Do you have a cat at home that eats cat grass and want to know if you can use it for your bunny as well? Or maybe you saw a kit in the store and wondered if it could be a form of enrichment?
Cat grass is perfectly safe for a rabbit to eat. There are debates on its health benefits over hay, but everyone agrees that as long as your bunny can eat fresh foods, there is no harm in feeding them cat grass.
Keep reading to learn more about cat grass and the benefits and dangers for your bunny.
Is cat grass safe for my bunny?
Cat grass is perfectly safe for your bunny. Not only is it safe, but it is also a rather nutritious and delicious snack for any rabbit.
What is cat grass?
As the name suggests, cat grass is a blend designed for cats.
While cats are carnivores and need mostly meat for food, they do use a lot of grass to help with digestion. Cat grass is a safe, healthy way for domesticated cats to get the digestion aid they need.
Cat grass is mostly wheat grasses and is generally made up of the same grasses your bunny would eat in hay form. These include:
Is cat grass better than hay for my rabbit?
In the grand scheme of things, there isn’t much difference between hay and cat grass for your rabbit.
One is simply the dried-out form of another. However, there are minor differences that might make one a little more beneficial than the other.
First off, fresh grass is often more nutritionally dense than hay. Due to the drying process, a lot of the nutrients are leached out.
This is similar to how fresh or flash-frozen vegetables have more nutrients than canned or dried vegetables.
However, hay does contain a lot more fiber than fresh grass. Fiber is one of the most essential components in a rabbit’s diet, as it keeps their system moving and prevents serious issues like GI stasis.
Can rabbits live on cat grass instead of hay?
There is a lot of debate on this very question. A lot of bunny owners stand by rabbits always needing hay without limit. Replacing it with grass, even if just the fresh version of the hay, isn’t an option.
Mostly, this is again due to the fiber content. Rabbits need constant fiber and something to chew on for the health of their teeth and their brains.
Hay provides that unlimited supply of both without adding any nutrients that would increase their weight or make them sick.
However, cat grass does come with a lot more nutrients. Though these are nutrients that your bunny needs in small quantities, giving them unlimited grass can upset their stomachs. Also, they lose out on a lot of fiber.
Some owners don’t seem to mind or think it doesn’t make enough of a difference. If you want to stay on the safe side, provide an unlimited amount of hay with a little bit of grass as a treat or snack.
How to get cat grass for my rabbit?
There are many ways to give cat grass to your rabbit. However, the first step is to get the cat grass. There are two ways to get cat grass for your rabbit safely.
Grow it yourself
The first is to grow it yourself with seeds and starter kits. This can be pretty easy if you have the space. You can find kits in many stores with a plant or pet section. They are also available online.
There are different kinds to fit every individual’s needs. Some are just seeds, so you can plant them wherever you want. Some are boxes or planters, so you don’t need any additional items.
If you want to get fancy, some kits come with a layer to cut off how far a rabbit or cat can chew on it.
This allows the cat grass to continue to grow yearly, and you don’t ever have to worry about your rabbit (or cat) killing the plant.
Some people design it themselves, so their rabbit has an area to play around in the dirt and chew on the grass when they want.
If you are growing cat grass outside, you want to ensure it is far away from where any pesticides are sprayed.
They can get into the grass, and even if you carefully wash it off, it can cause your rabbit to be sick.
Buy from a pet store or plant store.
The other option is to buy pre-grown grass. Like the seeds, you can find them in some pet, plant, and online stores. This is a more expensive method but works well if you are busy or can’t grow enough of the grass to keep your rabbits and/or cats happy.
Benefits for rabbits eating cat grass
Not only is it safe for your rabbit to eat cat grass, but there are also actually some benefits to doing so.
Cat grass provides your rabbit with a lot of nutrients they need in their diet. It also has a decent amount of fiber, though not as much as hay.
Unlike other foods you may feed your rabbit, a lot of the nutrients in the cat grass are ones they can have a lot of. There isn’t too much fat to make your bunny sick and harm GI movement.
The grass in your yard probably isn’t wheat and has different nutrition. However, the most significant difference is that grass outside is usually treated with pesticides.
Even if you give your rabbit grass from an area that isn’t treated, there can be harmful bacteria from undomesticated animal waste.
Cat grass, grown inside, doesn’t have that problem.
Cat grass and seeds are easy to find and can be found even in stores that don’t have items for less common pets like rabbits and mice since it is for cats. This means you don’t usually have to worry about running out.
Rabbits have a lot of natural curiosity. Digging and chewing are great ways for them to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity in a safe manner.
Having mentally stimulated rabbits means that you have healthier and happier bunnies.
What about the downsides?
Cat grass isn’t a perfect solution for every rabbit and owner. There are two major downsides that people may find when purchasing cat grass.
Known as GI Stasis, gastrointestinal distress in rabbits can be fatal. Many people would think that feeding their rabbit fresh food wouldn’t be an issue and that it would actually be better.
However, domesticated rabbits have adapted to eating primarily pellets and hay, and some can’t process fresh food anymore.
When fed fresh food like cat grass and veggies, some bunnies may start to experience issues with their gut.
At first, the cost of cat grass may seem worth it to make your bunny happy, but over time the cost can build up.
This is especially if you buy fresh grass instead of seeds. Rabbits eat grass quickly, so you have to constantly buy more if you want them to have it all the time.
When should I not feed my rabbit cat grass?
There are some conditions where it isn’t safe to feed your rabbit cat grass.
Under 12 weeks
If your rabbit is under 12 weeks, it likely has an undeveloped GI system that doesn’t process fresh food very well.
Most people recommend waiting until your rabbit is 12 weeks old before giving them anything but pellets and hay.
If you don’t know the age of your rabbit, it is a good idea to wait two to three months before feeding them anything else, just to be safe.
Some domesticated rabbits cannot process fresh food
While wild rabbits are able to eat a lot of fresh foods, domesticated rabbits have been trained and adapted to eat a lot of pellets and hay.
For this reason, some rabbits actually can’t digest fresh food very well. If you want to give your rabbit cat grass, start by feeding them only a couple of stalks at once.
This allows you to see how it affects them and check for any negative signs of it.
This should be done with any new food you introduce to your bunny, especially if your rabbit hasn’t had any fresh foods before.
As long as your rabbit can handle it, fresh cat grass is a great addition to your rabbit’s diet. It provides enrichment and nutrients and is made from many of the same kinds of wheat that make up their hay.
That doesn’t mean you should go right now and give your rabbit a lot of cat grass all at once.
Domesticated rabbits have different stomachs from wild rabbits, and some are unable to handle anything other than pellets and hay.
To make sure it won’t harm your pet, try to give them a little at a time for a while.