense, lush indoor plant known as cat grass.

Do indoor cats need cat grass?

  • Much less likely to pick up fleas and other parasites, including viruses
  • Not preyed-upon by coyotes or other urban wildlife
  • Safe from cars!
  • Safe from other cats in the neighborhood

On top of all that they stay much cleaner indoors, which makes them much more welcome on the furniture or in your bed – where they will most likely spend a large part of their time. This fact does not mean they won’t still groom themselves diligently, and that’s where cat grass becomes such an important part of their lives.

  • Helps cats cool off
  • Neutralizes their scent
  • Removes debris and parasites
  • It strengthens their bond with other cats (and with their humans, if you’re lucky!)

cat groom another cat with his eyes closed

As you may have guessed, the result of all this grooming can be a build-up of fur in the digestive tract. Sometimes the fur just naturally passes through and isn’t an issue, but it can also compress into a mass that is too large to easily move through their system. These charming little globs are known as hairballs.

Can cat grass help relieve hairballs?

Cat Grass is an excellent natural hairball remedy because it provides gentle and effective fiber, which is something that is usually missing from the largely carnivorous diet that is normal and necessary for cats. In the wild, the big cats get some of that essential fiber from the stomachs of their prey, many of which are grazers. Yuck, right? But even with this, cats in the wild can sometimes be seen eating wild grasses, and these can be pretty harsh.

Cat who loves cat grass with cat grass on the ground

Some types of wild grass (even lawn grass) have finely serrated blades that can stick in cats’ throats. Cat grass has smooth, softer blades and is much more pleasant to eat – even the big cats can appreciate the difference!

What other benefits does cat grass have?

Aside from acting as a hairball remedy, cat grass provides life enrichment for indoor cats. Having their own, fresh indoor garden helps to satisfy that essential connection to Nature most indoor cats instinctively crave. The craving for fresh greens can often lead indoor cats to chew on potentially harmful houseplants or cut flowers. In fact, many popular houseplants are toxic to cats and other animals. Here’s a list of plants that should be strictly avoided if you have indoor cats and other pets.

For more on this subject, see our post “Are Your Plants Safe for Your Pet?” I love my cats, but I also like having plants indoors. Keeping a pot or two of Cat Grass accessible is a great way to keep both my cats and my plants happy and thriving!

cat biting a house plant

Can cats eat cat grass every day?

Many cats enjoy cat grass daily as part of a balanced diet. The only precaution we recommend is to take note of how much cat grass your cat eats when you first introduce it to them. It rarely happens, but once in a while a cat will get so excited about having delicious, juicy greens to munch on that they overdo it! I think we all know the effects of too much fiber on the digestive system, especially when one is not used to it. Toxicity is not an issue, but overeating could cause some stomach upset and loose stool.

Does cat grass make cats high?

I’m not sure why this happens, but some online articles talk about “cat grass” and “catnip” as if they are the same thing, and maybe that’s where this misunderstanding originates. But the answer is no, cat grass will not get your cat “high.”

What is the best grass for cats?

At Pet Greens, we believe wheatgrass is the best all-around grass for cats to eat, which is why our pre-grown live Cat Grass is 100% Certified Organic wheatgrass. The healthful properties of wheatgrass are unsurpassed by the other cereal grasses, including having the highest concentration of chlorophyll. although all share many of the same benefits.

Oat grass, rye grass and barley grass are all sprouts of those cereal grass seeds, and share many of the nutritional properties of wheatgrass. These grasses are often grown and sold as cat grass, and some cats prefer one over another. That’s why we created two kinds of cat Grass Self-Grow Kits: Garden is 100% wheatgrass, and Medley is a blend of oat, rye and barley grasses. Variety is the spice of life, after all!

Can other pets eat cat grass?

Many dog people will see their pup chomping on lawn grass a short while before vomiting, but they know this is usually not cause for concern. Grasses, and even cat grass, can act as a natural emetic, which animals will instinctively use to soothe an upset stomach. More often, however, dogs and other pets are drawn to the sweet, juicy flavor of the tender blades. They also appreciate having fresh greens in their environment – cat grass becomes their own personal indoor garden. Learn more on why dogs eat grass in this blog.

Eating Your Greens: The Basics of Cat Grass

When confronted with the topic of healthy eating, we, as humans, are frequently reminded of the importance of including daily greens in our diets. Does your cat’s diet need the same?

a cat hiding behind grass

Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, discusses the basics of cat grass that every cat owner should know.

“Cat grass isn’t any one type of grass but can be a combination of grasses, such as rye, barley, oat, and wheat,” Teller said. “Cat owners can buy kits at many stores to grow cat grass for their kitties.”

Most owners don’t need to rush to the store to purchase this grass for their pet, however, as it is not always necessary to complete their diet.

“Cat grass is not a required part of a cat’s diet if the food they are eating is well-balanced, but it is something that many cats enjoy,” Teller said. “Especially for indoor cats, it can be a source of environmental enrichment. In some cases, it may provide some micronutrients, such as vitamins A and D.”

The reasons cats seek out such grass are still unclear. Though veterinarians have yet to come to a consensus on one definitive answer, several theories exist.

“One theory is that cat grass is a source of fiber that can either act as a mild laxative or trigger vomiting,” Teller said. “When cats lived in the wild, they may have eaten grass to trigger vomiting to rid their stomachs of the non-digestible parts of the prey they ingested. It is also thought that the chlorophyll contained in the grass could serve as a mild pain reliever and help keep the cat’s breath fresh.”

Teller also advises that owners shouldn’t be nervous about introducing cat grass to their pet’s environment, even if it something their pet hasn’t yet encountered.

“For outdoor cats, homegrown cat grass will be safer than what they may nibble on outside because those plants may have been exposed to chemicals or water contaminated with bacteria that may cause disease,” Teller said. “While it would not be dangerous to have the cat grass freely available, if a cat seems to eat it voraciously, then it may be worth consulting with a veterinarian to determine if the cat’s diet is meeting all of its nutritional needs.”

Owners residing in multiple-pet households can also be assured that cat grass is likely a safe addition to their home.

“It is not likely that cat grass would be a problem for other animals in the household,” Teller said. “The bigger concern would be if a cat or other animal confused cat grass with other plants in the home that are potentially toxic. It is important to keep those plants out of reach of any pets.”

Ultimately, the decision to introduce cat grass to a feline friend is up to their owner. As always, cat owners should consult with their veterinarian if they are concerned about nutritional deficiencies in their cat’s diet.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

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