Growing Cat Grass and Catnip Indoors
Spring is here! With the grass turning greener and flowers in full bloom, it’s important to know what greenery is safe for your feline friends. For cats who are craving a taste of spring, we’re here to share how to create and cultivate a cat-friendly indoor garden.
Grass is Good
If you don’t know how to feel about your cat munching on grass, don’t be alarmed. Grass can actually provide a great deal of health benefits for your furry friends. Grass is a source of needed trace minerals, micronutrients, folic acid and vitamins A, B and D. It’s a healthy alternative to other potentially toxic plants, and adds fiber into their diet. However, eating too much grass might cause your cat to get sick — it acts as a natural laxative to rid your pet of things that may be causing digestive issues. Your cat will have a more regular gastrointestinal tract, fewer hair balls and less constipation.
Grass in Moderation
Cat grass and catnip are typically quite safe for your cat to have, but moderation is the name of the game. Cats don’t have the necessary digestive enzymes to process large quantities of grass, and overeating can result in excess vomiting. Like any other treat, cat grass should only take up to 10 percent of your cat’s total caloric intake a day in order to fully absorb all of its health benefits.
Catnip vs. Cat Grass
There’s two different types of plants for your feline friend to enjoy this season — catnip and cat grass. While catnip is a member of the mint family, cat grass is generally a combination of various types of grasses, rye, oat, barley or wheat grass that can be grown indoors. While both have health benefits for cats, they’re very different types of plants. Cat grass has a variety of health benefits as explained above, while catnip contains aromatic oils that relax your cat, such as nepetalactone. It stimulates their senses and has a soothing effect. Catnip excites many cats and may be useful as a form of positive reinforcement and encourages activity.
Grow Your Own Kitty Garden
You can bring the spring greenery inside for your cat to enjoy this season! Look for cat grass at your local pet store or try to grow your own using the following steps:
- Sow your seeds. Sow cat grass seeds directly into your soil, about a quarter-inch deep. If you are planting in rows, ensure they are one inch apart. Cat grass can grow indoors all year round since there’s no threat of frost with the unpredictable spring weather.
- Germinate. For indoor growing, keep your soil moist. Partially cover your planting pot in plastic wrap and place in a warm and dark place. After two to three days, your cat grass seedlings should start sprouting.
- Provide direct sunlight. Cat grass will need plenty of sunlight while growing. Make sure your cat grass receives direct sunlight by placing it near a windowsill that can provide full sun exposure.
- Firm the soil. Firm the soil lightly and keep it evenly moist. Be careful not to overwater, as it can ruin the roots.
- Maintain and harvest. Use less water once the seeds have sprouted above the soil line. Once the grass has reached about three inches long, you can feed it to your cat. The roots will be solid enough to not be ripped out, and more will grow in its place.
If you are growing catnip, the steps are similar to growing your cat grass:
- Plant your seeds. You’ll want to plant it somewhere where your cat can munch on it without damaging nearby house plants. Seeds should be placed about a foot apart, so likely in a longer container or pot, and in direct sunlight.
- Water and feed when needed. When the first inch of soil dries up, water accordingly. You can encourage growth by using a water-soluble plant food.
- Harvest. Once you catnip has grown to about 6-8 inches in length, it’s ready to be harvested. Hang upside down to dry. To prolong the enjoyment, dry some catnip in a window and sprinkle it on toys, cat scratching posts or other objects to encourage your cat to interact with it or even sprinkle it on the floor for them to roll in!
Cat grass and catnip are viable options for your cat to enjoy a little taste of the outdoors without the threat of poisonous plants during springtime. With added health benefits, your feline friends will have an extra spring in their step this season!