Cat Grass vs. Catnip – Is There Any Difference?


by Cindy Smith


Is cat grass just another term for catnip? Do these two types of grasses have similar effects on cats? If not, what makes them different? Read on to discover more about cat grass vs. catnip. 

Table of Contents

1. Cat Grass vs. Catnip: Definition

The Cat Grass

Cat grass is a blend of wheat, oat, barley, rye, or alfalfa seeds. It is grown indoors for household pets like cats and contains no chemicals. The most common plant referred to as cat grass is Avena sativa.  


Catnip is a perennial herb that belongs to the Lamiaceae family group, commonly known as the mint family. Over 250 species of this family of mint plants are known. Catnip is one of the most common varieties, called catwort or catmint.

Herb mint catnip nature

Herb mint catnip nature

2. Cat Grass vs. Catnip: The Effects on Cats

 The effect of cat grass vs. catnip is an essential feature that differentiates them.

Cat Grass


Cat grass benefits all cats, including those on a healthy, balanced diet. The Cat grass will add a healthy dose of fiber, which speeds up digestion and relieves the cat from constipation. Cat grass is also loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and chlorophyll, promoting cat health. 

Vitamins for cats germinated oats

Vitamins for cats germinated oats

Induce vomiting

Since cats do not have the stomach enzymes to digest grass, they can eat cat grass to induce vomiting. It chucks out anything that the body either does not like, cannot digest, or is potentially harmful to the body.  

Fur balls

Most of the time, about 60% of the day, indoor cats groom themselves. It makes them prone to hairballs, especially those with long hair or that shed a lot. If your cat has consumed excess hair, cat grass will act as a laxative, pushing out the fur ball.

Keeps the healthy

Cat grass contains antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins that promote good health. Folic acid, a vitamin B complex, is necessary to produce red blood cells, facilitating oxygen transport throughout the body. It also helps your cat’s body repair DNA. 

Cat Grass

Pain Relief

There is evidence that catnip acts as a natural analgesic. It means that catnip can relieve different types of pain, such as headaches, cramping, toothache, and other internal pain.      Its action is similar to aspirin or paracetamol.

Muscle Relaxant

Research shows that applying catnip can help soothe aching muscles and relieve the pain. You can use catnip to relax the strengths of both humans and cats. Add a mug of boiling water with catnip into your bath, or make a cup of catnip tea for your cat. 

Stress Relief

Catnip also offers excellent relief from stress and anxiety for your cat. Any slight change from your cat’s usual routine can negatively affect it, especially if it is stressed or in a new area. It also induces a mild sedative state in cats, calming them down.

Skin Irritation Relief

Catnip helps soothe skin conditions due to its anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically. If cats are constantly scratching themselves, have dry or flaky skin, or show signs of nasty rashes or bumps on their skin, try catnip.   

3. The Cat Grass vs. Catnip: Safety

Catnip vs. cat grass is both relatively safe and non-toxic for cats. Cat grass offers a safe alternative to outdoor grass, which is usually full of chemicals used to treat weeds and pesticides. Catnip’s euphoric effects after exposure to catnip are short-lived and of no harm to cats. 

4. Cat Grass vs. Catnip: Overdose Results

It is doubtful for cats to overdose on catnip, but they can become ill if they take in too much. Your cat may become irritated or experience a slightly upset stomach which is not a big deal. Some cats may show no reaction or behavioral change at all.

When a cat overdoses on cat grass, symptoms can include lethargy and loss of appetite. It should, however, last for only a day or two maximum. 

5. Do Cats Prefer Cat Grass or Catnip?

Some cats enjoy cat grass. However, almost every cat prefers catnip over cat grass. Cats love nepetalactone, an aromatic catnip component that appeals to a cat’s sensory system. It triggers a mind-altering response and euphoria once cats sniff the herb.   

Cat euphoric from smelling catnip

Cat euphoric from smelling catnip

6. Catnip vs. Cat Grass: Difference


Catnip is a perennial herb in Asia, China, the Middle East, and southern and eastern Europe. 

Catnip can grow naturally in many places like woodlands, pastures, meadows, wastelands, or roadsides. Cat grass is also grown indoors and is easy to grow.


Catnip comes in different forms and can be used fresh or dried. It can be eaten, rolled in, or added to toys. It is a stimulant that can enhance your cat’s mood and increase activity in cats. Catnip is safe for cat furniture, scratching posts, and beds. It has also been used in medications in humans for years. 

A cute highlander lynx kitten playing with a catnip toy

A cute highlander lynx kitten playing with a catnip toy

Cat grass relieves mild constipation and is a healthy alternative to potentially toxic plants. Chewing on cat grass is also a great way to push out hairballs or even avoid them. 


Catnip is well-known for its mild-altering and relaxing effects on cats. It gives cats pleasurable feelings, increases their activity, and stimulates hunting behaviors. However, it is not surprising to see cats react differently to catnip.

Cat grass, however, does not cause any mental change. It is, however, helpful to cats. Not only does it give them something to chew on safely, but it also promotes healthy digestion and helps with hairballs.  

7. How to Grow Cat Grass and Catnip

 You can quickly grow cat grass vs. catnip by simply following these tips:

  • Buy your seed mix or ready-to-use seed start and sow.
  • Use a spray bottle to keep the soil damp but not saturated.
  • Once the seed sprouts, reduce water to prevent mold.
  • For cat grass, make sure your seed container is near a window with sunlight.
  • Catnip grows well in well-drained to just about dry soil since it is drought-tolerant. Either full or partial sun will do.
  • Harvest catnip once it’s ready and hang it upside down to dry.
  • With cat grass, when it’s 3 inches long, you can allow your cat to eat directly from the container.
Growing cat grass at home in a plastic box.

Growing cat grass at home in a plastic box.


Now that you know the difference between cat grass vs. catnip and its benefits, you can make your cat happier by offering just what your cat needs.