Which plants are safe – and not safe – for cats?

Updated 2016

Here’s a list to take to your local plant nursery.

Many indoor cats love to nibble plants, but what’s a home without plants? My friend Shenandoah had a good idea: Just tell me which plants are safe for cats so I don’t have to worry about this behavior. Most plants can weather some nibbling.

So I did some research at the aspca.org database and ended up with a list of common houseplants that are safe, and four common ones that are not.  I think that many cats show an instinct to avoid poisonous plants, but there is no guarantee of that. (Case in point: Phil and Joel pulled down the Pothos recently, so we had to get rid of it.)

TIP: Some people find it helpful to spray Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray on a houseplant for a few weeks so that your cat is deterred and decides to leave them alone thereafter.

House plants that are safe for cats

You and your cat can enjoy the Feng Shui and air cleansing of this lovely greenery in your home.

Note: Too much of any plant may make a cat vomit. Use caution.

1. Most types of ferns are safe….Boston Fern, Sword Fern, Button Fern, Cliff break fern, Mother Fern, Carrot Fern and most other ferns.

Fern

With ferns, according to the aspca database, you need only avoid: The very toxic Cycads (not really a fern, but also known as “Fern Palm” and Sago Palm) and the mildly toxic Asparagus Fern (aka Asparagus, Emerald Feather, Emerald Fern, Sprengeri Fern, Plumosa Fern, Lace Fern, Racemose Asparagus, Shatavari, Asparagus densiflorus cv sprengeri).

3. Fish Pole Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) is safe **

This is that tall bamboo you see used as screens indoors and out, as shown here.

4. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is safe:**

Bamboo palm

**IMPORTANT: Do not confuse the above bamboo plants with with the toxic plantsLucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)” and “Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)” — neither of which are lucky or heavenly for cats!

Which brings me to the next list…

House plants that are poisonous to cats

There shall be no nibbling on these common plants!

If you think you may have a poison emergency, immediately contact your vet or or the ASPCA 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

1. Ivy is toxic to cats

Avoid all kinds of ivy.

Keep cats away from Ivy

Keep Ivy away from cats

 

2. Pothos is toxic to cats (typically not deadly though):

Keep Pothos away from cats

 

3. Philodendron is toxic to cats (typically not deadly though):

Keep Philodendrons away from cats

 

4. Kalanchoe is toxic to cats:

Keep Kalanchoe away from cats

 

And what about the Christmasy Poinsettia? Well, it goes on the unsafe list, but turns out it’s not that deadly: “Irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity.”

CAT TIP: Sometimes indoor cats just really seem to be obsessed with eating something green. I think they are craving grass. The chlorophyll is cleansing and may even help prevent cancer. When we have cat grass around, our cats don’t seem so interested in the plants.

 

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30 Responses to Which plants are safe – and not safe – for cats?

  1. camille kocsis December 22, 2018 at 3:07 pm #

    The ASPCA has a MUCH longer list of plants that are a NO for cats.I mean MUCH longer. Check ot their website

  2. Rachelle August 27, 2018 at 9:37 pm #

    According to the Page you linked for the heavenly bamboo, which does say it’s toxic for plants, it also says what is considered lucky bamboo to be safe or nontoxic? What is your source for the lucky bamboo?

  3. Dan June 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm #

    Please include peace lily’s on this list. my cat got REALLY sick after i moved into a new apartment with some and he had a few snacks. Putting it out of reach and buying some cat grass fixed the problem, he still sneaks snacks of the bamboo, but what are you gonna do?

  4. Agnes graham October 24, 2016 at 2:15 pm #

    Where is the list of plants not good for cats

  5. Lee Potter October 21, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

    We have3cats and lucky bamboo all through the house did not know it was toxic even though it did not make them sick we put hot sauce on them to keep them from messing up the leaves thank God it did not make them sick thank you very much they chewed on them all the time before the hot sauce

  6. Rhonda Talley October 30, 2015 at 5:58 am #

    I just caught my “Valentine” about to eat my aloe Vera plant. I didn’t know if it was toxic or not. I just said no no very loud to her. Luckily i did because it is poisonous to felines. I love instant information.

  7. Jennifer October 15, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    I noticed that Tiger Lilies are on the list. They are extremely hazardous to cats…I once had to rush a cat the vet after a brief exposure.

    • Liz October 17, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

      you are so correct! We mention this in the flowers post. I was not considering tiger lilies a house plant.

  8. Gayla July 8, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    I have received a plant from my mothers funeral of course no tag on it to say what it is its all green with oval shaped leaves. We have 3 cats of our own and r fostering 5 kittens after reading ur article im very concerned that this plant maybe toxic i know its not much info on the plant hope u can help

  9. happynormalatheist July 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    First of all, it’s wrong to keep nonhuman animals as pets. I’m all for adopting and rescuing captive cats (who are often forced to live in appalling conditions), but am against further domestication of animals. Cats, like anybody else, like to go outside, explore, and do what they want. Keeping anyone indoors all the time is unnatural and cruel. I am caring for two rescued cats who live with me. I let them use the yard and go in and out as they want. I would never think of keeping a cat in a tiny apartment, at least not permanently.

    I like the plant ideas. I am going to buy some bamboo plants to put in my house.

    • mallory December 8, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

      I have a cat that was rescued from the outdoors and spayed and then we found out she is FIV+. I want to let her explore so badly but am afraid she might infect other kitties. what’s your stance there?

    • Rachelle August 27, 2018 at 9:32 pm #

      Cruel? You can be against the domestication of animals, but I hate to be the one to tell you that cats are already domesticated. Even feral cats are breeds of domesticated cats. They still have some species in Europe that are not, but not in the US.

      Believe it or not, some cats enjoy being inside. I had a cat for 12 years that I got from a shelter, who was found as a stray, that wouldn’t go outside if I left the door wide open. She liked her air conditioning, her fleece blankets, her toys, and always knowing she had food and water.

      During that time she also was my only companion at certain points. If she hated her life, she really didn’t act like it. During this time I became disabled and she was like a therapy animal for me. I loved her unconditionally and losing her was beyond heartbreaking.

      You can share you opinion , but you don’t have to be so self righteous, not everyone’s story is the same.

    • Rebecca May 5, 2019 at 1:35 pm #

      Working at a humane society has been a huge eye opener concerning all of the risks outdoor or sometimes-outdoor cats face on a daily basis. The risks are extensive, but I’ll list a few that I see on a daily basis.

      Disease!! If your cats so much as step in the urine or snot of a cat infected with feline leukemia, which is incredibly widespread among outdoor and feral cats, your cat is at risk. This is a potentially fatal disease. FIV, FIP, distemper, rabies, are only a few of the deadly diseases you put your cats at risk for when you let them outside.

      Parasites. Internal, external, ticks, fleas, botfly larvae, the risks are endless and potentially deadly. We get in so many stray or outdoor cats with parasites, it isn’t even funny. Cats with botfly larvae burrowing into their flesh, incredibly toxic. Because they eat the flesh and leave a hole open, the risk of infection is great. Depending on where they burrow, potentially deadly beyond the toxicity or infection risk. Cats with botfly larvae burrowing into the brain is not uncommon. We see this often at the shelter. It’s devastating. Ringworm, which, like many diseases, parasites, and fungus infections (like ringworm) you and your other pets can get! (Have fun with that one!!)

      Cars. “But my cats WANT to go outside!!” Well, yeah. My 2 year old niece WANTS to play in the road.. so I should, of course, let her.. right? Cats do not understand the risks of going into the road. They don’t understand that cars are dangerous.

      Predators. Duh, I don’t need to explain this one.

      Evil humans. They are EVERYWHERE. Your neighbor likely hates your cats. Every neighbor thinks your cat is killing their songbirds. Every month we get in cats who are poisoned, cats with buckshot in their flesh. Cats who are shot with BB guns, or worse. Those neighbor kids? Yeah, they’re vicious. Cats with arrows shot into their bodies, usually come to us with the arrow still embedded. Cats who are mutilated, burned, wounded from rocks, from garden equipment, from knives. Not to mention all of the people who will keep your cat, and offer them the safe indoor home they deserve. Or they bring your cats to us, and if you’re lucky enough to find them at a shelter, we have to (by law and to pay employees for the work they do to pick up and car for your cats, and for the space they take up in our shelter, which prevents us from saving other animals who actually need that space) charge you up the wazoo to get your cat back.

      These are only a few of the risks. Some of you even let your unspayed/unneutered cats outdoors, which leads to more cats suffering and dying outside, and overpopulation in shelters. The real assholes let their declawed cats outside. Declawing is a cruel mutilation, a full amputation that leads to enormous health and behavioral issues, as it is, but then they put them outside basically defenseless.

      All cats can and will adapt to a happy, cushy life indoors. You can build an outdoor, safe cat enclosure, or train your cat to allow you to walk them on a harness and leash.

      But PLEASE do not allow your cat outdoors unattended without a harness and leash, or safe cat enclosure. The average lifespan of a truly outdoor cat is about 3 years. But even cats who are only outdoors part time are at a massive risk of a shortened lifespan.

      If you don’t believe me, go volunteer at a shelter or rescue. Not only will you be a huge help saving animals, but you’ll receive a full education and realize just how much you don’t know. Or read up on the science of the topic. Yes, actual science has proven time and again that everything I’ve written here is 100% true. https://www.thedailycat.com/health/safety/outdoor_cat_dangers/index.php

      If, after reading this, you still put your cats outdoors, shame on you. Your are the bane of a shelter employee or volunteer’s existence. In many ways, you are contributing to the death of shelter animals and pets. Whether your own cat’s, other outdoor cats and animals, or the cats who we can’t save because your cat, or their offspring, are taking up space in shelters that could be used to save other animals.

      There are endless ways to train your cat to stop diving out open doors, and endless ways to make them happy indoors or have safe visits outside. You just have to do a little research and maybe a little work for your animals. And they deserve that. They deserve pet parents who will protect them.

      • Anjanette Smith July 12, 2019 at 6:28 am #

        I have 3 cats, only 1 has the urge to go outside. Which makes sense, because her mom was a rescued feral cat. So instead of fighting with her, I got her a harness and leash. She is so happy just sitting on my porch with me. She has not tried once to go towards the stairs. And believe me, if the temps outside are really hot, you’ll find her cozy on my bed in front of the air conditioner. Keep cats inside.

  10. Steve Jacob December 1, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Among the herbs that repel cats are Rue, Canina, citronella, lavender, rosemary, lemon grass oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil and mustard oil.Anise, Bergamot, Castor,Calendula and Chives. Cats should stay away if you plant them as a border around your flowerbeds or intersperse them among the other plants in your garden.

    • Elaine May 14, 2019 at 5:13 pm #

      Thank you, Rebecca. Having volunteered in the care ad TNR of ferals, we became cat parents to three rescues, ad did adopt another at 3 months old. Our boys are terrified of outside, ad the one who is the daredevil managed to get himself lost after sneaking out, Thankfully, he was found 8 miles away 2 months later, after much grief and searching. His brother was so frail when he came to us, asthmatic, kidney problems & at death’s door many times. We are as greatful to have him as he obviously is to have us. And then there’s shy boy, Sam, and we wonder how that little guy ever survived out there for seven months! He loves home & is definitely not a lover of outdoors. They are safe, loved and cared for, not sleeping under cars or in bushes I all kinds of weather. I’ve seen and heard the most cruel words and behavior from some nasty humans toward these awesome little boys and girls. For my moey, our boys stay inside and never had it so good!

  11. Doobie Keebler June 23, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    You might want to reconsider your safe rating of spider plants. They can cause nausea in cats and after vomiting frequently a cat might stop eating and then dive headlong towards death. I’ve lost one cat to that and had another come close before removing the spider plant. Be on the safe side: keep spider plants out of cats reach.

    • Rainbowlizzie June 23, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

      Blessings Doobie Keebler, thank you for the heads up for Spider Plant. I removed the plant as yes Daisy May had a smallnepisode after just munching on a small leave, but thankfully she is fine and checked over by her vet. Plus, since we have removed the Geranium with is lethal as is Aloe Vera plants so they have been banished from her reach and taken down to our greenhouse. We have now a main list of 10 herbs which are for happy and healthy cats, and most of them are bought from Abbeybotanicals in amazon, chamomile, burdock n valerian. and seedong some Echinacea, and plamted Lanender, Rosemary, Oregano and Parsley. And she loves her Green Beans and Carrots too. Thank you again for the heafs up. I will pass this information about Spinder Plants on Daisy’blog. Blessings.

    • Liz-cat June 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

      Doobie, thank you for sharing your experience and warning here about the spider plants. APSCA says they are “not known to be toxic but too much of any plant can make a cat vomit.” But, if you lost a cat after they ate that plant then that is indeed a concern!

  12. Rainbowlizzie May 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Blessings Liz Cat for the list of safe plants is so important. We have just adopted a 6 year old Black n Whit Short Hair Daisy May and she loves sunning in the bay window. I grow many herbs and plants in my bay window other from two pots off catgrass, there is a huge Aloe Vera, Money Plant, Esater Cactus, Geranium (which we are taking back down to the allotments), and a Begonia. Are any of the plants poisonous to Daisy May?! Meantime, I have two pots of valerian and catmint growing indoors and have a small trough am setting up for a herb trough with Rosemry, Sage, Oregano and Mint. And Parsley in the kitchen window. Thank you for you important info shared, much appreciated and purrrrs Daisy May (puss cat) and my mummy Rainbow Lizzie 🙂

  13. SANDRA D January 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    My cat was sick, but I went outside, late at night and cut grass to put in her food. Mixed with Salmon and Fresh grass, she better. Grass really works

  14. Hairless Cat Girl October 30, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Hi Liz,

    Thanx for the list of plants – safe and unsafe.

    We have a lot of Spider Plants in the house. Our cats love to chew on them.

    I’m always bringing grass inside during the non-winter months. The fiber cleans out the hairballs and tones the gut. The minerals and chlorophyll is really good for them too. They love the smell and taste of grass.

    Yeah, Ivy is really bad. Didn’t know Pothos was toxic to cats. Glad you tipped me off.

    Apparently Aloe is pretty toxic.

    Thanx for the list,

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

    • Linda Lawrence September 12, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      lol thank you Hairless Cat Girl. I bring grasses, dandylions, clovers and twigs in for my cats to play with and chew on. My neighbours think I am nuts. But my 2 orange tabbies are in a tiny apartment with me. I feel bad they can’t access outside. So I bring a little in with me while it is available. Every time I come in from somewhere they run to meet me, meowing and chirping as if to ask “Did you bring me a present Mommy?” How can I say no. 🙂

  15. Julie February 12, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Yes, the pictures are extremely helpful! I had no idea the Lucky Bamboo was toxic to cats. I’ve taken several of my plants to work after reading your blog, Liz – thanks so much for helping us to keep our fur babies safe… 🙂
    I also read on your FB page that Essential Oils are toxic to cats. I have been using a combination of Tea Tree Oil, hydrogen peroxide and Biokleen as a general household cleaner, thinking this was safe – YIKES! I want to use something for disinfecting. Do you think it’s OK to just use straight hydrogen peroxide? Or, I wonder if Clorox Anywhere is OK… the active ingredient is Sodium Hypochlorite – 0.00095% and it has chlorine as 0.009%. It doesn’t say what the “other ingredients” are, however… the bottle says it is safe to use around kids, pets and food.

    • Liz-cat February 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

      Hi Julie, thanks. Yes, there is a strong consensus that tea tree oil is not safe for cats. I was surprised and had used it a lot before too! Cats are just so special and sensitive because they lack a certain detoxifying enzyme.
      I found that the ASPCA says hydrogen peroxide make cats & dogs throw up and is sometimes used on purpose to throw up poison, ironically, BUT they say avoid using it with cats as it may be too much for them:

      SO, what to use to clean? That’s the topic of planned post – I have my info all squirreled away and ready for it, but here are a couple suggestions:

      Method Multi-Surface Cleaner – BE SURE to get the one marked “Free of Dyes + Perfumes”…and they changed the name recently to “Go Naked.”

      A mixture of vinegar and water is considered safe and cats don’t like the smell of vinegar so will avoid it anyway. It also is antibacterial and cleans just about anything.

      If you do use something with an iffy substance like hydrogen peroxide in an area the cats are like to walk, just wipe it down really well with water.

      But in general avoid any substances with essential oils in cat areas.

      • Rainbowlizzie May 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

        Thank you for the heads up of using vinegar and water, which is more natural and I also use this to deter scratching in places ogher than scratch post. Daisy May soon started using her scratch post. Bless her. Thanks again 🙂

    • Sandy May 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

      I use a tablespoon of dawn with a quarter cup to a half a cup of white vinegar and the rest of a spray bottle of water to clean and disinfect. Good for the furless child variety also;)

    • Rainbowlizzie May 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm #

      Wow, am surprised that chemicals are in the house but hey, which are deadly to a puss cat! You can get a pet antibacterial spay from sainsbury’s called PETFACE Disinfectant Spray which kills 99%.99 bacteria and viruses including kennel cough, canine distemper and parvo virus. 24 hour germ protection. Neutralizes odours and leaves a fresh, clean scent. Suitable for aeras where pets live, sleep and feed. Ideal for cleaning cat litter trays and small animal cages.

      This product indredients are as follows: 5% Surfactant, Disinfectant, Perfume, Also contains Polyaminopropyl Biguanide. See http://www.byotrol.co.uk/pet

      I use this product on all my floors and where Daisy May goes and would not use anything else. Kitchen floor and bathroom too. And I keep antibacterial hand wash and hand rub in the kitchen and bathroom. The only poisnous chemicals I have in the flat is for the loo which is locked away so puddycat paws cannot reach.

      You can also pick this product at Pets At Home, as well as Sainsbury’s main supermarkets. You can add to your online shopping. I think it was £2.99 ish. I hope this helps. Blessinsgs.

  16. Helen November 6, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Thanks for the pictures!!! I went to so many sites and they just had the names-hundreds of names and I wasn’t going to look up every name to find a picture. So this was very helpful! Thanks!

    • Liz-cat November 6, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      That’s great to hear Helen! Thank you. Yeah, I felt the same way—when all I could find were long lists of Latin names, it wasn’t that helpful. : )

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