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Are these common houseplants safe for your cat? Read this guide to find out the scoop

Which houseplants to avoid if you have a curious cat

Bringing new plants into your home is an exciting part of being a gardener, but you may not be the only one taking an interest in your plants. If you have a curious kitty, you might need to worry about them chewing on your houseplants. This isn’t great for your plants, of course, but it can also harm your cat! While some plants are harmless to chew on, others are toxic. If you want to know if your houseplants are safe for cats, you’re in luck. Here’s a list of some of the most common houseplants and how safe they are for cats.

Spider plant on a table
Bozhena Melnyk / Shutterstock

Cat-safe houseplants

Spider plants are low-maintenance houseplants safe for your cat to nibble on. While you should still try to keep your kitty from eating too much of it, this is more for the plant’s sake than theirs.

Cat grass (which is a mix of multiple types of grasses, not a single unique species) is a great option for house cats who love to eat plants. Grass, in general, is safe for cats, and if you grow your own indoors, you can be sure you haven’t treated it with any herbicides that might be unsafe for your cat.

African violets are a safe way to add some color to your home. The leaves and flowers are OK for your cat to take a bite of (although your plant won’t thank you for that!). However, the roots can sometimes cause indigestion. As long as your cat doesn’t like to dig, this plant is safe to have.

Daylilies for a rain garden
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Houseplants that are unsafe for cats

If you’ve been wondering if pothos is toxic to cats or if snake plants are toxic to cats, then unfortunately the answer is yes to both. Snake plants contain saponins, a naturally occurring compound found in many plants that can create a soapy foam. This compound is also what causes some people to taste soap when eating cilantro (which isn’t safe for cats to eat, either). Eating a plant with saponins can cause an upset stomach in cats, including vomiting and diarrhea. Alliums, legumes, and soapweed also contain saponins.

Pothos plants contain calcium oxalate, a mineral that isn’t technically toxic, but it does irritate soft tissues. A cat’s mouth and throat can become irritated and swollen if they chew on or swallow pothos leaves. This can be very dangerous, but thankfully the symptoms are typically easy for vets to alleviate. Other common houseplants that contain calcium oxalate are begonias, peace lilies, and dieffenbachia.

Lilies are beautiful flowers often kept in and around houses. However, you should avoid them if you have cats. Lilies are extremely toxic to cats, and not only if they chew on the leaves or petals. Licking small amounts of pollen off their fur or even drinking water from a vase of lilies can cause kidney failure.

Before bringing home a plant, it’s important to know if that indoor plant is safe for cats. Although we can’t list every plant possible, now you know a few of the most common ones and how they impact your feline companion. When in doubt, keep your plants out of reach of your cats, and call your vet if you think your cat may have eaten something poisonous.

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Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
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