I've been a cat owner for most of my life and have learned many tips and tricks for keeping cats happy and healthy.
Plants Range From Harmless to Deadly for Cats
Although cats are carnivores, many just can’t resist nibbling on houseplants from time to time. As a cat owner, making sure the plants and flowers in your home are cat-friendly can give you peace of mind.
While some plants are non-toxic and harmless, others can cause symptoms like stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and even kidney failure if a cat consumes a small amount. For example, plants that are members of the lily family are known to be especially toxic and can be deadly for cats if prompt treatment isn’t received.
Since it’s impossible to watch your cats all day and night, it’s important to ensure every plant, flower and even bouquets of fresh-cut flowers in your home are cat-friendly.
In this article, I have included five easy ways to enjoy the beauty of indoor plants and flowers while keeping your feline friend safe.
5 Ways to Keep Both Cats and Houseplants
- Visit the ASPCA's Website
- Do a Quick Search Online
- Avoid and Get Rid of Potentially Toxic Plants
- Keep the Plants in Hard-to-Reach Places
- Buy or Grow Cat Grass
By following this guide, you will be able to enjoy your pet's company and a wonderful assortment of indoor plants for many years to come!
1. Visit the ASPCA's Website
Review the ASPCA's List of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants and Flowers to find out which plants and flowers are cat-safe or cat-toxic. You might want to print out or bookmark this page on your phone for referencing while you're out shopping for plants.
2. Do a Quick Search Online
If any of the plants or flowers in your home (or that you’re thinking of buying) aren’t on that list, do an Internet search of the plant name. Ex: “Are miniature roses safe for cats?” (They are, by the way.) Be sure to check a few reliable websites for accurate information. Remember, even some wildflowers, such as tiger lilies and daisies, can be toxic.
3. Avoid and Get Rid of Potentially Toxic Plants
Avoid buying plants considered toxic to cats. If you already have them, either keep them in a room your cat can’t get into or get rid of them. If it’s a plant in the lily family or any others known to be highly toxic and dangerous, it’s best not to have those in the house at all, just to be safe.
4. Keep the Plants in Hard-to-Reach Places
To discourage cats from chewing on your plants (even if they’re non-toxic), keep them in locations or rooms your cat can’t access.
5. Buy or Grow Cat Grass
Cat grass provides a safe source of greens for your cat. You can buy seeds or pre-grown containers of grass at many pet stores and online. I use these organic cat grass seeds to grow my own. The grass grows quickly and helps keep my cats' attention away from my houseplants.
Safe Plants and Flowers
Here are a few cat-safe plants and flowers:
- African Violet
- Boston Fern
- Christmas Cactus
- Venus Fly Trap
Toxic Plants and Flowers
Here are a few common plants and flowers you'll want to avoid if you have cats in your home:
- Baby’s Breath
- Calla Lily
- Easter Lily
- Tiger Lily
ASPCA Animal Poison Control: Lists of Safe and Unsafe Plants for Pets
- Animal Poison Control | ASPCA
Our handy list contains plants that have been reported as having systemic effects on animals and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract.
What to Do If You Think Your Cat Ate a Poisonous Plant or Flower
If you think your cat ate one of your plants—whether you see bite marks on the leaves of your plant or find vomit that contains pieces of leaves or flower petals, try to identify which plant your cat ate.
Check online immediately to see if it’s a toxic plant. It's also a good idea to contact your vet, an emergency animal clinic, or the ASPCA’s 24-Hour Pet Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.
© 2013 carolynkaye
carolynkaye (author) from USA on March 31, 2019:
Hello Peg, I wouldn't let a cat on a balcony. Some cats do like to jump. He might not know how high it is. He also could try to jump onto the rail, or fall trying to chase a bird.
Peg Shea on March 30, 2019:
We live in a home now, but are moving to an apartment on the 4th floor. It has a balcony. My one cat loves going outside. Will he know not to jump? Will he realize it's too high?
carolynkaye (author) from USA on May 11, 2016:
You're welcome, Nancy. That's great you're careful about flowers. It sounds like your cat would love cat grass. Thank for your comments :)
Nancy Dixon - Canada on May 10, 2016:
Thank-you for such great information. I have a 14 year old cat going on 4 months. !! He is very interested in plants and always has been. I don't have any plants in my house and sadly, when I receive flowers I watch them like a hawk and hope the will fade fast so I can get rid of them.
carolynkaye (author) from USA on September 02, 2014:
Thank you, VladimirCat :)
Vladimir from Australia on August 28, 2014:
Some plants are just plain deadly to cats. Glad you have a list of them here
carolynkaye (author) from USA on April 16, 2013:
Thanks, FlourishAnyway :)
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 16, 2013:
Important information with great photos. You have some lovely, curious felines there who love their cat grass.
TOP 10 PLANTS FOR CATS — PLANT A CAT FRIENDLY GARDEN FOR YOUR MOGGIE
We all know cats love Catnip, but what other plants and herbs give them a sensory blast in the garden? Here’s my top ten plants you can grow at home to create a kitty paradise that can be enjoyed both you and your beloved moggie.
Not only is Lemongrass a beautiful looking tropica l herb grass that’s great for cooking with, adding flavour to Asian, Thai and fusion recipes, it smells uh-mayzing! It’s sweet, lemony scent can be enjoyed by humans and felines alike and is great for your cat to have a nibble on. Also, did you know it is great for relief of stomach disorders, insomnia, respiratory disorders, fever, aches, infections, rheumatism and edema.
#2 — VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae) :
You may have seen Valerian in human holistic medicines before, and the same anti-anxiety producing buzz it gives us also chills out our kitties. This is great for nervous or stressed cats and from first hand experience works like a charm. My crazy little ball of fluff, Shimmy, has always been a nervous-nelly and since he regularly gets his Valerian fix in the porch is a much happier cat. It’s also great for overweight cats who need to lose a lil paunch.
#3 — CHAMOMILE (Matricaria recutita) :
Another calming plant, widely used in teas and the like, that is also great for your cat. These pretty daisy like plants have been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years to calm anxiety and settle stomachs. When you combine them with some Calendula and Echinacea you can also help alleviate some skin issues such as itching. #4 — CAT MINT (Nepeta × faassenii) :
Photo by snowmanradio I love this one! It’s so easy to grow and with it’s attractive aromatic foliage and masses of blue or purple flowers, as groundcover it’s perfect in pots, as border edging, or in rockeries. It is drought resistant, attracts bees and butterflies, and will send your kitty into a euphoric state. Beware though, it’s so good, it will bring all the cats to the yard so if you live in a highly populated feline area, try popping it in a hanging basket near your cats favourite perch.
#5 LICORICE ROOT (Glycyrrhiza glabra) :
Another very pretty plant for your garden that has surprising health benefits for your moggie. Knawing on this helps aid digestion, allergies and is especially good for cats with arthritis due to it’s blood cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. The same benefits can be gleaned for humans too so be sure to look up some of the great recipes to try using Licorice root yourself.
#6 — PEPPERMINT (Mentha × piperita) :
Cats are drawn to the Mint family in general, but Peppermint is great for your garden not only for the epic smell and making yourself some home-brewed Peppermint tea, but it also keeps away mice. This is particularly useful if your kitty likes to bring you mouse-shaped presents on a regular basis. Peppermint is is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint and is great for digestion so a nibble here and there will keep feline tums happy.
This gorgeous yellow flowered rain forest herb has been long used to treat asthma, ulcers, and cancer but is also great for itchy cats and those with allergies as it contains natural cortisone. You can also reduce it into a tea for yourself! Bonus!
#8 — GOLDENSEAL (Hydrastis canadensis) :
Now how pretty is this flowering Goldenseal? But it’s not just a pretty face, this one is an essential for all cat owners. Goldenseal is a naturally occuring disinfectant and when used in conjunction with salty water can shrink swollen eyes due to infections and allergies. Great for all the family! #9 — CAT GRASS (Dactylis glomerata) :
Does this look familiar?! Haha… No cat garden paradise would be complete without a patch of Cat Grass. You can buy this in pet stores but why not grow your own? Easy to grow and a feline favourite, it’s great for digestion and prevents hairballs getting stuck in their little tums. It’s also great for dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits too.
Of course, number 10 is Cat Nip. If I didn’t include this, my pack would disown me. Cat nip is the one we all think of when we look for a plant to stimulate our cat. Did you know however, how it works? The nepetalactone oil contained inside the plant binds to the olfactory receptors of cats, giving them that temporary europhic high. Respeonse to catnip is hereditory and 70 to 80% of adult cats go crazy for it. This is a great plant for humans too, not only because it comes in so many pretty colours (lavendar, bue, pink, white, lilac, spotty), but also we can use it oo. It’s great for ailments such as migraes, crams, gas, indigestion, insomnia, anxiety and reducing swelling from arthritis.
So there we are…10 awesome plants you can grow yourself at home to create your very own cat garden paradise. Which plants do your kitties prefer? Share your pics and stories below or on social media.
INDOOR PLANTS SAFE FOR CATS & DOGS
Houseplants are not only uplifting during winter months, they help purify the air indoors as well. Studies show that having plants in our home enhances our mood as well as the decor. Here are some houseplants you won’t have to worry about when it comes to your pets.
Chlorophytum comosum 'Variegatum'. Photo by: Karl Gercens / Millette Photomedia
Grown for its variegated spiky foliage and endearing baby plantlets, spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) has long been a standby of houseplant lovers. Also known as airplane plant and ribbon plant, this tropical African native is forgiving of neglect and poor conditions, making it a good choice for novice gardeners. The grass-like leaves are particularly appealing to pets who like to chew, but all parts of the plant are safe.
The attractive fleshy leaves of radiator plant (Peperomia) come in a myriad of shapes and patterns, making this a versatile design choice as living decor, from small tabletop accents to hanging planters. All species are non-toxic to cats and dogs. Because they grow as epiphytes (without soil) in their native rain forest habitat, radiator plants have small root systems, so they prefer smaller pots with well-draining soil. These tropicals, which go by a host of other common names depending on the species, prefer bright indirect sunlight and humid conditions, though they are drought-tolerant as well.
Photo by: RainerBerns / Pixabay
One of the most familiar orchids grown as a houseplant is moth orchid (Phalaenopsis). Popular for its long-blooming flowers and ease of care, there’s a wide range of flower shapes, colors, and patterns to match any decor. While this common orchid is safe for pets, the bark-based potting medium that it’s grown in can cause discomfort if ingested. Plants may also carry fertilizer or pesticide residue that can present a danger. If your pet is especially inquisitive and prone to chewing, it’s best to keep these orchids out of reach, such as on a high shelf or in a room that’s off-limits.
Photo by: Judy Drietz / Shutterstock
Grown for the vividly patterned leaves that fold upwards at night (hence the name). Most prayer plants come from the Maranta genus, and others (also called peacock plants) come from the Calathea genus. Both are great choices for rooms with low light and are safe for pets, so you can be confident in placing them anywhere in the house. Since plants remain compact (around 8 to 10 inches tall and wide), they are ideal for small spaces such as bookshelves or end tables.
Areca palm. Photo by: dropStock / Shutterstock
Some of the best plants for sheer elegance and an exotic look, many outdoor palms can also be grown as houseplants. While some varieties such as sago palm are toxic to pets, many others are safe. Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) and ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) are just a few that won’t harm pets if any part of the plants is ingested. Since safeness depends on the type of palm, make sure to research thoroughly before buying.
Photo by: gerarddm / Shutterstock
Some ferns have toxic properties, but others such as Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) are perfectly safe for pets. While the lush fronds are pretty to look at, they are also appealing to dogs and cats who like to chew. Fortunately, no parts of the plant are harmful. These attractive ferns look great in a hanging basket, so set up a vintage macramé hanger out of reach of curious pets and place in a corner of a den or living room where you’ll most enjoy it. Since Boston ferns like humidity and bright, indirect light, bathrooms are also a great spot for them.
Variegated Swedish ivy. Photo by: Iva Villi / Shutterstock
The round scalloped leaves and trailing habit of Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus) make this a perfect choice for hanging planters. Also known as Swedish begonia, creeping Charlie or whorled plectranthus, this vining plant—which is not from Sweden, nor is it a true ivy—is actually a coleus relative native to tropical regions of Africa, South America, and Australia. While some ivy varieties are toxic to pets, Swedish ivy is safe for cats and dogs. This easy-care plant prefers a well-draining potting medium and indirect lights and roots easily from cuttings.
Photo by: Garden World Images / Alamy Stock Photo
For those with busy lifestyles, cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is virtually indestructible, hence the common name. The glossy leaves and upright habit make this a good choice as a floor plant in a hallway or living room. Though some pets may find the leaves attractive to chew on, all parts of the plant are safe. Cast iron plant can withstand low light, irregular water, and temperature changes, making it a great choice for novice gardeners.
Photo by: Zabavna / Shutterstock
One of the most popular flowering houseplants, African violet (Saintpaulia) does well in low light found in typical homes. Perfectly safe for pets, these tropical gems are a little more challenging to grow, preferring rich soil and regular fertilizing to achieve optimal flowering. Since the air in homes is particularly dry during winter, place plants on a saucer filled with pebbles and water to increase air humidity.
Photo by: Pisarenko Olga / Shutterstock
One of the most popular holiday gifts, Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii) is grown for its brightly colored blooms that usually occur around Thanksgiving and Christmas. This decorative plant does best with bright indirect light and regular water, and is easy to root from cuttings. Because the leaves are fibrous, they can cause mild stomach irritation if ingested by cats and dogs, which can lead to vomiting or diarrhea. However, the effects are temporary, and the plant does not contain toxic properties that would further harm your pet.
Photo by: Barbara Dudzinska / Shutterstock
The horizontally-striped foliage gives zebra plant (Haworthia attenuata) its unique appeal. This diminutive succulent is slow-growing and does best in bright light, making it perfect for adorning a window sill or tabletop where a splash of color is needed. In winter, don’t overwater, and keep plants away from cold drafts. Like other haworthias, this distinct-looking plant is safe for pets.
Photo by: panattar / Shutterstock
If you’re lucky enough to have a bright spot in your house, Echeveria, with their fleshy rosettes and bold structure, are a great choice for adding a dramatic splash of living color. They require little water and are low maintenance, perfect for those with busy lifestyles. Not to be confused with similar looking plants called houseleeks (Sempervivum), that should be grown outdoors and are also safe for pets.
Of course, houseplants do more than just look pretty they have functional purposes, too. The benefits they offer should make everyone вЂ“ especially pet owners and parents вЂ“ see them as necessity rather than simply objects of dГ©cor.
The main perks of having houseplants in homes with pets include:
- More oxygen, which makes both human and animal bodily functions work better in addition to naturally purifying the air
- Increased humidity levels, meaning softer skin, less dandruff on any furry family members, and clean, healthy airways for you as well as your pets
- Helping improve attentiveness and focus, which lets you devote more time to coming up with fun activities for your dog or cat
- Able to reflect background noise, creating a more tranquil environment for your animal companions
As such, itвЂ™s especially important to know which houseplants are safe for cats and dogs, so you can enjoy all they have to offer without worrying about your curious pets getting sick.
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