We adopted our two cats (Maddy and Wally) almost five year ago now and they have always been fond of eating some grass. Initially we didn’t have actual cat grass. Instead the cats would eat some of the grassy weeds that would inevitably pop up here and there. They also liked to munch on some of the longer buffalo grass in the lawn.
A couple of years ago we purchased a pot of cat grass to give them another source of grass to munch on. But to say that it wasn’t very popular would be an understatement. We potted it up and kept it watered so that it was lush and green but the cats still preferred to eat the grassy weeds that popped up.
I had given up on the idea of cat grass until we got cat nets. Now our cats can’t access any weeds or grass from around the yard so I had to come up with another source!
Earlier this year I was researching cat grass and found that commercial cat grass is actually Dactylis glomerata (cocksfoot) here in Australia. Other websites suggested that cat grass could also be grown from wheat, oats, barley and rye. This gave me hope that if I could grow some wheat or oats then the cats might like it better than the commercial cat grass.
I also knew that I already had a source of oats and wheat in the house. That’s because I knew that I had a packet of wild bird seed sitting on the shelf in my cupboard. I bought some at the supermarket a while ago!
The wild bird mix that I have contains wheat and oats (among other things). And because the seed is designed for animal consumption I know that it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals. It is perfect for growing your own cat grass!
The cat grass that I have grown has been a huge hit with both Maddy and Wally. I have been able to grow two good crops of wheat and oats so far and the cats have loved them! In fact Wally eats more cat grass now than he ever has!
How to Grow Cat Grass from Bird Seed
What you will need
Wild bird seed containing wheat and oats
2 large plant pots (I used 25cm or 10 inch pots)
Good quality potting soil
Firstly you will need to separate out the wheat and oat seeds from the rest of the wild bird mix.
You can mix them or keep them separate. I kept the wheat and oat seeds separate so that I could see if the cats preferred one over the other (they seem to like both by the way).
It sounds a bit tedious to separate out grains of wheat and oat but it was really quite quick and easy. I sat outside and listened to music while I did it so it was very relaxing!
As I grew up around farming I know what wheat and oat seeds look like but I have included a picture of each below for those who don’t.
Once you have collected enough wheat and oat seeds set them aside (I collected a small handful of each).
Then fill your pots, almost to the top, with the potting soil.
Now sprinkle the wheat seeds over the surface of the soil in one pot and the oat seeds over the soil surface in the other pot. You can sow the seeds fairly close together so you get a good coverage of cat grass once it grows.
Cover with 6 -8 mm (1/4 inch) more soil and use a fine spray to moisten the top of the pot.
Make sure to make a plant label for each pot so you can keep track of which is which.
Continue watering the pots using a fine spray over the next few days to ensure that the soil remains slightly damp. Depending on the temperature in your area, the wheat and oats should start to sprout within a few days.
The last lot that I planted (in mid spring) sprouted in just under a week. The grass was long enough for the cats to start eating it in about 3 weeks!
After a few weeks trim it back and it should produce some more tender fresh growth.
Future crops of Cat Grass
I planted out some of my wheat and oat seeds directly into the garden earlier this year. Over the winter it has grown and developed seed heads. I am planning on letting this crop fully mature and dry off so that I can collect the seed. You don’t have to do this if you are happy with sourcing your cat grass from bird seed.
I enjoy feeding the birds so I’ll still keep pinching some of the wheat and oats from their mix too!