10

Sometimes I buy a little carton of grass at the pet store for my (indoor) cat to nibble on. She likes it but it always seems to die off within a week or two. I'd really love to have a sustainable grass colony if this is possible. What can I do to maximize the grass's chances of surviving?

Dying cat grass

This carton only cost 99¢, but still...

3
  • What do you do with the carton when you bring it home? – Stephie Jul 12 '15 at 17:33
  • Is there a botanical name listed for this grass? Growing grass indoors is kinda iffy. Not enough light. I'd purchase the proper seed and get a couple of pots going that are two weeks separated. FRESH, new baby grass is much more palatable to cats. Almost like making sprouts. – stormy Jul 12 '15 at 20:05
  • 2
    Generally what is sold labeled as cat grass is just Oats. Or by it's scientific name: Avena sativa – GardenerJ Jul 13 '15 at 10:28
9

I went to Tractor Supply, a farm store, I'm sure there are others, and bought a 50 Lb bag of oat seed (hull on) for about $14.00. Horses like it. I put a 3/4 cup of seeds in wet dirt in a 12" clay or plastic pot drip tray catcher with some holes drilled in it for drainage. Cover the holes w windowscreen to minimize dirt leakage. Dirt's about 1.5 inches deep. The cat loves it. Once sprouted, after about a week, it'll last 2-3 weeks before becoming rootbound and drying back. There is no stopping that, you're growing a big grass in a small space. Well watered, but not too soggy, keeps the stuff going the longest. Full sun at least part of the day helps grow thicker, juicier stems that my cat at least likes better. I keep two going at all times.

Edited upon further experience: Regular fertilization with a weak fertilizer, I use Schulz African violet fertilizer because I have it handy, keeps the stuff green longer, as does 'mowing' with a pair of scissors when it gets over 6-8 inches (20cm) tall.

3
  • 2
    also cats seem to like it better when the grass is young, at least mine do anyway. – OrganicLawnDIY Jul 13 '15 at 4:00
  • how long does it last with the fertiliser? – Seun Osewa Mar 3 '17 at 15:09
  • I've had it a couple months with fertilizer. Eventually the leaves get tough enough that the cat prefers to stand in the pot and stalk any fingers that come poking in. With a big enough container, I'm using hanging planter pots now, the cat may decide that old, long, tough grass is the ideal sleeping nest. – Wayfaring Stranger Mar 3 '17 at 15:52
3

The grasses chance of long-term survival were nixed at the moment when the seed were planted in the pot.

Compare your pot of wheat, oat or other grains1 to a grain field: The individual plants need a lot more space to grow to their full height. The grains for cat grass are planted very close to each other (intentional overcrowding), allowing them to grow only for a short while befor the natural process of elimination leads to their death. This is intentional because a) that's the only way to get a nice "full" pot instead of a few meager stalks and b) because the customer has to come back and buy a new pot occasionally. Without assuming "unethical" motives, the growers know that most cats prefer soft (=young) leaves over old, tough ones and usually just nibble off the ends.

If you want to grow your own grass, you can plant the grains somewhat sparser than in commercial pots (but not too sparsely) in well-draining potting soil. A rather shallow container (2-4 in / 5-10 cm) will do as the roots won't go too deep. Let grow in a light place, possibly even outdoors until the desired lenght is reached. Do not make the pot available to your cat before the plants have grown to 2 inces at least because the roots should intertwine or your cat may pull the plants out of the pot, making a major mess... Ask me, how I know.

When the blades have been nibbeled on and the pot starts to look well-chewed, you can put it back outside and "mow the lawn", meaning you can cut back the grass to about 1-1/2 inch and let it grow back. If you are really lucky, you may repeat this a second time.

By rotating two or three pots in various stages of growth and re-gowth it should be easy to have some available for your cat at all times.

I personally choose not to fertilize my cat grass because I don't want my cat to eat any residue, even if it's organic and because I know that I will be "using" the pot only for a limited time.


1 I'm explicitly talking about grain-based "cat grass" only because I have read reports of some kinds of Cyperus (also sold as cat grass) causing cuts and other injuries. Better safe than sorry, IMHO.

2
  • 1
    Funny side-note: Growing cat grass is the same as growing the "wheat grass" of health-food fame. – Stephie Jul 13 '15 at 19:35
  • Grasses need fertilizer to grow, esp. nitrogen. I like the warning about Cyperus! You know about the lily family being poisonous to cats, yes? But fertilizers I wouldn't worry about. Unless they have other chemicals incorporated...great answer! – stormy Jul 15 '15 at 2:07
2
  1. Use a larger pot.
  2. Use a ceramic pot with a small ceramic dish under (for better drainage).
  3. Make sure it has direct sunlight.
  4. Do not keep indoors with an AC running (without humidity it will dry).
2

"Cat Grass" is usually a grain like barley or wheat, and prefers to have a very deep root system. It won't survive long-term in a shallow pot like that. Even if it did, those grasses are annuals (unlike lawn grasses) and would die at the end of their growing season.

If you want a long-term solution, get wheat berries from a health food store ($1 for a years' supply) and grow it yourself. If you start a new pot every two weeks, you'll always have fresh grass for your cat.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.