- If the roots are starting to crowd out the pot, repot the cat into a deeper and wider one
- Use a pot with good drainage, or water more often but lightly so there is no water at the bottom
- Make sure it’s getting light for most of the day
- If the ends are going dry and brown, cut it back
1. Use a Deep Plant Pot
Cat grass usually dies when the roots have filled the container so they cannot get water. The grass has exhausted the initial energy that made it grow, so it is now stunted and cannot keep going.
This situation is called becoming rootbound, and the answer is to get a deeper pot.
With a deep pot, the grass can keep going for longer as there is loads of space for the roots. Grass in a shallow container usually becomes rootbound and starts to die after ten days, but with a very deep pot, it can keep going for six weeks to two months.
The grass to give a cat is oat, barley, wheat, or rye. Oat is the most popular. These types of grass need depth for the roots and will dye quite quickly if they are in a shallow pot.
It will never be like growing outside on a lawn where the roots can keep going on and on, but it is the closest we can get.
2. Repot the Plant into a Bigger Plant Pot
If the tips of the grass look dried and ragged, then this is the first thing to do.
Some people use wider trays, but I use deep plant pots and have had great consistent results.
- Get a pot that is deeper and wider than your current one.
- Fill the pot with potting soil, making sure there is enough space in there for the cat grass you are repotting to fit on top.
- Make sure the soil does not have pesticides or herbicides in as they can be seriously toxic to your cat. If you have used the pot and drainage tray before and they could have pesticides or herbicides on, wash them first before using.
- Place the cat grass gently on top of the soil, press it in a bit, but only softly. Then add any soil around it is connected to the rest of the soil.
- Gently water it, so there is no standing water and it has all been able to drain away. You don’t want any standing water or to drown the roots. The aim is for it to pass over the roots so they get what they need and no more.
3. Use a Pot with Proper Drainage
Cat grass kits often come with containers that don’t have drainage holes. This is because people want to buy cheap cat grass kits, but it means they don’t last as long and you have to buy more.
You want drainage, which is so good that the water easily flows out of it, so there is no chance of the root getting drowned and rotting.
Here is a picture of a pot with proper drainage. It’s the best choice for growing plants, why not use it for grass? There are also loads of plant pot designs out there that look pretty as well.
The pot also needs a tray below it to collect the water that comes out.
Plant pots make the grass higher up than a tray, but I have never seen a cat have a problem with this. It actually means they don’t have to bend down so far. Also, they love the better grass that comes from a proper pot.
4. What to Do If the Pot Does Not Have Drainage Holes
You can simulate the drainage inside a cat grass kit pot, by only putting a bit of water in there and doing it more often.
Make sure you stop watering once you think it could build up at the bottom. You want the bottom of the pot to be dry.
This means there is water at the top of the soil, which will slowly seep down, but it never drowns from the build-up of water at the bottom.
You need to be very gentle when applying the water, only have a little bit coming out of the tap at a time so you can time it. It is a skill that takes practice but does work.
5. Use Soil That Can Drain
You need to ensure your soil drains nicely; so:
- There are no puddles at the top of the soil.
- It only feels gently damp to the touch, almost dry.
- The water drains away easily and quickly.
The right soil
Clay soils don’t drain well, so make sure you use a suitable soil type.
Some cat grass kits say the high nutrient soil does not drain so well. So they only provide enough to go on top of the seeds, and you have the seeds lying on looser soil made out of larger bits.
I am not sure if this is budget-cutting on their part though, because I find standard quality potting plant-soil drains perfectly well.
Also, make sure the soil is not too heavily compacted. This can also happen with heavier soils like clay and loam, but even with a lighter sandier soil if it has been pushed down a lot.
As well as stopping the soil from draining, it can also cause root compression.
Check the soil before you plant the seeds to makes sure it is not too compacted. If it is, then break it up using your hands or a stick. Make sure you do this when the soil is dry or you might not get the soil texture the grass needs.
This is something that needs to do before you plant the seeds, as you never want to do anything that could damage the roots.
6. How Much Water Should the Grass Have
It’s so tempting to water the grass more to try and make it grow better, but you need to let the roots get oxygen. So too much water is not helpful.
I water my cat grass once a day or twice at most. I have not found any improvement from doing it more than that.
Soak the seeds for 8-10 hours before planting them; I have tried not doing that and compensating by watering the soil more, which did not work.
If you have overwatered it, take the soil out of the pot and leave it somewhere with lots of dry fresh air so it can dry out.
If you did not give it enough water
When you start growing cat grass, it can be easy to forget to water it.
You don’t forget to give your cat food, water, clean its litter tray, and so on because they are essential and instinctive things to do. Not watering the cat grass is an easy thing to do.
Its time for emergency intervention to save your cat grass from dying.
If you see, its starting to wilt due to lack of water. Soak the plant really well directly in the drainage water, or some other water for up to 12 hours. Take the plant and soil out of the pot if needed to put it directly in there.
Then drain off the excess water, and water it twice per day in the usual way for 5 to 7 days.
7. You Can Keep Your Cat Grass Alive for a Long Time, but Not Forever
Using the tips in this article, you can keep your cat growing for up to about two months. However, you can’t keep it going forever.
Regular lawn grass reproduces by sending their seeds all over the place, but the type of grass used for cats does not reproduce and spread.
There are two types of grass seed:
- Perennial: Last for more than one year
- Annuals: Grass types that only last a year.
The type of grass given to cats is annual breeds. They are usually breeds such as wheat, oat, rye and barley, because they are gentle to a cat’s stomach.
8. Make Sure the Grass Seeds Are at Least a Quarter of an Inch from the Surface of the Soil
If the seeds are too close to the surface, the cat will pull them out with the roots when they eat the grass. Cats prefer just to eat a piece of grass so there is still some left above the soil so that it can grow back.
However, if the blade of grass is not deep enough in the soil, it will come out when the cat eats it. Once a blade of grass has come out, roots and all, the cat cannot replant it.
The balance to this is not to sow the seeds deep or they will not germinate and be able to finish their journey above the soil to get sunlight.
¼ of an inch deep is best.
9. The Right amount of Light
Full sun at least part of the day helps it grow into the thicker, and juicier stems that cats like better. It’s best if your grass gets at least 8 hours of daily light because it is an outdoor plant.
Not enough light
If the grass is pale-colored or yellow going down to the roots, it is probably not getting enough sun, especially if it is young grass.
It doesn’t have to be direct sunlight, but in a decently light area.
I have managed to find a place on a shelf high above my hob that the grass gets sun, and my cat also can’t get to it.
He only gets it once the grass is at least 4 inches tall, as until then, it is not strong enough to survive him eating it all, and he pulls it out from the soil when he does.
If the grass is in a really bad way, put it in strong direct sunlight for a few hours. If this does not make it get better, then it could be at the end of its natural lifespan, and its time to sow some new grass.
Too much light
If the grass blades are slightly brownish or yellow, maybe it is getting too much heat and water.
Sometimes direct sunlight through a window can be really strong though, and it cooks the grass. So you may need to put it in a place where it doesn’t get direct sunlight. Especially in the summer or if you live in a hot place.
If it is long grass, it has been in the same place with the same weather and doing fine for a couple of weeks. The grass is probably coming to its natural end for the depth of pot you have, try a deeper one.
10. Oat Grass Is Good
There are many different types of grass; sometimes different types are used for lawns in different parts of the world as they are better at coping with local climates.
You need to make sure you grow a type that is good for cats, oat is good, and some people use its Latin name of Avena sativa.
Other types suitable for cats are wheat, oat, rye, and barley.
11. Cut with a Pair of Scissors Once It Starts to Wilt at the Top
When the grass begins to go brown and wilt at the top, you might get a bit more life out of it for your cat by cutting it down a bit.
Also, cats like it when the grass is young and succulent. When it gets longer, it is not so great.
Cats like the juicy bits, with long grass they may even eat from the bottom up. Some cats aren’t into really long grass as the ends are always dryer. So your cat may like it if you cut the grass.
With a cat grass kit where the pots are shallower, so the grass does not live as long, I cut it when it is 6-8 inches long. This seems to give the cat another few days of interesting grass to eat.
If you grow the grass in a deep pot, then it will stay succulent even when it is much longer than that.
However, if the grass is dying because it is rootbound, which is where the roots have grown too big for the pot, doing this will give it a few extra days because it reveals the lower-down parts of the grass shoots that are probably still healthy. However, it will not make it last much longer than that.
12. Not All of the Grass Seeds Will Make It
When you see premade cat grass in a store, it’s so luscious and dense because they sowed loads of grass seeds. They planted so many that some were on top of each other.
As well as to create density, it is also because not all of them will make it, and some will die.
The overcrowding also means even fewer seeds will make it, as the process of natural elimination means some of the shoots crowd each other out, which is another reason why they die.
13. Air Conditioning Makes It Too Dry
Grass needs humidity, and air conditioning dries out the air.
If you need to have your air conditioning a lot, then try a water sprayer like the ones people use on bonsai trees. They use these to water them in a gentle way that does not damage or move the soil, but you can use it to soak mist around your cat’s grass.
Air conditioning makes things dry out quickly that you will need to do about every hour you have the air conditioning on.
Another solution is to use a humidifier.
14. You Shouldn’t Fertilize Cat Grass
This may help the grass, but it can harm your cat, so be careful on this one. I have never needed to add it to keep cat grass alive or stop it dying.
Also, you shouldn’t use pesticides or herbicides as these will hurt your cat.
15. Your Cat Chomping the Grass Can Put It Under Extra Stress
When cats each grass, they can tear it away and that puts the roots and grass under stress.
I found this can be a problem if the grass is in a shallow pot like supplied in many cat grass kits.
Also, if you give it to your cat before it is a few inches high, as it is not strong enough to cope with the stress of your cat eating it.
If your cat is quite aggressive to the grass when it eats it, you may like to take it away for most of the time. Then only leave it out for short periods. This reduces how much your cat can put it under stress.
Of course, when you leave the grass in an inaccessible place, you need to make sure it is still getting the light it needs.
16. Using a Plant Spray Mister Is an Excellent Way Not to Overwater It
People often use these to water bonsai trees because they are so delicate. When they water with a mister, it doesn’t don’t damage or move the soil. They are also used to water indoor plants like succulents and herbs.
The advantage with cat grass is they make it harder to overwater the soil.
17. Buy Your Own Pot, Soil and Seeds Instead of Using a Cat Grass Kit
The cat grass kits are cheap and convenient. All the instructions are there, and the ingredients are in the box.
However, they are cheap because of the shallow pots they use that don’t have drainage holes, and this is very limiting.
Even with the tips in this article, such as only putting a little water on top of the soil so it drains down to the bottom, and does not get over wet. They don’t get great results every time because they are such small delicate things for grass to grow in.
I found that by using a deep pot with standard plant-soil, the grass grows well EVERY time!
It is so much easier, creates longer lasting grass, and is a more pleasant experience, so I am happy doing it.
Whereas with a cat grass kit, on average more people are tempted to give up after having done a few batches. This is because it’s so difficult to get a good crop from them, and they die more quickly.
Using a cat grass kit was too much stress because it is so much more difficult to get a good crop and it dies so much more quickly.
18. Most People Need Another One Ready for When Their Current Cat Grass Dies
Even if you use a deep pot, so the roots have lots of space not to get rootbound, the cat grass will still die after 6-8 weeks. So even the most experienced cat grass person starts sowing seeds about four days before they think their existing one is going to be at the end of its life.
Writer: Ian Taylor