How to make a grass pot for cats

How to make a grass pot for cats

Even though cats are carnivores, many cats like to nibble on plants or grass. However, eating grass and plant material isn’t always good for cats. Some houseplants and flowers are toxic to cats, and grass from your lawn can contain dangerous fertilizers, pesticides and weed killer. Luckily, there’s a safe alternative: cat grass.

What Is Cat Grass?

Cat grass, sometimes called kitty grass, is a special cat-safe grass intended to be used as a treat or snack for your indoor cat. Cat grass can be purchased already grown, or you can buy kits with trays or bags of seeds for you to water and sprout yourself right in the container.

The term “cat grass” describes not one specific type of grass, but a variety of grasses that are safe and nutritious for cats.

Some popular varieties include wheatgrass, oat grass, rye grass, barley grass, alfalfa grass, and flax grass.

Cat grass is not the same as catnip (Nepeta cataria), which is an herb in the mint family that cats find intoxicating.

Where To Buy Cat Grass?

You can find cat grass in more places than you might think.

Most pet-supply stores sell already-sprouted grass, as do many veterinary hospitals, grocery stores, hardware stores, and nurseries. You can also purchase kits to grow the grass at home.

Cat grass kits are available from online retailers like Amazon, Chewy and Petco, and come with everything you need to grow cat grass, including a container (tray, bag or box), soil, and seeds. All you need to add is water and sunlight.

How to make a grass pot for cats

Many cats enjoy snacking on cat grass.

How To Grow Cat Grass?

If you’re looking for simplicity, purchase a tray of cat grass that’s already grown at your local pet store. If you can’t find grown cat grass, buy a cat grass kit and follow the instructions on the package.

The directions may vary somewhat depending on the kit you buy.

Start By Dampening The Grass

To grow cat grass, you usually start by dampening the seeds with water and wait for them to sprout, which can take anywhere from a few days to a week.

Lightly Water Daily

Lightly water your sprouted cat grass daily. You want to keep the soil moist but not wet. Watering with a spray bottle can ensure you don’t use too much water. Place the cat grass in a warm spot in your house that gets indirect sun.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Avoid placing cat grass in direct sunlight, which can burn the grass.

Let It Grow

Don’t let your cat eat the cat grass until it grows tall enough (about 4 to 6 inches high). It will take about one to two weeks for the cat grass to be ready for your cat to nibble.

How to make a grass pot for cats

Keep your cat grass in a warm room with indirect sunlight.

Make Your Own Cat Grass Garden

Cat owners who have green thumbs may enjoy growing DIY cat grass at home without purchasing a specific cat grass product.

Start With Seeds

Simply buy cat grass seeds of any cat-safe grass (wheat, oat, rye, barley, alfalfa or flax), fill a container with potting soil, place the seeds on top and water lightly.

Choose Your Location

Make sure the container you choose is deep enough to allow the roots to grow and has holes for good drainage. Place the container in indirect sun and water lightly with a spray bottle every day until you see the seeds sprouting.

Wait Patiently

Your cat can enjoy the cat grass once it is 4 to 6 inches high.

You can grow one type of cat grass or mix cat grass seeds together to grow a variety. You might even try growing different types of cat grass in different containers to see which type of cat grass your kitty likes best.

Stagger the planting of your different grasses so you always have fresh cat grass ready for kitty to enjoy!

How to make a grass pot for cats

Adult cats and kittens can enjoy snacking on cat grass.

Keeping Your Cat Grass Healthy

The most important part of taking care of cat grass is making sure it doesn’t become moldy. Avoid overwatering the grass. Too much moisture is the main reason cat grass might begin to grow mold.

Inspect the cat grass daily for mold, and throw it away at the first sign of mold. Healthy, well-maintained cat grass lasts anywhere from one to three weeks. If the tips of the grass dry out and yellow a little, simply trim about 1 inch off the top of the grass.

Once the grass begins to wilt or turn yellow all over, it’s time to toss it. Always throw out any cat grass that develops mold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cat grass good for cats?

It’s safe to feed your cat small amounts of cat grass as a treat. Many cats enjoy nibbling on cat grass, but because cats are designed to digest a diet of mostly meat and not much plant material, some cats may vomit after eating cat grass.

Does cat grass make cats vomit?

Since cat grass is difficult for cats to digest, some cats throw up after snacking on cat grass. This should not be a cause for concern as long as the cat goes back to normal afterward, and is not otherwise acting sick.

What are the benefits of cat grass?

Cat grass provides roughage (indigestible fiber), which may assist with digestion and act as a laxative, helping move hairballs through the digestive tract. Cat grass also contains chlorophyll, which might freshen breath. Cat grass may also provide phytonutrients, folic acid, vitamins and trace minerals. Cats enjoy nibbling on cat grass, so it provides enrichment and enjoyment.

How is cat grass different from normal grass?

Cat grass is a much better option than outdoor grass. Cat grass is grown indoors without any of the fertilizers, pesticides or weed killers that are often found on outdoor lawns.

Does cat grass grow back?

Cat grass does not grow back—you must plant new seeds in order to grow a fresh batch of cat grass. Once sprouted and allowed to grow to 4 to 6 inches high, cat grass lasts about one to three weeks before it wilts and dries up.

About Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown is a freelance writer specializing in the pet industry. She writes on all pet and veterinary topics, including general health and care, nutrition, grooming, behavior, training, veterinary and health topics, rescue and animal welfare, lifestyle, and the human-animal bond. Jackie is the former editor of numerous pet magazines and is a regular contributor to pet magazines and websites.

If you love your cat, it’s a good idea to make an indoor cat garden for her. Just follow this step by step guide to do this!

If you’re like me who loves her cats, you’ll surely approve of my idea of creating a CAT FRIENDLY GARDEN. Make an INDOOR CAT GARDEN–An oasis for your dearest kitty.

How to make a grass pot for cats

As I love growing plants indoors, I always keep care when choosing plants– if they are safe for my kitty. So the first thing I suggest you for creating an indoor cat garden is to avoid growing plants that are toxic to a cat.

Avoid Growing Plants That Are Toxic To Cats

Grow cat safe plants, make a list of plants that are toxic to cats– When doing this, leave the plants that contain calcium oxalate as they don’t possess a real threat and are mildly toxic. We also published a list of Plants that are toxic to dogs a while ago, take help of it. Again, you can exclude plants from your not growing list that contain ONLY calcium oxalate crystals like pothos, peace lily, philodendron or Chinese evergreen!

Many of our readers suggested through emails and comments that we should not label plants that contain calcium oxalate as toxic and we are in agreement.

Research to find out what are the most poisonous plants for cats! Some plants that can be toxic to cats are the flame lily, tiger lily, azalea, sago palm, oleander, cyclamen, daffodils, etc.

Grow cat safe plants, plants that cats love to nibble

How to make a grass pot for cats

Cats love to play with plants and to bite them sometimes; you already know that! I have a few terracotta planters, broken; due to my cat’s mischief. If you too have broken pots, look at these DIY ideas. So, is not it a good idea to grow plants that your cat will love to nibble? It’s easy if you have a window that receives some sun, you can create a Windowsill garden for your feline friend.

Here’re some plants to consider:

How to make a grass pot for cats


Grow valerian. A medicinal herb, safe for cats. Most cats love rubbing, sniffing, and eating this plants and its healthy for them.


Catnip is called catnip because cats like to nip it :P. Well, jokes apart, this edible herb contains an active ingredient called ‘Nepetalactone,’ this compound acts like a cat attractant.

Cat Grass

How to make a grass pot for cats

Kitten eating the grass

Cat grass is nothing but a mix of grasses– oat grass, wheat grass, rye grass, barley grass, orchard grass that cats love to gnaw on. You can grow them together in a wide container or window boxes. Learn how to grow Wheatgrass and its health benefits!

Grow mint family plants like spearmint, peppermint or any other type; it is not only safe for cats, but it also has many culinary uses, you and your feline both will love to smell this refreshing herb.


Lemongrass is an exotic culinary and medicinal herb, and it releases fresh lemon like scent when crushed. The Pussycat rambling in your house will be very much interested in biting and smelling it. I also heard people saying it also deters mosquitoes but don’t know how much true it is!

Other Herbs

Also, these fours herbs rosemary, parsley, cilantro, and thyme are good for cats. You can create an indoor herb garden using them.

Cat Thyme

Cat thyme only looks like original thyme, which is my most favorite herb. I dislike its musty odor and haven’t tried myself growing it for my cat. But it’s true that most of the cats love this plant.

Spider Plant

This amazing air cleaning houseplant is completely safe for cats. Cats love to play with its wiry foliage, it can be a great entertainment piece of greenery in your indoor cat garden.

Choose the right type of planter

How to make a grass pot for cats

A planter that is wide and has space for your kitty to let her sit would be perfect. Wide planters are right; window boxes for example! Also, use sterilized soil to keep your pet safe.

How to make a grass pot for cats

One of the easiest ways you can keep your cat healthy, is to offer them Cat Grass along with their food. I’m excited to share with you How to Grow Cat Grass without Dirt and why it’s important.

How to make a grass pot for catsWe have 2 cats, or should I say there are 2 cats that live in this house and we’re grateful that they allow us to live with them?! In complete seriousness, I love my cats (Lainey 14 and Baloney 10) even though I’m not really a cat person, I totally prefer dogs, but after all these years these 2 felines have definitely found a place in my heart.

Cats really do their own thing and as long as their human slaves keep up with food/water/litterbox cleaning they are relatively peaceful to live with. At least our very aloof girls are. Neither of our cats wants to snuggle or cuddle. Weeks can go by before I realize I haven’t even forced myself upon them by unwelcomely hugging-squeezing-loving them.

While our girls are welcome to go outside whenever they want (most often at 3:30 am) they still really enjoy having a little cat grass available to nibble on indoors.

What is Cat Grass?

Not to be confused with catnip, which is a member of the mint family, cat grass is typically grown from rye, barley, oat or wheat seeds. Nibbling on grass is a natural behavior for all cats. If you have an outdoor cat, chances are it’s part of your kitty’s daily routine.

If your pet spends all or most of its time indoors (like most domestic cats), you may want to consider growing cat grass in your home.

Cat Grass also gives your cat a healthy alternative to nibbling on houseplants and flowers, many of which are toxic to cats!

Why do Cats Eat Grass?

“Research has not yet shown why cats eat grass, but we have several ideas,” said Carlo Siracusa, animal behaviorist of University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “In the wild, cats eat grass after they have eaten their prey. In many cases, the grass causes the cat to vomit. We believe this is nature’s way of helping the cat expel the parts of their prey that are indigestible.”

Even if your indoor cat has never caught a mouse or bird, she will instinctively be attracted to cat grass. Why? “It’s a behavioral instinct,” Siracusa says. “Grass is also a form of fiber that helps cats either throw up hairballs or digest them by acting as a laxative .”

Another theory is that cats may eat grass for some trace minerals and the vitamins A and D. Grass also contains chlorophyll, which, before the discovery of antibiotics, was a remedy for pain, infection, ulcers, skin diseases and anemia . Grass also contains folic acid, which helps with the production of hemoglobin , the protein that moves oxygen into the blood to help kitty’s circulation. Plus, there’s the benefit of breath cleansing chlorophyll.

How to Easily Grow Cat Grass without Dirt!

Growing Cat Grass is super easy and don’t worry if you don’t have a bright window – it will grow in even low light situations. I’ve grown cat grass many different ways over the years for our girls and think I finally nailed the perfect way, that looks beautiful and doesn’t make a huge mess!

How to make a grass pot for cats

Here’s what you’ll need to grow your own Cat Grass:

  • Low-wide glass jar or bowl – I use a Weck 744 1/2L Tulip Jar because they are beautiful & functional!
  • Grow Stones
  • Unbleached Paper towel or coffee filter
  • Organic Wheat Grass Seeds
  • Water, preferably filtered

Fill your jar roughly 2/3 full with grow stones.

How to make a grass pot for cats

Arrange a thin layer of wheat grass seeds on top of the paper towel. You can pre-soak your seeds in water over-night to speed up the process, if desired.

How to make a grass pot for cats

Add water to fill the jar up to the paper towel, you will want to maintain this level while your grass is growing.

How to make a grass pot for cats

After a couple days your seeds will sprout and in 7-10 days it will be ready for your kitty to feast on! Be sure to keep your cat grass watered, after the roots grow down into the stones/water are it’s not necessary to keep the level as high as when your seeds were just sprouting – just be sure it doesn’t dry out!

How to make a grass pot for cats

Just look at that healthy root system! That’s some really healthy cat grass!

AND… in perfect cat-like-behavior… Lainey refused to nibble on the freshly grown grass for her photoshoot! #BadKitty

Sometimes I buy a little carton of grass at the pet store for my (indoor) cat to nibble on. She likes it but it always seems to die off within a week or two. I’d really love to have a sustainable grass colony if this is possible. What can I do to maximize the grass’s chances of surviving?

How to make a grass pot for cats

This carton only cost 99¢, but still.

4 Answers 4

I went to Tractor Supply, a farm store, I’m sure there are others, and bought a 50 Lb bag of oat seed (hull on) for about $14.00. Horses like it. I put a 3/4 cup of seeds in wet dirt in a 12″ clay or plastic pot drip tray catcher with some holes drilled in it for drainage. Cover the holes w windowscreen to minimize dirt leakage. Dirt’s about 1.5 inches deep. The cat loves it. Once sprouted, after about a week, it’ll last 2-3 weeks before becoming rootbound and drying back. There is no stopping that, you’re growing a big grass in a small space. Well watered, but not too soggy, keeps the stuff going the longest. Full sun at least part of the day helps grow thicker, juicier stems that my cat at least likes better. I keep two going at all times.

Edited upon further experience: Regular fertilization with a weak fertilizer, I use Schulz African violet fertilizer because I have it handy, keeps the stuff green longer, as does ‘mowing’ with a pair of scissors when it gets over 6-8 inches (20cm) tall.

How to make a grass pot for cats

The grasses chance of long-term survival were nixed at the moment when the seed were planted in the pot.

Compare your pot of wheat, oat or other grains 1 to a grain field: The individual plants need a lot more space to grow to their full height. The grains for cat grass are planted very close to each other (intentional overcrowding), allowing them to grow only for a short while befor the natural process of elimination leads to their death. This is intentional because a) that’s the only way to get a nice “full” pot instead of a few meager stalks and b) because the customer has to come back and buy a new pot occasionally. Without assuming “unethical” motives, the growers know that most cats prefer soft (=young) leaves over old, tough ones and usually just nibble off the ends.

If you want to grow your own grass, you can plant the grains somewhat sparser than in commercial pots (but not too sparsely) in well-draining potting soil. A rather shallow container (2-4 in / 5-10 cm) will do as the roots won’t go too deep. Let grow in a light place, possibly even outdoors until the desired lenght is reached. Do not make the pot available to your cat before the plants have grown to 2 inces at least because the roots should intertwine or your cat may pull the plants out of the pot, making a major mess. Ask me, how I know.

When the blades have been nibbeled on and the pot starts to look well-chewed, you can put it back outside and “mow the lawn”, meaning you can cut back the grass to about 1-1/2 inch and let it grow back. If you are really lucky, you may repeat this a second time.

By rotating two or three pots in various stages of growth and re-gowth it should be easy to have some available for your cat at all times.

I personally choose not to fertilize my cat grass because I don’t want my cat to eat any residue, even if it’s organic and because I know that I will be “using” the pot only for a limited time.

1 I’m explicitly talking about grain-based “cat grass” only because I have read reports of some kinds of Cyperus (also sold as cat grass) causing cuts and other injuries. Better safe than sorry, IMHO.

How to make a grass pot for cats

Just because your cat loves her chicken, beef, and tuna meals doesn’t mean she wouldn’t also love to sink her teeth into something a little more green and leafy. That’s where cat grass comes in. “I like it as a micro nutrient source for cats,” says Mark Waldrop, DVM, of the Nashville Cat Clinic. “It can add insoluble fiber, which can help with hair balls, and it’s a good environmental enrichment for cats.”

Although some people use the terms catnip and cat grass interchangeably, cat grass typically refers to a mix of oat, rye, barley, and wheat grasses, according to the Humane Society.

Keep in mind that if you will be growing cat grass indoors, it can be hard for kitties to distinguish the difference between what they can and should eat (the cat grass you’re so lovingly growing), and other plants and flowers that may be toxic to them (like these). Never keep poisonous plants or flowers in an area where your cat can easily get to and ingest them.

How to Grow Cat Grasses

If you like the idea of growing your own cat grass, fear not — you don’t necessarily need to have a green thumb to do so. “Cat grass is pretty simple to grow,” said Waldrop. “Drop the seeds in soil and add water. Keep the soil moist and in ten days or so offer it to your cat. I recommend [growing in] a low, heavy container, as they will be less likely to get knocked over.”

To start your garden off on the right foot — and to keep it thriving — the Humane Society suggests the following specific tips:

  1. Fill your heavy container about ¾ full of loose potting soil and sprinkle your seeds of choice evenly over the surface, then cover with about ¼-inch of soil.
  2. Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature and away from direct sunlight, ensuring to keep the soil moist with a spray bottle as it feels dry.
  3. When sprouts appear in a few days, remove the covering and move the pot to a sunny spot, continuing to water as the soil feels dry to the touch. They recommend offering the grass to your cat when it’s approximately 3 to 4 inches tall.
  4. As the grass wilts (typically in a few weeks), pull out the shoots and plant more seeds. To keep the rotation steady for your cat, try planting several pots a week or two apart.

Which Grasses Are Best for Cats?

While you can’t really go wrong with any of the different types of cat grass you’ll find available in pet stores, Waldrop says he prefers to see his clients grow alfalfa grass, as it’s been shown to help with preventing and treating kidney disease in cats.

Oat is also a great choice, he said, because it acts as a digestive aid to calm the intestinal tract, is high in protein and soluble fiber, and contains levels of iron, manganese, zinc, and B vitamins. (Learn more about the power of oats here.)

For specific questions about your pet’s diet, always consult with your veterinarian.

What to Watch Out For

Cat grasses grown inside are an easy and safe way to provide your cat with healthy treats that you can monitor, but be aware that over time these types of plants can develop mold, said Waldrop, especially if they’re overwatered. “I recommend starting a new batch from scratch if this occurs,” he said.

In terms of quantity, most cats will just nibble at the tops of the grass, says Waldrop, so if you keep it watered the plant should continue to come back and last for a while.

An additional concern Waldrop mentioned is that if your cat appears to be devouring your cat grass at every opportunity, or you notice that your garden is vanishing after only a week or two of being made available to your kitty, you may want to consult your vet to determine if additional changes need to be made to your cat’s diet.

There are several ways to deal with this without causing any harm

Cats are very territorial

The following are very dangerous to use

As a last resort.


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BeWell > Wellness > How Can I Keep My Cat From Digging In My Houseplants?

How Can I Keep My Cat From Digging In My Houseplants?

How can I stop my cat from digging in my houseplants?

Great question. It’s frustrating when our wonderful cats claim a favorite houseplant as their own.

Digging is natural behavior for cats. Outdoors, they like digging in the soft, cool soil. We just don’t want our cats to dig up indoor plants.

First, if you have houseplants around your cats catnip , which is sold in pet stores. When two of my wonderful kitties were four-month-old kittens, I planted a large area of kitty grass for them. The kitty grass was so inviting that they wanted to snooze on top of it, instead of digging in it or eating it. Either is perfectly fine for a cat to do. I have now planted the kitty grass in smaller pots so the cats can get a good dig in.

It is also easier to try to cat-proof your plants rather than to enforce a “paws-off” approach. Younger, playful cats seem to get into trouble a bit more than our older kitties, so move your houseplants out of harm’s way, perhaps on a high narrow shelf. Try placing objects around the plants to block access. Put smooth stones or pieces of crumpled aluminum foil on top of the soil to discourage digging. You might also place fresh orange peels on the soil — the citrus scent can act as a repellent. Make sure you change the orange peels regularly. Pet stores also sell repellents, but please double check that they are safe for both cats and plants. As I often say, patience and a little determination can solve nearly any cat co-habitation issue. As always, I welcome your stories and comments.

How to make a grass pot for catsCats toileting = ‘doing their business’, ‘leaving their calling card’, ‘digging up the plot and toileting’, ‘using the garden as a toilet’, ‘doing a poo in my raised beds’, ‘Cats defecating on the plot’ are the (repeatable) subjects of emails I’ve had over the years.

It’s a topic that comes up on the forums occasionally as well and invariably results in the topic being locked as frustrated gardeners sick of the problem advocate actions that are both cruel and illegal.

Why Cats Toilet in the Garden

First of all, let’s look at why it happens. Cats naturally prefer to defecate in soft soil that they can dig in. They dig a hole, do the deed and then bury it. The reason for this is that it helps stop predators from tracking them by hiding the smell. Often they’ll toilet a distance from home, in next door’s garden for example, which is part of the predator evasion behaviour.

The exception to this is the cat communicating his or her dominance or rights to be there to other cats by leaving his faeces on the surface.

“I’m the fearless owner of this land, smell my poo and tremble ye mortals!”

Just to make the problem worse, cats remember where they went last and often return when they need to go next time.

Health Risks of Cat Faeces – Parasite Toxoplasma Gondii

It’s worth looking at the actual health risks of cat poo in the soil. Yes, it’s disgusting and smelly like all meat-eating animal excrement. Most gardeners are happy to add various manures; horse, cow, goat, sheep etc. to their garden but pig, who is an omnivore like ourselves, isn’t so nice and cat and dog are definitely not on the invite list.

Firstly you should remember that all excrement, even that from herbivores, presents a health risk. E-coli and tetanus for starters. With cat excrement the disease of most concern is a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii.

The infection is usually nothing to worry about as the body’s immune system is strong enough to fight it off. From the NHS web site: Toxoplasmosis

“Around 350 cases are reported in England and Wales each year, but it’s thought the actual number of infections could be as high as 350,000.

Estimates suggest up to a third of people in the UK will be infected by toxoplasmosis at some point in their life, but most people won’t notice it.”

It does present a threat to pregnant women as it can cause miscarriage and stillbirths along with harming people with a weak immune system.

Interestingly, toxoplasmosis infection in rats causes them to lose their fear of cats and slows their reaction times. So the cat eats the rat, gets the disease and spreads it via their droppings which infects more rats.

It has been suggested that the disease could reduce our fear and caution generally – making us take risks we would not otherwise take. Czech evolutionary biologist Jaraslov Flegr has discovered that a person infected with Toxoplasmosis Gondii is twice as likely to be in a car accident—which Flegr attributes to the parasite’s tendency to reduce reaction time.

How to Stop Cats Toileting in Your Vegetable Bed

Sacrificial Bed – Replacement Cat’s Toilet

This doesn’t always work – especially if a number of cats are squabbling over territory and leaving smelly messages for each other but it’s something I have used with some success.

Ultrasonic Cat Scarers

These are pretty effective but quite expensive and have been known to vanish from allotment plots. I had a scarer owner complain that it was useless, this big white cat kept coming to his plot and toileting. The thing is a lot of white cats are deaf!

Scent Cat Deterrents

Special granules, lion dung and orange peelings are said to deter cats but in my experience none of them do much good.

Netting and Stringing

Netting them out works well and strings over the bed can work but stringing is, I think , more effort than netting.

Bottles of Water to Scare Cats Away

Clear 2 litre pop bottles half full of water can work. The cat sees a distorted view of themselves and decides to move on rather than risk conflict. A dominant cat will soon learn it’s no threat though.

Water Squirting to Deter Cats

You can get an automatic squirter that detects the cat and releases a squirt of water. Effective but only really practical in a garden where you can get a hosepipe to the squirter.

A powerful water pistol will do the same job but even the densest of cats will soon work out that they’re at no risk when nobody is around.

Conclusion – Stopping Cats Defecating in the Garden

Basically there are different things you can do but there is not one simple, certain answer. Try different things and hopefully something will work.

I totally understand the annoyance this problem causes but please remember the following.

The cat’s owner is not responsible, British law understands that, unlike dogs, cats are not a controllable pet and out of the house will do what they want to. There’s little point having a row because there is nothing the owner can do, assuming they’re a pet and not a feral cat.

Tempting as it may be to throw rocks, shoot, trap or poison a cat, cruelty to animals is a serious criminal act. Don’t forget the owner may be the only friend to some little old lady – is your annoyance worth devastating her life? You could also be sued for any vets bills caused by your actions.

And please don’t forget the goods cat do in controlling rodents and sadly birds which isn’t so good. The rodent catching was so important in protecting grain stores from rodents that the ancient Egyptians imposed the death penalty for stealing or harming a cat and later deified them. There was a time in Europe when cats were associated with the devil and persecuted. This left the rats without a major predator until the black death came along on the back of the rat fleas.