Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Cat Grass vs. Catnip: What’s the Difference?

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on May 2, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat Grass vs. Catnip: What’s the Difference?

Sure, all cat owners—and even those without cats—have heard about catnip. It has been a staple in the cat world for what seems like an eternity. Once upon a time, it was even believed to help humans with ailments.

You might think cat grass is just another name for catnip. After all, it’s clearly a plant for cats. This isn’t the case—it’s entirely different. So, what makes these two cat-friendly plants stand apart? Let’s get to know each one a little better.

Cat ball divider 1

Catnip vs Cat Grass: The Differences

cat nip vs cat grass
Image Credit: w.karntaweepong, Shutterstock, Lightspruch, Shutterstock
Cat Nip
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic
  • Usage: Can be eaten or rolled in
  • Safe to eat: Yes
  • Affects: Mind-altering
  • Origin: Medicinal herb
Cat Grass
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic
  • Usage: Meant to be eaten
  • Safe to eat: Yes
  • Affects: No mental change
  • Origin: Grown indoors

divider-catclaw1 Overview of Catnip

cat sniffing dried catnip
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

Catnip is extremely popular among the feline population for its feel-good qualities. Although catnip is a plant that freely grows in most environments, it can come in dried or essential oil form.

You can find catnip littering the cat product section of any local or online pet store. Manufacturers make toys, treats, and sprays with catnip for your feline’s leisurely pleasure.

Maybe your cat isn’t much of a catnip candidate. Have you ever given your cat a toy or spray of catnip only to notice no change? It’s not your imagination. Some kitties, as we will learn later, are immune to the effects.

yarn ball divider

Overview of Cat Grass

cat-grass pixabay
Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

When you hear cat grass, you may dismiss it as just another term for catnip, but this isn’t the case. It’s just regular grass that companies set up for you to grow indoors—kind of like a Chia Pet.

Some kitties love to chew on plants. Others may have an issue with hairballs. Companies designed cat grass containers that you self-grow indoors just for your felines to chomp on. It’s ordinary grass without any added chemicals or additives that can hurt your beloved pet.

Just consider cat grass a mixtape of ordinary grasses combined for your felines feeding pleasure.

3 cat face dividerAll About Catnip

Catnip goes by many names like catwort, catmint, and scientifically, Nepeta cataria. It’s actually one of the over 250 mint plant varieties. It was used in traditional medicine for eons, so it wasn’t just valuable to our furry friends.

Catnip was introduced to America in the 18th century and was a feline favorite ever since. While it works great for most, you may find it surprising that not all cats have the same reaction to its compounds.

Image Credit: Sonja-Kalee, Pixabay

Is Catnip a Drug?

In a sense, catnip is like a drug for cats. It changes the brain and momentarily alters behavior for roughly 20 minutes. There is a part of catnip that is tantalizing to a cat’s sensory. It’s called nepetalactone.

Interestingly, showing signs of catnip exposure is hereditary and doesn’t show up in kittens until after at least 3 months of age. An estimated total of 50% of cats have no reaction when they are exposed to catnip.

Is Catnip Safe?

Catnip is very safe for cats. At worst, if your cat is exposed to larger amounts of catnip, it can cause irritation or general upset. And you may have one of the 50% of cats that has no reaction or change in behavior at all.

Can Cats Overdose?

No, cats can’t overdose on catnip. However, if they have too high of a dose, it can lead to some not-so-pleasant side effects like nausea or diarrhea.

cat + line divider

All About Cat Grass

Cat grass is a blend of many kinds of grass grown from seeds. You grow this grass indoors, making it different from lawn grass where there aren’t chemicals, and the grass types are specific.

For most kitties, cat grass can be an excellent alternative to harassing common houseplants. There are some other benefits, too.

Gray tabby lovely fluffy cat eating fresh green gras
Image Credit: KDdesignphoto, Shutterstock

Is Cat Grass Safe? 

Cat grass is perfectly safe for your feline. It puts roughage in their diet and keeps them from chewing on potentially toxic plants. It’s far better to get them some cat grass to chew on rather than having them eat a dangerous plant in your home.

Can Cats Digest Cat Grass?

Cats are obligate carnivores, so you might wonder if they can digest cat grass. Some cats will actually regurgitate the grass, and some will show no interest at all. If they do eat it, it can act as a laxative to clear out their system.

It’s a pretty widespread idea in the pet owner world that our furry friends only eat grass when they have an upset stomach. However, some cats just enjoy munching on it.

How Long Does Cat Grass Live?

The life of cat grass depends on many factors. Standard containers that come with cat grass only allow the grass to live for a short time, typically less than 6 weeks.

However, if you plant your cat grass in a deep pot where the roots can take hold, one batch can last several months.

3 cat divider

Our Favorite Catnip


When it comes to catnip that tantalizes the senses, you may want to try our favorite. Yeowww! Organic Catnip is a sensational choice that you can stick into a toy or sprinkle on bedding. It’s totally organic, using only the flowers, which are the most potent part of the catnip plant. You can use it sparingly or go to town.

The bag is resealable, too. So, you can keep the product fresh between uses. It’s going to be a real hit with your feline friends.

Our Favorite Cat Grass

The Cat Ladies Organic

If you’re looking to try out some fancy cat grass for your purring prince or princess, try the Ladies Organic Pet Compostable Grass Grow Kit. You get a 3-in-1, easy-to-start cat grass kit that will sprout delightfully.

It’s 100% organic, so you won’t have to worry about your kitty eating anything that could potentially harm them. If you have a houseplant eater, it’s worth a shot to help them curb the habit.

cat paw dividerConclusion

So, now you have a good understanding of how cat grass and catnip differ. You can purchase accordingly—or even try both. Your cat may love the variety of delightful treats you offer. Some kitties may turn up their noses at both, but you’ll probably find that one works wonders.

Remember, catnip is a herb that makes your cat crazy for about 15 minutes. Cat grass is for those naughty felines who like to rip your plants to shreds. Which is the cure-all for your cat?

Featured Image Credit: gvictoria, Shutterstock, QueenNuna, Shutterstock/  CNuisin, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.