Are my House Plants Safe for Cats?

Are my House Plants Safe for Cats?

It’s no secret that house plants are a lovely and valuable addition to the home. They liven up a sterile room and elevate our mood. Plus, as natural air purifiers, they remove harmful pollutants from the air, notably gases emitted by common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene and formaldehyde. VOCs are found in many household and hobby products, and exposure to them can cause health problems such as headaches, nausea, and irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat. Some VOCs are known to cause cancer in both animals and humans. By filtering out these noxious fumes, plants help us and our animal companions breathe easier and be healthier.

Before introducing a plant to your home, consider the safety, health, and habits of your indoor feline friend. Some plants, while harmless to humans, are poisonous to cats if bitten or consumed, causing minor to devastating adverse reactions. These can range from mild symptoms like drooling and lethargy to more severe ones such as vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, bloody stools, kidney and liver failure, heart problems, and death.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains a large database of common toxic and non-toxic plants. This resource, although not comprehensive, is an excellent place to check which plants are safe for cats, as well as for dogs and horses.

Here are ten indoor plants that are known to be safe for cats:
1. African Violet
2. Aluminum Plant (pictured above)
3. Calathea
4. Candle Plant
5. Gerbera Daisy
6. Hens and Chicks
7. King and Queen Fern
8. Parlour Palm
9. Spider Plant (also known as Spider Ivy)
10. Variegated Wax Plant

For more information on household toxins, ways to make your home safer, and how to create a pet first aid kit, read the Pet Poison Hotline’s Guide to Pet Safety.

If your cat is a chewer, you may want to take measures to protect your houseplants, even if they’re not poisonous. One of mine enjoys biting leaves and stems and has shown great interest in my potted king and queen fern. I have encircled it with chicken wire, which while unattractive, has kept him at bay. Other methods suggested to me have included employing spray bottle discipline, placing citrus peels in pots, and cultivating distracting (sacrificial?) plants that he is allowed to eat, such as catnip and cat grass.

Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives has numerous resources to help you keep cats safe. For indoor stimulation, build DIY Cat Shelves to give your feline more territory to roam and feel secure, and Safe, Happy Cat has lots of tips on keeping your cat stimulated and exercised. Building a Cat Enclosure or “Catio” can provide supervised and secure outdoor entertainment and also prevent unfortunate incidents with birds. If you have cats who visit your yard, read our tips on Cat-Proofing Your Garden.

Sources: ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List, Banfield Pet Hospital, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

This post was written by guest blogger and cat mom of two Rebecca Kennedy.