Friday, October 21, 2011
Does your cat like to eat grass? Mine sure do. The minute I let them out for a romp in the morning sunshine, they make a beeline for the lawn. Of course, immediately after this grass gorging, they come back inside to redeposit it on the carpet. When I hear that telltale sound I race over to scoot my cat into the kitchen. The life of my carpet depends on it!
This daily act of carpet preservation was the first thing I thought about when my friend gave me a “cat grass kit” last Christmas. “Are you nuts?” was the second thing I thought about. Like I don’t have enough trouble – now I’m going to grow grass so they can ruin my carpet in the middle of winter, when there isn’t a blade of grass to be found outdoors?
Well, in a moment of weakness (insanity?) I decided to try growing cat grass. The little planter was so cute, and the kit said cat grass was a nutritious snack that provided several health benefits, so it sucked me in. Thankfully, the grass I grew for my cats did not have the same undesirable after-effect. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with the type of seed; it was a welcome surprise nonetheless. My cats also took to it immediately. The first time I put the cat grass down, they nearly mowed it into oblivion. I had to put it on top of the fridge so they couldn’t eat every last blade on the first day.
Cat grass is very easy to grow. It sprouts in just a few days and grows quickly – as much as one inch a day! It’s recommended to let the grass get at least four inches high before letting your cat snack on it. The grass will continue to grow for a few weeks. If your cat is like mine and tries to eat too much grass at once, you may want to put it down for just a few minutes and then put it someplace out of reach.
The Benefits of Growing Cat Grass
Companies that sell cat grass seeds and kits say it provides numerous nutritional and cosmetic benefits. They claim it gets rid of hairballs, aids in digestion, makes the cat’s coat shinier, and freshens their breath. The grass is said to be a great source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber and chlorophyll.
Some veterinarians, however, aren’t sold on the benefits of cat grass. “Do cats need chlorophyll? No,” said Dr. Plotnick of Manhattan Cat Specialists. “Cats are true carnivores, so they are not really designed to eat plants and vegetation. As far as I know, there’s no science to back up the claim that cats need nutrients they can only get from eating grass.”
However, most vets sees nothing wrong with a cat munching on wheatgrass if they have a craving for greens, which many cats do. A clump of fresh cat grass might also serve as a deterrent to keep your kitty from sampling houseplants, many of which are toxic to pets.
What’s in a Cat Grass Kit?
Most kits contain everything you need to grow grass for your cat: a seed packet (typically wheatgrass, oat or a combination) with enough for several plantings, organic growing mix, instructions and a planter. You can also buy packets of seed in the pet store and use your own container. Just be sure to use organic soil or growing mix without chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Instructions for Growing Cat Grass
1. Place growing mix into planter, reserving about two tablespoons.
2. Scatter the seeds evenly on top of the growing mix and sprinkle with the reserved growing mix.
3. Add one-fourth cup of warm water.
4. Place a plastic bag loosely over the planter to create a “mini greenhouse.” The thin plastic bags found in the grocery produce aisle are perfect, as they allow air to circulate and light can still filter through them.
5. Place the planter in a sunny location.
Sprouts emerge in about three days and “grow like a weed” thereafter. When they’re about one inch high, remove the plastic covering. If necessary, you can add a bit of water to keep the soil from drying out, but don’t overwater as this can lead to fungal and mold growth. A light mist with a spray bottle is often all that’s needed to keep the grass lush for weeks – or until your cat has mowed it down, whichever comes first.
See? Didn’t I tell you that growing cat grass was easy? If your kitty likes to snack on grass, why not try growing them some!
Photos by slowping
Read more articles by Julia Williams