Thinking of starting your next indoor garden, but you also wonder about the safety of your pet cat? As you probably already know, cats are very curious animals, they will explore every single corner and inch of your house. You never know when they’ll get into mischief, so it’s important to plan ahead when you set up your shared living space.
Many cats love to nibble on plants. Plants are more than just another object that your cat wants to rub their face on, as vegetation and grass have been known to help with internal kitty cleansing. In reality, however, many houseplants are toxic to cats and can cause great harm to them. Doing research ahead of time will help you decide what kind of plant(s) would be safe for your cat. If you choose safe plants to start with, your cat won’t get sick if they happen to nibble on your plant when you’re not looking.
To help you in your search, I have compiled a list of which plants are safe for your cat. Luckily, there are plenty of options that will make your home look beautiful and keep your kitty safe.
- 1) Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
- 2) Rattlesnake Plants (Calathea lancifolia)
- 3) Parlor Palms (Chamaedorea elegans)
- 4) Ponytail Palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)
- 5) Succulents
- 6) Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
- 7) Orchids (Orchidaceae)
- 8) Ferns (Polypodiopsida)
- 9) Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
- 10) Lilacs (Syringa)
- 11) Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
- 12) African Violet (Saintpaulia)
- How to Protect Your Plants from Your Cats
1) Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are great for growing indoors and they can even act as an air-purifying plant. The best thing of course is that spider plants are safe for cats. So not only will you have clean air, but you will also have a healthy cat. All the more joy added to your home!
2) Rattlesnake Plants (Calathea lancifolia)
Don’t let the name fool you into thinking this plant is as deadly as a rattlesnake. On the contrary, it is safe for you and your cat. The rattlesnake plant has distinctly shaped leaves that resemble the rattle on a rattlesnake. This plant does well indoors because they are capable of surviving even in rooms with very little light. The plants are native to rainforests in Brazil.
The leaves of rattlesnake plants are also colorful with red and purple tones on the underside. The markings give the leaves a distinct look, resembling the reptilian look of a snake. They are flashy and attractive plants that will add a pop of color to your interior design. In nature, the plant will also grow very beautiful flowers. As an indoor plant, however, you shouldn’t expect it to bloom flowers very often (if at all).
3) Parlor Palms (Chamaedorea elegans)
There are a few kinds of different palms that are completely safe for your pets. They are also easy to take care of.
Parlor Palms only need a few hours of direct light a day and they are well suited to indoor life. This palm only requires watering about once every 1-2 weeks because the soil needs time to dry out between waterings. Palms usually do well in desert climates and conditions, so they do not need as much water as one would think.
This palm is also capable of growing to be 6ft tall if you constantly refit the potting. However, you may want to avoid doing this too often as this can cause your palm’s roots to be disturbed. With the plant growing tall or wide to fill space, this can create a nice hiding spot for your cat. Many cats like the shade of plants and they like to be hidden. Because of this, your parlor palm and cat can become instant friends.
4) Ponytail Palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Ponytail palms are another non-toxic plant for your cat. Just like the parlor palm, the ponytail would make a great addition to your home while being safe for cats to interact with. However, this plant grows long leaves that often hang down to the floor when they get large enough. This means your ponytail palm would be a huge source of temptation to your cat. Cats are very curious, so the leaves of a ponytail palm are likely to be attacked by your cat. So while this setup is safe for cats, it might not be safe for ponytail palms!
Most succulents are harmless to cats. They are not likely to try to eat them since these little plants are really not that appetizing. It is very rare that your cat will try to eat these plants, but they may bat them with their paws or knock them off of shelves if they are not secured. To prevent this, you can place your succulent on a shelf or some other place where your cat cannot reach it.
Some of the most cat-friendly succulents are Echeveria, Hardy Sedum, Haworthia, Sempervivum, and Tender Sedum. However, there are also a few that would not be good for your cat. Some of these include Aloe Vera which has a yellow toxic liquid found in the leaves. This can cause digestive problems in your cat including diarrhea, vomiting, and red urine.
Jade plants are also known to be dangerous to your cat if they are consumed. Some of these illnesses the Jade toxins can produce are lethargy, vomiting, and irritation.
When it comes to pairing succulents with cats and other pets, it may be best to put your succulents somewhere the cat does not usually go. If your cat is curious, find ways to direct its attention away from your succulent plants. Make sure you can keep your cat away from any non-cat-friendly succulents before buying one.
6) Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)
Straight out of a science fiction film, the Venus Flytraps have come to devour everything in their path. Well, no, not really, but they sure look threatening. The opposite is actually the truth here as these plants are not dangerous at all to cats. They will also keep your house free of any unwanted flies and gnats.
The fact that this plant can feed itself makes it low maintenance, only needing a few insect meals a month to sustain itself. The plant is also native to humid conditions, which makes sense because it can be found in the swamplands of the Carolinas. Therefore, it might do well if there is humid weather outside. It may be a nice addition to your balcony or at least to your bathroom.
7) Orchids (Orchidaceae)
Most orchids are considered to be safe for cats. None of them are what would be considered toxic to your cat in the sense that they could cause serious harm. The worst most orchids will do to your kitty is cause a very bad tummy ache.
Orchids are very beautiful flowers, so to say they are cat-friendly may be true for the cat. However, what to do in the event that the cat is just curious and attracted to the colorful flowers of the orchid is another question. Training the cat perhaps not to touch the flowers is the only way to make sure that neither the cat nor the plant is in danger from one another.
8) Ferns (Polypodiopsida)
As you may have heard, many ferns are not safe for cats. There are a few however that are perfectly kitty compatible.
One example is the Boston Fern. Boston ferns grow into vibrant shapes that create great additions to your home. They fit in nicely with your living room, providing a great pop of color and freshness. They are not known to be toxic to cats. Also, they make a nice hanging plant, therefore you can hang them out of reach from your cat and not have to worry about them getting into the fern.
Bird nest ferns are another good non-toxic option. Bird nest ferns grow in extremely low light and also need humidity.
9) Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
Cats love flowers because they are attracted to both the smell and texture. According to greatpetcare.com cats have about “14-20 times the smell receptors that people do.” With this being the case, it’s no wonder cats are so drawn to flowers. What they can smell in a very pleasant and beautiful flower is way beyond what humans are capable of smelling.
Sunflowers are bright and cheerful looking, and sometimes this is something your cat cannot resist. The best thing is that they are non-toxic to cats. So if you have a sunflower near your cat (whether it’s inside or in the backyard), you do not have to worry if your cat takes a chomp out of it.
10) Lilacs (Syringa)
These beautiful blooms are another flower that is non-toxic to cats. Lilacs produce beautiful puffy-like flower balls that mainly bloom in the springtime. Keeping lilacs in the house around cats is a safe bet as the flowers produce a bitter taste which will ultimately deter cats away from eating them.
If the cat does ingest lilac flowers, it will not be overly harmful to them although they may experience diarrhea or vomiting if they eat a good amount. The bitter taste is a good deterrent though, so you don’t really need to worry about your pets eating these in the first place. Therefore, breathe a sigh of relief, knowing you can still keep these beauties in your house.
11) Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Prayer plants are great indoor plants and are completely harmless to cats. They only require a low amount of light to sustain themselves. Again, just like many other plants on this list, the prayer plant is elegant and beautiful. The design on the leaves is highlighted with stripes and dark shaded pockets between each line. The prayer plant would make a nice addition to any home. However, keep in mind because of its colors and elegance, your cat may be curious about it.
12) African Violet (Saintpaulia)
African violet plants produce beautiful purple flowers that will liven up your home. These are also non-toxic to cats and will not cause really any problem to your cat if ingested. In fact, since the plant produces beautiful purple flowers, your cat may be attracted to this plant and is likely to devour it. The question now should be, which is safer: Your cat or the African Violet?
How to Protect Your Plants from Your Cats
So as you know by now, cats like to eat houseplants. They love the smells and the way house plants feel when they rub their faces against them.
Cats are also naturally curious, they like to get into everything. They love to explore and plants happen to be irresistible objects to their senses. Overall, given the nature of cats, could you blame them for being so attracted and curious to your new houseplants, especially if you are bringing some new beautiful flowers into the house?
So now that you know which plants will be safe from your cat, it is now time to make sure your plants are safe from your cat. Some tips for protecting your plants are to keep your plants in places where the cat will have trouble getting to them. If placed on a high shelf, consider putting other small objects around the plant such as small stones. This will discourage the kitty from trying to jump up to the surface where the plant is.
If you are looking to train the kitty, try spraying him/her with small amounts of water every time they attempt to go after your plant. This will train your cat not to do that. Finally, try using catnip plus cat toys to distract your cat from going into your plants. You can mark areas with catnip so that the cat will go there instead of the plants.
Remember, a cat’s attraction to plants is mostly driven by their desire to explore and indulge their keen sense of smell. Providing for this need may decrease the need for your cat to go after your plants.
Another option is to have hanging plants that hang from the ceiling. This way they will be completely out of reach from cats. You want to make sure your ceiling plant however is both far enough from the ground and away from any adjacent shelving because the cat will do anything to get to it if it is interested enough.
In the event your cat is ever sick, whether the cause has come from ingesting a plant or other substance, you can always try taking him/her to your local veterinarian. Some online resources are also a safe choice, as you can ask questions to real veterinarians. One of these sites is askaveterinarianonline.com. Here, you can ask an actual veterinarian any questions you have about your cat potentially being poisoned or sick.
Other resources you can go are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).
Here is a video that contains simple tips on how to treat your cat if it has been poisoned.