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Indoor Plants that are Safe for Your Cat
By: Jill Regal & Trupanion Staff | Updated Aug 1, 2023
Indoor plants are popular for their potential filter the air around us, reduce our stress levels, and beautify our spaces. Unfortunately for pet parents, many of the same trendy and easy-growing plants that we love are toxic to cats. Some plants and flowers may cause oral ulceration or irritation just by chewing on them, while other plants (like lilies) can be extremely toxic and even fatal for cats.
But that doesn’t mean you need to forgo houseplants entirely. Instead, taking the time to learn more about how to choose cat-friendly houseplants and which varieties are non-toxic can save both your feline's life and your love of greenery around the home.
Keep in mind that "non-toxic" doesn't necessarily mean "non-harmful." While consuming any of the plants listed in this article isn't likely to result in long-lasting or severe detrimental effects to your cat's health, they can still cause stomach-upset or other forms of gastrointestinal discomfort.
7 houseplants that are safe for cats
Wondering what your cat-friendly houseplant options are? We consulted with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to track down non-toxic plant options that come veterinarian approved.
1. American rubber plant
If you live in a small space and are looking for a low-maintenance plant, the American rubber plant could be a good choice due to its compact size and minimal water requirement.
Although American rubber plants are safe for dogs and cats, not all rubber plants are pet-friendly. Like other types of greenery, rubber plants come in many different varieties. Nearly all are toxic to cats except for the American rubber plant.
“When researching and purchasing plants, consider using the plant’s scientific name to confirm that it is safe for your cat,” Wilde says. “The common name may cause confusion or be potentially toxic.”
2. Spider plant
A solid choice for pet parents, spider plants are easy to maintain and easy to look at. Known for their long, thin leaves with pointed tips, they look great in a hanging planter or atop a tall cabinet (definitely a bonus for cat owners with kitties who like to nibble on plants).
Since they’re native to the tropics, spider plants thrive in warm, humid environments, but they can easily adapt to indoor living in colder climates. To keep your spider plant healthy, plant in a pot with good drainage, keep the soil moist, provide access to indirect sunlight, and avoid sending it into shock by keeping curious cat teeth far out of reach.
3. Prayer plant
If you prefer bold patterns, the prayer plant — whose name comes from the way its leaves curl in like folded hands —could be a great choice. While the prayer plant does not contain any known toxic properties to pets, it is worth mentioning that the plant's thick leaves could lead to bowel obstruction if large bites (or many small bites) are consumed.
Prayer plants require a bit more care than a spider plant and does best in a warm, humid environment with access to indirect sunlight. Spritz it occasionally with water to keep the prayer plant happy.
Scientific names vary
If you’re into cooking, consider growing herbs on your kitchen windowsill, but pay attention to the particular herb to make sure it’s safe for cats.
Popular herbs that are safe for cats include:
If you're unsure about an herb, talk with your pet's veterinarian. Many herbs are cat friendly, while others — like oregano, lemongrass, and marjoram — are toxic to cats.
Keep in mind that different herbs prefer different growing conditions — for example, rosemary does best with less water and several hours of sunlight per day. If you have an outdoor space, you could even keep your herbs outside in the summer and bring them inside in the winter.
Ever hear of cat grass? It's often just wheatgrass, which is really the fresh sprouts of the common wheat plant. If you’d like a plant to keep your cat entertained, wheatgrass is a great choice because it’s completely safe for cats to munch on. And according to Wild, wheatgrass comes with the added bonus of vitamins and other nutrients beneficial to cats, and it can be a great source of fiber for your cat’s diet.
Wheatgrass is sold at a lot of plant shops and nurseries, though you can also find it at many pet stores. Wheatgrass is easy to care for and is great for the dark corners of your home. Plant from seeds or choose an inexpensive version that’s ready for your cat’s chompers.
6. Christmas cactus
Flowers and cats often don't mix, but the good news is that not all flowering houseplants are toxic to felines. If you're looking for a beautiful flowering plant, check out the Christmas cactus (or Easter cactus — or holiday cactus — depending on who you ask). The Christmas cactus is a succulent that produces bright pink flowers that prefers indirect light and needs a fair amount of water to thrive.
Like many pet-safe succulents, the Christmas cactus is nonpoisonous to cats but may still cause stomach upset or irritation if eaten. Those pointy sides are meant to deter animals, but they won't necessarily stop a determined feline. Keep this one out of reach, but take comfort in knowing that your cat isn't going to suffer from toxicity if they do get a nip in.
7. Ponytail palm
This tiny tree isn’t a palm tree at all: it’s actually related to the famous Joshua tree. We love the cat-safe ponytail palm because it’s super easy to care for (it can survive infrequent watering) — plus, it’s, well…cute. Like many houseplants, the ponytail palm prefers several hours a day of indirect sunlight and shouldn't sit in totally dry soil.
Those long, tendril-like leaves are just screaming for cat paws to play with though, so keep that in mind when picking out a spot for it. Place atop a tall surface in the sunniest room of the house, water when you remember, and enjoy the jaunty cat-friendly touch this plant adds to your space.
Practice pet safety even with non-toxic houseplants
So what happens after you bring the plant home? With the exception of wheatgrass, all houseplants —even pet-safe ones — should be kept well out of reach of curious cats. Remember; even cat-safe plants can cause stomach
irritation and vomiting if your cat ingests too much (plus, a chewed-up plant probably isn’t the look you’re
You want your pet to enjoy their time at home, especially if they are an indoor-only cat. Houseplants can be a great way to bring a touch of the outdoors inside, you’re able to beautify your space and provide enrichment for your pet. It all comes down to doing your research (reading this post is a great start!) and monitoring your cat’s behavior. As with any toy or food ingestion, please seek medical care for your pet if you have any concerns.
That said, cats can be unpredictable even when the best precautions are taken. While you’re looking at cat-safe houseplant options, be sure to consider pet insurance if you haven't protected your pet from health emergencies and other unexpected medical expenses if your cat isn't already covered.