Giving Your Kitty Salad Bar to Nibble On

There’s no question that some kitties like a little “greens” with their meals and enjoy munching on plants. My late cat, California, loved everything from wheat grass to fresh catnip, along with plants such as that typical garden border plant called Alyssium, as a part of her regular diet.

It’s not really understood why felines, who are inherent carnivores, have a taste for a variety of grasses, leaves and even sometimes bark along with certain vegetables and fruits. My kitten Ziggy literally does feline cartwheels for honeydew melon! In fact, the Companion Animal Behavior Program at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has an on-going study on grass and plant eating behavior in cats (and dogs). And you can help by sharing your own experiences by taking a 20-minute, on-line survey here: Cat Plant Eating Survey.

When it comes to plants, as a pet parent it’s a matter of being vigilant and knowing what plants are safe and what are toxic. Surprisingly there are a lot of common grasses as well as popular indoor houseplants that are on the “safe list”.

If your kitty is allowed to spend time outdoors in a safe, sunny enclosure, she would probably enjoy a little salad bar featuring various grasses, which are very easy to plant up in a container for her to enjoy. If you choose a round planter, you can make it a really decorative feature by planting the tallest plant in the middle, with the shorter ones around it and fill in the gaps with alyssium or wheat grass. Both alyssium and wheat grass grow very quickly from seeds. Also, I want to let the cat out of the bag so to speak and share a secret about wheat grass. When purchased from pet stores or florists, it can be quite pricey. But look for it in the produce aisle of the grocery store; it’s usually a fraction of the price for the same-sized container!

Four very common grasses that are cat-friendly are Pennisetum ‘Eaton Canyon’; Scirpus Cennuus, better known by its common name of ‘Fiber Optic Grass’; Carex Evergold and Helictotrichon sempervirens, commonly known as Blue Oat Grass.

When it comes to indoor plants, a lot of very beautiful tropical plants such as orchids, and certain palms are non-toxic. So it’s possible to enjoy decorative plants and let your cats eat them too! Here are some plants to research for indoor planters: Oncidium orchids, Chamaedorea Elegans commonly known as Parlor Palms, Pellaea rotundifolia, commonly known as Button Ferns and ever popular African Violets.

If you are unsure about a particular plant, be sure to check it out on plant lists published on and And for details how to plant up planters according to a specific plant map, please check out the chapter on Edible Gardens in my book Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat (available on

By the way, the idea that cats chew on grasses to induce vomiting is simply a myth. Cats are really smart. Some foliage is really hard to digest. So they simply vomit it up instead of forcing it down their digestive tract!

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