What Plants Are Safe for Cats?

Key takeaway

Choosing plants that are safe for cats is a good way to keep them from ingesting toxic plants. Safe plants for cats include spider plants, orchids, cat grass, air plants, and more. Plants that are toxic to cats include daffodils, lilies, and tulips. If your cat ingests a poisonous plant, remove it from their mouth if you can do so safely and take them to the vet.

Many plants that are safe for humans can be dangerous for cats. If you love filling your home and yard with beautiful flora, you need to make sure you’re not keeping any dangerous plants around. Some plants may make your cat minorly sick, while others can cause damage to organs and other serious long-term medical conditions.

The good news is that you can avoid this by filling your home with plants safe for cats. As long as you choose the right plants, you don’t have to worry about the toxicity of plants or whether they cause cat skin allergies. Plus, you can still fill your home with beautiful plants in varying colors while keeping your cat safe. If you need help finding houseplants safe for cats, here are some plants that are safe for cats and some you should specifically avoid.

12 Houseplants Safe for Cats

Choosing plants safe for cats is a good way to reduce the risk of your cat eating something that makes them sick. If your cat is sneezing as a result of their environment, that could be a result of the plants you keep around. While having a cat means you might not be able to keep some of your favorite plants, you still have lots of options. Here are 12 plants that are safe for cats to live with.

Plants that are safe for cats

1. Spider Plant

The spider plant, also known as chlorophytum comosum, is one of the easiest plants to grow inside your home. This houseplant can adapt to a wide range of circumstances without suffering any real effects. You might notice the tips of the long, spider-like leaves beginning to turn brown, but that’s not typically a big issue. While spider plants are typically green, there are different types of spider plants that can add some color to your home.

2. Orchid

Orchids have become one of the most popular houseplants in recent years, with websites and forums dedicated to orchid care and identifying different types of orchids. If you want to add a splash of color to your home while avoiding cat dermatitis and poisoning from houseplants, orchids can be a great choice. You can even take clippings from your orchids to plant new orchids and grow your collection.

3. Cat Grass

If your cat has a tendency to chew on the plants around your home, you might want to plant cat grass. Cat grass is actually a mix of a few different types of grass that’s grown specifically for cats. You can find cat grass kits that make it even easier to grow cat grass at home.

4. Air Plants

Air plants are plants that attach to other plants to grow in nature. At home, you can grow these air plants in special containers that don’t require any soil. Air plants can be enclosed in containers and kept somewhere safe, but you need to make sure you water them regularly as that’s how they absorb nutrients.

5. Ponytail Palm

Despite their looks, ponytail palms aren’t palms or trees. These plants are actually a type of succulent, but they have the appearance of a miniature tree. If you want to make your home feel a little more island-like without putting your cats in danger, ponytail palms are a good place to start.

6. Rattlesnake Plant

The rattlesnake plant may be named after a venomous snake, but these plants aren’t actually toxic to your pets. Rattlesnake plants have large green leaves with a unique pattern, which makes them a beautiful addition to your home. If your cat’s eyes are watering or you notice other symptoms of cat allergies, consider swapping potentially dangerous plants out for a rattlesnake plant.

7. Boston Fern

If you want to add even more rich, green colors to your home, you can use a Boston fern or two to give your home a more natural feel. Boston fern is perfectly safe for your cats to be around, and it looks great if you take care of it. The only downside is that Boston fern can be difficult to care for since it can’t get too much sunlight.

8. Money Tree

Money trees are another great way to add a sort of jungle look to your home without putting your cat at risk. While money trees don’t need to be watered often, they do need a lot of water. Best of all, money trees aren’t toxic to cats, so your cat can explore them freely.

9. Polka Dot Plant

Some people prefer bright colors when it comes to houseplants, and that’s exactly what you get with the polka dot plant. Polka dot plants come in varying colors, including different shades of red, green, and blue. Your cat can even safely chew on the leaves of the polka dot plant.

10. Bromeliad

Bromeliad plants make beautiful flowers and are safe for cats, making them one of the best houseplant options for pet parents. Caring for bromeliads can be a bit difficult, but it shouldn’t take long to get the hang of it.

11. Parlor Palm

Unlike the ponytail palm, the parlor palm is actually a species of palm tree. Parlor palms are much smaller than the palm trees most are accustomed to, which makes them a great living room or entryway houseplant if you’ve got cats.

12. Herbs

Most herbs are safe for cats and dogs, so you can grow your fresh herb garden without worrying. Keep in mind that spring parsley can be toxic to animals, so it’s best to stick to curly parsley.  

What Plants Are Poisonous to Cats?

Knowing which plants are poisonous is just as important as knowing which you can safely keep around the house. Different plants contain different chemical compounds, and some of those compounds are toxic to cats. If your cat eats something poisonous, calling a vet is an important first step. Here are some of the most common toxic plants for cats.

Toxic plants for cats

1. Daffodils

Daffodils make a bright and colorful addition to your garden, but they’re not a safe plant for cats to be around. Daffodil flowers contain an alkaloid called lycorine, which can cause vomiting in cats. Whether your cat eats a daffodil bulb, plant, or flower, this lycorine can lead to symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. If your cat ingests daffodil, call your vet immediately and monitor any symptoms your pet has.1

2. Lilies

Certain types of lilies are toxic and can even be life-threatening if ingested by cats. Even ingesting a small amount of lily petals or drinking the water from the vase can lead to serious medical problems in cats. Lilies can cause acute kidney failure in cats which can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly, so taking your cat to the vet is important. Here are some of the types of lilies that are toxic to cats:2

  • Asiatic lilies
  • Easter lilies
  • Japanese Show lilies
  • Rubrum lilies
  • Stargazer lilies
  • Red lilies
  • Tiger lilies
  • Western lilies
  • Wood lilies

3.Tulips

Tulips are another gorgeous flower that can cause problems if you’ve got cats around. Various parts of tulip plants contain alkaloids that are toxic to cats. If your cat only ingests a little bit of a tulip plant or bulb, they may experience irritation of the mouth, excessive drooling, and other minor symptoms. In severe cases, symptoms may include difficulty breathing and an elevated heart rate.3

Hyacinths belong to the same family as tulips and contain the same toxic alkaloids.

4. Azalea

For some odd reason, cats seem to enjoy nibbling on flowers like azaleas. While azaleas aren’t the most toxic plant for cats to ingest, they can still cause symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. In most cases, azaleas aren’t fatal to cats if you get to the vet quickly.4

5. English Ivy

The saponins and polyacetylene contained in English ivy make it toxic to cats, so be careful about the types of ivy you’ve got around your house and yard. Ingesting English ivy can lead to excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are a handful of types of ivy that may be poisonous to animals.5

How to Keep Your Cat Safe Around Plants

Cat lying in a bed of flowers

Recognizing the symptoms of poisoning is an important step in keeping your cat safe around plants. Common symptoms include excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea, so a cat with itchy ears may be dealing with another problem. Aside from recognizing the symptoms and choosing plants safe for cats, here are some other tips to keep your cat safe around plants:

  • Use hanging planters to keep plants elevated and away from cats
  • Keep plants in areas where your cats don’t spend a lot of time
  • Call your vet immediately if your cat eats, chews, or licks a poisonous plant
  • Make sure there are no toxic plants in your yard or garden

What to Do If Your Cat Eats a Toxic Plant

Knowing what to do if your cat eats a toxic plant can save its life. The quicker you act, the better the outlook will be for your cat. Here’s what you should do if your cat eats a toxic plant:

What to do if your cat eats a toxic plant

  1. If your cat still has the plant in their mouth or on their skin or hair, carefully remove the plant if you can do it safely.
  2. Keep an eye on your cat and make a note of any symptoms they’re experiencing so you have more information when you consult experts
  3. Call the Pet Poison Hotline or Animal Control to figure out what to do
  4. Bring your cat to the vet for testing and treatment to minimize symptoms

Final Notes

As a pet parent, making sure your home is filled with plants safe for cats is important. Several types of flowers and houseplants can be toxic or even fatal to cats if ingested. If your cat gets into something that’s poisonous to them, follow the steps we outlined above and take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. Timely treatment is important if your cat has ingested a poisonous plant.

If your cat got into something and you’re worried, telemedicine for pets is the simple solution. With Dutch, you can connect with a vet and schedule an online video chat to get expert advice. However, Dutch isn’t a substitute for emergency vet care. If you need help finding a vet, try Dutch today.

References

  1. “Daffodils.” Pet Poison Helpline, 3 Mar. 2020, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/daffodil/

  2. “Lilies.” Pet Poison Helpline, 3 Mar. 2020, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/lilies/

  3. “Tulips & Hyacinths.” Pet Poison Helpline, 3 Mar. 2020, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/tulip/

  4. “Azalea.” Pet Poison Helpline, 3 Mar. 2020, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/azalea/.

  5. “English Ivy.” Pet Poison Helpline, 8 Apr. 2022, https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/english-ivy/.