Can Humans Munch on Kitty’s Greens? The Truth About Eating Cat Grass

What is cat grass?

Cat grass refers to a variety of grasses grown indoors specifically for cats to eat. It typically consists of wheatgrass, oat grass, rye grass, or barley grass. These grasses are part of the Poaceae plant family and are safe for feline consumption (1).

Cats are attracted to the bright green color and sweet, grassy aroma of these plants. Eating fresh grasses may be an instinctual behavior for cats, as their wild feline ancestors would naturally nibble on greens while hunting prey outdoors (2).

Cat owners often grow pots of cat grass to allow indoor cats access to greens. The grasses satisfy cats’ cravings to chew on plants and aid in digestion. Most cats enjoy nibbling on the tender, young shoots and leaves (3).

References:

(1) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cat-grass-actually-good-cats-dev-sarkar-4ostc

(2) https://cat-world.com/what-is-cat-grass/

(3) https://petsnorms.com/do-cats-eat-grass/

Is cat grass safe for human consumption?

a person holding a small pot with freshly grown cat grass
Cat grass consists of a variety of cereal grasses such as oat, barley, and wheatgrass. These grasses contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and chlorophyll that can be beneficial for cats. However, the nutritional profile varies by specific type of grass and growth stage. Wheatgrass for example is high in vitamins A, C, and E as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids (1).

Despite the potential nutritional benefits, there are some risks of toxicity for human consumption of untreated cat grass. According to veterinarians, fresh cat grasses can contain compounds that may be toxic to humans including alkaloids, nitrates, oxalates, and cyanide (2). These compounds are generally safe for cats in moderation, but can be harmful in large uncontrolled doses for humans.

Additionally, contamination with chemicals, feces, parasites, or microbes is a concern with eating untreated cat grass. Cases of humans intentionally eating commercial or raw cat grass are very limited. But accidental ingestion generally causes only minor temporary symptoms like nausea or vomiting if consumed in small amounts (3).

Overall, while cat grass can provide some nutritional value, it has not been grown, processed or handled to the strict safety standards of human edible greens. Consuming more than incidental amounts would not be recommended without proper preparation and caution.

Sources:

(1) https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-grow-cat-grass

(2) https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/nutrition-feeding/cat-grass-safety-and-information

(3) https://www.quora.com/Can-a-human-eat-grass-to-avoid-starving-If-so-how-long-would-it-keep-them-alive

Potential benefits of eating cat grass

Some potential benefits of eating cat grass for humans include vitamins, minerals, and digestive effects.

Cat grass contains vitamins A, C, E and K as well as minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium according to some sources.https://herbsathome.co/how-to-grow-wheatgrass-indoors/ The nutrients in cat grass may benefit the immune system, bones, blood clotting, and more.

Anecdotal evidence suggests cat grass may support digestion in humans by stimulating bile production and aiding in the elimination of toxins from the liver. However, there is limited scientific research on the digestive effects of cat grass for humans.

cat grass growing under a uv light

Some advocates claim cat grass can cure cancer, treat infections, reduce inflammation, and more but these benefits are unproven. More research is needed on cat grass before such claims can be substantiated.

Risks and side effects of eating cat grass

While cat grass does have some potential benefits, there are also risks and side effects to be aware of when consuming it as a human. One key concern is the potential presence of pesticides or chemicals (Where the Green Grass Grows: Grass Treats for Cats | VCA). Since cat grass is often grown specifically for cat consumption, it may be treated with chemicals not meant for human ingestion. Consuming grass with pesticides could cause toxicity issues.

Eating cat grass can also lead to indigestion, stomach upset, or diarrhea in some cases. The fibrous nature of grass can be difficult for the human digestive system to break down and process (What is Cat Grass? | Hill’s Pet). This could cause gastrointestinal discomfort and issues.

Finally, some people may have allergic reactions to the grasses and grains used in cat grass products. Allergies to wheatgrass or barley grass could cause issues like itching, rashes, swelling or anaphylaxis when consuming cat grass (What is Cat Grass? | Hill’s Pet). Those with plant or grass allergies should exercise caution or avoid eating cat grass.

Recommended dosages for human consumption

When first introducing cat grass into your diet, it’s best to start with small amounts and increase gradually as tolerated. Here are some general dosage recommendations according to experts:

  • Begin by eating 1-2 blades of cat grass per day. Chew the grass thoroughly before swallowing.
  • If well-tolerated, slowly increase to 2-3 blades, 2-3 times per day.
  • The maximum recommended dosage is around 6-8 blades, 2-3 times per day.1

It’s best to start slowly and pay attention to how your body reacts before increasing consumption. Most sources recommend limiting human consumption of cat grass to no more than a few weeks at a time, with at least a week break in between.

Always monitor your reaction and discontinue use if any nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or other side effects occur.

How to grow cat grass safely for human consumption

When growing cat grass for human consumption, it’s important to take steps to ensure the grass is safe to eat. Here are some tips:

Choose organic, food-grade seeds. Look for seeds labeled as food-grade or meant for human consumption, such as wheatgrass or barley grass seeds. Avoid seeds treated with fungicides or other chemicals (source).

Avoid pesticides and herbicides. Do not use any chemicals on the cat grass while growing. Opt for natural pest control methods if needed (source).

using organic methods to grow cat grass

Wash the grass before harvesting. Give the cat grass a good rinse before cutting to remove any dirt or debris (source). Pat dry before serving.

Store properly after harvesting. Refrigerate harvested cat grass tightly wrapped in plastic to retain freshness. Use within a week for best quality (source).

Growing cat grass safely for human consumption requires care in seed selection, growing methods, and storage. Following these guidelines helps minimize risks.

Best practices for eating cat grass

When incorporating cat grass into your diet, there are some best practices to follow for safety and maximum benefit:

Ways to incorporate into diet:

  • Add a handful of fresh cat grass leaves into a morning smoothie for an extra boost of nutrients.
  • Juice fresh cat grass leaves and mix with water or other fruit/veggie juices.
  • Use young cat grass shoots in salads for a crispy, fresh addition.
  • Blend cat grass powder into soups, sauces, baked goods for an easy way to consume.

Recipes with cat grass:

  • Make a green power smoothie with cat grass, spinach, banana, avocado, milk of choice.
  • Add cat grass to pesto sauce for extra green goodness.
  • Use cat grass in place of lettuce or kale in wraps or sandwiches.

Following dosage guidelines:

    person measuring out dried cat grass

  • Start with 1-2 tbsp fresh cat grass or 1 tsp dried per day.
  • Slowly increase over 2-4 weeks to 1/4 cup fresh or 2 tbsp dried cat grass daily.
  • Do not exceed 1/2 cup fresh or 4 tbsp dried cat grass per day.

It’s best to introduce cat grass gradually and follow recommended dosages to avoid potential side effects like diarrhea or stomach upset. Always consult your doctor before adding cat grass to your diet, especially if pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications.

Sources:

https://askmycats.com/can-humans-eat-cat-grass/

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-grow-cat-grass

Who should avoid eating cat grass

While cat grass is generally safe for humans to consume in moderation, there are some groups of people who should avoid eating it:

People with allergies

Those with grass or wheat allergies should avoid consuming cat grass, as it may trigger an allergic reaction. Cat grass contains wheatgrass, barley grass, and oat grass – all potential allergens for sensitive individuals [1].

Pregnant women

Pregnant women are advised to avoid eating cat grass, as it may contain parasitic contaminants like Toxoplasma gondii that can be harmful during pregnancy [2].

Interactions with medications

People taking certain medications like blood thinners or sedatives should exercise caution with cat grass, as it can interact with drugs and impact their effectiveness. Consulting a doctor before eating cat grass is recommended [3].

Expert opinions on eating cat grass:

Many experts in veterinary medicine and nutrition have weighed in with their opinions on the safety and efficacy of humans consuming cat grass. According to veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Coates, “There is no nutritional advantage for humans to eat cat grass and some potentially significant disadvantages” (source). She notes that cat grass can act as a laxative and cause vomiting/diarrhea in humans if consumed in sufficient quantities.

A study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that cat grass can provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber for cats but the concentrations are too low to have significant nutritional benefit for humans (source). The study warned that there have been rare cases of humans developing hemolytic anemia after eating large amounts of cat grass.

Registered dietitian Andy Bellatti advises, “I would not recommend humans routinely eat cat grass. While a few blades here and there will likely not cause harm, there is no evidence of any substantial nutritional benefit, and there are potential risks involved” (source). He says it’s better for humans to focus on eating a balanced whole foods plant-based diet.

In conclusion, while occasional small amounts of cat grass are unlikely to be harmful, experts do not recommend humans regularly and intentionally consume cat grass. More research is still needed on the safety and effects of humans eating cat grass.

The bottom line on human consumption of cat grass

In conclusion, cat grass made from wheatgrass, oats, barley, or rye grasses is generally safe for human consumption in small quantities. Chewing on and swallowing small amounts of cat grass can provide some fibrous bulk to aid in digestion and provide a mild chlorophyll boost[1]. However, eating large amounts of cat grass regularly is not recommended, as it provides very little nutritional value for humans and may cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation[2].

For safe consumption, it’s best to grow your own organic cat grass and limit intake to a few blades per day. Pregnant women, people with digestive issues, and those taking medications should exercise caution or avoid cat grass altogether. While nibbling on small amounts of cat grass is not harmful for most people, it does not provide complete nutrition and should not be used as a food substitute.

The bottom line is cat grass can be a fun, safe supplement for humans, but only in very small amounts. It should never fully replace fruits, vegetables and other whole foods that contain a wide array of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for good health.

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