Cat Owners Beware: Identifying and Avoiding Toxic Plants for Cats
Discover the hidden dangers lurking in your garden with our comprehensive guide on plants toxic to cats. Unveil the plants that pose a threat to your feline friends and learn how to protect them from potential harm.
Plants and pets — especially cats — aren’t always a match made in heaven for a multitude of reasons. One being: cats are known for having a proclivity for knocking over plants just for fun, sending your potted plant babies to the ground in one fell swoop of a paw.
But a bigger danger could be lying in the soil that goes far beyond the mess of a pushed over plant. The plants you’re growing indoors could be toxic to your cat. So, if you’re a plant enthusiast, and a cat parent, it’s important to know about these common house plants that are dangerous to have around your fur babies — and some good alternatives if your green thumb is really itching to have plants around!
Because cats are such nimble creatures and can jump to pretty impressive heights, simply putting toxic plants on higher shelves may not be a safe enough option to keep your pets out of harm's way. These plants are known to be toxic for cats, so if you’ve got them inside it may be time to find a new place for them far away from your pets.
Toxic if chewed on and/or ingested. Just a nibble is all it takes for a snake plant to have negative health impacts on your cat. According to Basepaws, “All parts of the plant contain saponin, a toxin that is harmful to cats and can cause illness.”
While, thankfully this plant has more mild toxins — read: it likely won’t kill your cat after one bite — it is likely to cause stomach upset in the form of nausea, diarrhea, and/or vomiting.
Toxic if ingested and/or chewed on. According to Wag! “The leaves and stem of the golden pothos contain calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic and can penetrate soft tissue in the mouth, throat, and stomach.”
What are the signs and symptoms to look out for in your cat if you suspect they’ve eaten part of the plant? Wag! notes, that your cat may experience excessive drooling, vomiting, or may “paw at his mouth in an attempt to relieve the burning sensation caused by the crystals,” they “could also have difficulty swallowing because of swelling or discomfort.”
Toxic if ingested and/or chewed on. Your cat may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and/or lethargy if they ingest aloe. Surprisingly the aloe “gel” itself can be ingested in small, monitored doses to induce bowel movements for your cat, but this should only be done under the advisement of a doctor. All in all, it’s best to keep this plant away from your cat as its toxicity can negatively impact your cat’s health.
This is a hugely popular plant, and unfortunately one that is toxic to your cat if chewed on or ingested, though, thankfully, it’s generally not considered lethally toxic.
According to Monstera Plant Rescue, “If your cat ingests a part of your monstera, it may irritate their mouth, throat, and stomach lining and possibly cause vomiting and drooling; however, your kitty’s life won’t be at risk unless it has eaten very large quantities of the plant. This is rare, though, because the irritation will begin almost immediately after your cat takes a bite out of your monstera, which should discourage it from eating any more.”
If ingested by your cat, a jade plant can cause some uncomfortable distress and can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Wag! notes, “Symptoms of jade plant poisoning may manifest quickly. Do not attempt to treat jade plant poisoning at home, as owners have no way of knowing the full extent of poisoning and may worsen the condition. You should consult your vet immediately as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of muscle function
- Slow heart rate
*Symptoms may also include signs of depression, such as:
- Lack of grooming
- Increased aggression
- Lethargy and weakness
- Excessive sleeping and/or hiding
Safe Plant Alternatives
You may be wondering, okay, so what plants can I have around my cat? You’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of varieties of plants that you can have indoors for your enjoyment — and potentially even your cats enjoyment (beyond pushing them off a ledge).
One of the simplest options? Going for faux! A fake plant will likely not attract your cat’s attention beyond possibly wanting to do what cats do: push it to the ground. The benefit of a fake plant in this circumstance: very minimal mess to clean up! If your cat is still too attentive to your faux potted plants, you can always try using taste deterrents and/or scent repellents. Citrus fruits are a great natural deterrent!
Be your cat’s favorite botanist ever by growing their favorite herb fresh at home!
If you know your cat simply cannot resist temptation and will undoubtedly try to munch on any plants you grow, a spider plant is a safe option. These plants are not toxic to your cat, even if they happen to be curious enough to take a nibble.
Pretty and pet-friendly — that’s a plant every pet parent can get behind! Calathea is another safe option for your cats (and dogs!). Plant Addicts notes, “These plants have an upright growth habit, and nothing about them will likely entice cats or kittens. It is very possible cats will leave Calathea plants alone, but your pet will be okay if they nibble on the foliage.”
What about herbs and spices?
In addition to house plants, it might be worth sharing common culinary herbs and spices that are best to not have around your cats.
The bottom line...
Whatever you’re growing at home, your pet’s safety should be top of mind! Thankfully, there are many plant options for home-garden-aficionados to enjoy growing while keeping pets safe, healthy, and happy.