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Cat Grass vs Catnip: What’s the Difference?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Cat grass and catnip are often confused. When you enter a pet shop you’ll find tons of items featuring catnip available. If you’re wondering why, those answers are simple, many cats love it and cat parents are familiar with it. Unfortunately, not many cat parents know a lot about cat grass and how much their kitties would enjoy having their own patch inside the house. Sure, you’ve most likely seen it, but if you’re here, you likely weren’t aware of what it was. Now’s your chance to learn more about cat grass, catnip, and the differences between the two.

Overview of Cat Grass:

close up of cat grass
Image Credit: Peggy_Marco, Pixabay

Cats keep to a mostly carnivorous diet but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy munching grass just as much as your pet dog. Adding a few leafy greens to your kitty’s diet is actually good for them. This is why stopping by your local pet store to grab a container of cat grass, or deciding to grow your own is a great idea for cat owners.

You may think cat grass is the same as the grass growing in your neighborhood but this isn’t the case. This grass is normally grown from rye, barley, wheat, oat, and alfalfa seeds. You’ll find that cat grass, unlike random grass your cats may eat when outside, is full of good vitamins and minerals your cat needs, along with fiber to promote healthy digestion and chlorophyll.

Pros
  • Easy to grow at home
  • Non-toxic for cats
  • Promotes healthy digestion
Cons
  • Vomiting (which is normal)

Overview of Catnip:

catnip plants
Image Credit: lwccts, Pixabay

Catnip has been a favorite for kitties since the 18th century. That’s a long time for cats to be going crazy for something. Catnip can be found freely growing in many places, but when it comes to our cats, most of us offer them the dried variety offered in our local pet stores. Dried catnip can be placed in and on toys, around scratching posts, and even in our kitty’s treats. When visiting your pet store, you’ll find a wide variety of items featuring catnip to help enhance your cat’s mood.

While not every cat will go crazy over catnip, most of them do. Most of us who own cats have offered our fur babies a taste of catnip to simply see their reaction. The high-pitched meowing, rubbing, and overall sense of chill is quite comical for us to witness.

Pros
  • Non-toxic for cats
  • Easy to find
  • Can be eaten, sprayed, or added to toys
  • Great for cats with anxiety
Cons
  • May cause stomach upset in large doses

More About Cat Grass

While cat grass is often confused with catnip, the two are quite different. Cat grass doesn’t alter your kitty’s brain like catnip. No, it simply gives them something they need, a bit of grass to chew on, safely. With the dangers your cat could face outdoors like animals, dangerous chemicals on your grass, and even your neighbors’ cat grass is a safe alternative for inquisitive kitties who like to chew and those in need of aid with upset tummies and digestive issues. Let’s take a deeper look at this healthy grass cats simply love.

Cat eating grass
Image Credit: Alexas Fotos, Pixabay

Is Cat Grass Safe?

With so many household plants being toxic to cats, many owners wonder about the safety of cat grass. Luckily, this grass is completely safe for your cat. By growing this grass in your home you can help your kitty avoid dangerous toxins they could experience in the outside world and healthily promote their need to chew and be curious.

Why Do Cats Love Cat Grass?

Cats naturally love to chew and get into things. When you offer them their own patch of cat grass, they love it. They’ll also thank you for giving them aid when their tummies simply aren’t digesting food as they should. Eating grass is your pet’s natural way of trying to settle their stomachs. While they may end up vomiting afterward, it helps them rid their bodies of hairballs and other things they need to dispel regularly.

Cat eating fresh green grass
Image Credit: AllaSaa, Shutterstock

Is Cat Grass Easy to Grow?

One of the great things about cat grass is the fact you can grow it yourself in the comfort of your home. You’ll also be relieved to know it’s easy to do. When starting with seeds, all you need is proper sunlight and water. After roughly 2 weeks or so, your cat should have a full container of cat grass to enjoy for a few weeks. Once it begins to wilt or change color, like the grass in your yard, you’ll need to dispose of it and start the process over.

More About Catnip

Catnip isn’t only used for cats. For years, this member of the mint family was used in medications for humans, making it a very useful plant. Once its effect on cats was realized, what feline owner could say no to their babies? Oddly enough, however, these effects are hereditary in cats and don’t show up until your kitten is around 3 months of age. Around 50% of kitties aren’t affected by catnip and could care less if you offer them toys or snacks with it inside. If you have a kitty who loves catnip you should understand this mint plant better. Read on below and learn more about why your kitty loves catnip so much.

catnip leaves
Image Credit: lwccts, Pixabay

Is Catnip Considered a Drug?

Whether we cat owners want to admit it or not, catnip is basically a drug for our kitties. Nepetalactone is the part of catnip that makes our kitties lose it a bit when they smell or eat it. Luckily, the mind-altering effects of this ingredient only last about 20 minutes.

Why Do Cats Love Catnip?

If your cat is a lover of catnip the reason is quite simple, it alters their mind and the way they feel. By adding catnip to their favorite areas or toys, you’ll see your kitty in a better mood. Many owners use this as a way to deter cats from certain areas of the home or to urge them to use new bedding or additions to the home. Catnip is also a safe alternative to help relax cats that may get anxious easily.

tabby cat savoring catnip in the garden
Image Credit: Badon Hill Studio, Shutterstock

Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

Luckily, catnip is safe for cats. There’s no need to worry about your cat overdosing or being poisoned. If they do ingest too much, normally they will experience a slight upset stomach that passes without much issue. Then they’ll be ready to dive in and take part again.

The Benefits of Cat Grass The Benefits of Catnip
Non-Toxic for Cats Non-Toxic for Cats
Easy for Cats to Eat Safe for Cats to Eat
Easy to Grow at Home Readily Available in Pet Stores
Promotes Healthy Digestion Available in Useful Sprays
Helps with Hairballs Helps Cats Relax

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned more about cat grass and catnip, you can make your curious kitty happier by adding these two beloved plants to your cat’s life. You’ll save the lives of your houseplants, enjoy time watching your kitties be goofy, and relax knowing you’re providing your cats with things they love and enjoy.


Featured Image Credit: Left: Catgrass: Peggy_Marco, Pixabay | Right: Catnip: lwccts, Pixabay

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