Almost everyone loves a little green in their home, but things can get complicated if you’re a cat owner: cats are known to nibble on houseplants from time to time, which can lead to dangerous situations if a plant is toxic. Plant stores and garden centers usually don’t list whether plants are cat safe, leaving you to figure it out yourself.
Fear not! Even a cat owner’s house can be houseplant heaven. Keep reading for a list of 7 easy and 100% cat friendly houseplants!
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants (pictured above) are not toxic to cats but they do have a strange effect on them: many cats are actually attracted to this plant due to its hallucinogenic properties, which are said to be somewhat similar to catnip. Your cat’s tummy won’t appreciate too many spider plant leaves, though, and excessive consumption can cause vomiting. As with cat grass, some cats will therefore purposely eat spider plant leaves to make themselves vomit if their stomach is upset.
All this means that although the plant poses no threat to cats it might be a good idea to keep it out of their reach if possible – unless you have no problem with cleaning up cat vomit. A hanging planter in a hard to reach spot can help!
Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Ponytail palms are not actual palms but a type of succulent with a fat trunk meant for storing water. Their grass-like leaves are irresistible to some cats but since they are not toxic there is no reason to worry about possible health issues – just the possibility of vomiting and/or diarrhea, which consumption of any plant can cause. If your ponytail palm is suffering from being nibbled on excessively, try moving it to a spot that’s a little more difficult to reach and supplying plenty of cat grass for your cat to demolish instead.
Members of the Peperomia genus, including Peperomia caperata (emerald ripple Peperomia) are entirely cat safe and their leaves should be left alone by most felines. This, combined with its decorative appearance and easy care, makes Peperomia caperata a great choice for cat owners looking for an easy plant.
Supply your Peperomia caperata with plenty of indirect or artificial light and water when the top of the soil has gone dry to keep it happy and healthy. When properly cared for this plant might reward you with interesting, rat tail-like flowers. Not very pretty, but at least it tries!
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)
Christmas cacti and the closely related Thanksgiving cactus (both from the Schlumbergera genus) bloom spectacularly around the holiday season and can really cheer up your home with their white, pink or purple flowers during the dark Winter days.
Although consumption of any kind of foliage including Christmas cactus leaves or flowers can cause your cat’s stomach to become upset (which might lead to vomiting), these plants are not toxic and your feline friend should feel just fine after any plant bits have left its body.
Earth star Bromeliad (Cryptanthus)
Cryptanthus Bromeliads, also known as earth stars, are a type of terrestrial Bromeliad with a decorative, star-shaped growth pattern. They are appreciated for the wide range of leaf colors and patterns available and are listed by the ASPCA as non-toxic to cats.
Because Cryptanthus Bromeliads appreciate a very moist environment they are best suited to a plant terrarium. A terrarium is a great way to keep moisture levels up, but also has the additional advantage of making it a lot more difficult for your cat to reach the plants it contains! This way there will be no nibbling on leaves nor the resulting possibility of vomiting and diarrhea, which is normal when cats eat foliage but obviously not very convenient.
Nerve plant (Fittonia)
Fittonias are a great choice for anyone looking to brighten their home with some very colorful foliage: their leaves usually feature a normal green color but the leaf veins can be light green or extremely bright pink. Like Cryptanthus Bromeliads they appreciate plenty of moisture and make a great addition to plant terrariums. In fact, you should be able to combine these plants to make for a super colorful and relatively cat-proof display!
Moth orchid (Phalaenopsis)
Most orchids are listed as non-toxic to cats, which is great news for houseplant lovers with a fondness for beautiful flowers. Probably the most popular orchid to grow at home is Phalaenopsis; while not the easiest plant to care for, it’s appreciated for its very wide range of flower colors that should help brighten up any home. When care requirements are met it will rebloom many times without much extra help and these flowers can last for weeks or even months.
Even though this plant poses no threat to cats it might be a good idea to place it in a hanging planter in a hard to reach spot, as its flowers are relatively fragile and can easily be damaged or knocked off by an overly enthusiastic feline friend.
A full Phalaenopsis orchid careheet can be found on Houseplant Central here.
If you have any more questions about which houseplants are and aren’t safe for cats or if you want to share your own experiences with any of the plants on this list, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!