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Home > Cats > What’s the Difference Between Catnip & Cat Grass? Contrast Facts & FAQ

What’s the Difference Between Catnip & Cat Grass? Contrast Facts & FAQ

cat sniffing at a vase of cat grass

You might know that catnip and cat grass are plants that cats love to chew on. But what is the difference between the two? This article explores all the differences between catnip and cat grass, along with what these plants are, how they affect cats, and how you can use them in your home.


What Is Catnip?

gray cat near catnip plants
Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

Catnip is a member of the mint family. Its scientific name is Nepeta cataria, and it’s a perennial herb that can grow to about 2 to 3 feet tall. The leaves are heart shaped, and the flowers are white or pale lavender. Catnip grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.

What Is Cat Grass?

burmese cat eating grass
Image by: Dmitry Kalinovsky, Shutterstock

Cat grass (Dactylis glomerata) is a common grass that is often found in lawns. It is a cool season grass that has a creeping growth habit. The blades of cat grass are narrow and have a blue-green color. The flowers of cat grass are small and inconspicuous.

Cat grass and catnip are both safe for cats to consume, but they aren’t the same plant.


The Difference Between Catnip and Cat Grass

Catnip is a member of the mint family, and cat grass is a type of wheatgrass. Both are safe for cats to eat, but they have different effects.

Catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone that creates a reaction in most cats, similar to that of a drug. Some cats become relaxed and even sleepy after smelling or eating catnip, while others get frisky. The effect only lasts for a short while, so don’t worry if your kitty seems to be in a daze after indulging in catnip.

Cat grass is not as exciting for cats. It doesn’t contain any psychoactive chemicals, so it won’t make your cat high. But it can be helpful in other ways, like preventing hairballs. Since grass helps cats digest their food properly, eating cat grass can help keep hairballs at bay. It’s also a good source of vitamins and minerals, which is always beneficial for kitties (and humans too!).

So, what is the biggest difference between catnip and cat grass? In short, catnip gets your cat excited or relaxed, while cat grass is just a healthy snack.

orange cat eating catgrassfrom the vase
Image Credit By: Okssi, Shutterstock

Uses of Catnip

While most people are familiar with catnip as a recreational drug for cats, the plant actually has several other uses. It can be used as a natural insect repellent and is often added to mosquito repellents and bug sprays. It can also be used to make a tea that has a calming effect on humans, making it a popular choice for those suffering from anxiety or insomnia.



The main difference between catnip and cat grass is that catnip is an herb from the mint family, while cat grass is a type of grass. Both plants are safe for cats to eat and can provide them with many health benefits, including aiding in digestion, preventing hairballs, and reducing stress levels. If you’re unsure which plant to get for your feline friend, try out both and see which one they prefer.

Featured Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock

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