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 11 easy and 100% cat friendly houseplants.
Note: all plants come with the risk of upsetting your cat’s stomach somewhat if they’re eaten. Cats even naturally use this reaction to help them vomit up hairballs by eating grass if need be.
If you want to prevent all possibility of vomiting or diarrhea, you’ll have to simply keep all plants in a spot where your cat(s) can’t reach it. That’s also an advantage for the plant, of course. Although most houseplants will survive the occasional nibble, it’s definitely not beneficial for them to be mauled or even knocked over.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants 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 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, that is. 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 overconsumption 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.
|Soil type||Succulent soil|
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!
A full Peperomia caperata caresheet can be found on Houseplant Central here.
You can buy Peperomia caperata online here.
|Soil type||All-purpose + perlite|
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.
A full Christmas cactus caresheet can be found on Houseplant Central here.
You can buy a Christmas cactus online here.
|Soil type||All-purpose + perlite|
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!
A full Cryptanthus caresheet can be found on Houseplant Central here.
You can buy a Cryptanthus Bromeliad online here.
|Soil type||Moisture retaining|
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 the previously mentioned Cryptanthus Bromeliad, Fittonias 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! If you’re looking for more possible additions to a plant terra don’t forget to have a look at this list of easy terrarium plants.
A full Fittonia caresheet can be found on Houseplant Central here.
You can buy a Fittonia online here.
|Soil type||Moisture retaining|
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, Phalaenopsis is 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. Its flowers are relatively fragile and can easily be damaged or knocked off by an overly enthusiastic feline friend.
A full Phalaenopsis orchid care guide can be found on Houseplant Central here.
|Soil type||Orchid bark|
Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides)
The popular Chinese money plant, better known as Pilea peperomioides, is the perfect example of an easy and cat safe plants. Pilea peperomioides is non-toxic to cats, dogs, other pets and humans and it’s undemanding enough that it makes a perfect first houseplant for beginners.
To keep your Pilea plant healthy, provide it with a well-draining potting mix that still retains some moisture. A simple mix of houseplant soil and a handful of perlite should work well! Bright indirect light and keeping the soil lightly moist are the way to go for this species.
One great thing about the Chinese money plant is that it’s so easy to propagate. The mother plant will produce pups, babies that pop up from the soil around her. You can take these and pot them separately to create all-new plants.
You can buy a Pilea peperomioides here.
You can find more information about this houseplant in the Pilea care guides.
|Soil type||Moisture-retaining but well-draining|
Chain of hearts plant (Ceropegia woodii)
The long-stringy vines of the chain of hearts plant are irresistible to cats for playing and chewing, so you’ll be glad to hear that munching on its leaves won’t hurt your pet. You might still want to keep this plant as far away as you can, though, since a potted plant pulled from a shelf will survive but makes for a mighty mess.
The chain of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) is a semi-succulent species naturally found in southern Africa. As such, it loves plenty of sun and doesn’t react well to wet feet. Give it a well-draining soil mix and planter, making sure to let the soil dry out almost completely before you water.
Chain of hearts plants are easy to propagate both in water and in soil. You can take a cutting from any vine to re-root, or you can check the vines for tubers. These small bulbs look like mini potatoes and can produce new vines if you pot them!
|Soil type||Succulent soil|
Air plants (Tillandsia sp.)
If you’re looking for a houseplant that’s easy to keep away from your cat, maybe air plants from the Tillandsia genus would make a good choice for you. These Bromeliads are epiphytic, meaning they naturally grow on other plants in a non-parasitic manner. They do have roots but these are just meant for anchoring.
So if an air plant doesn’t need soil, how do you plant it? You can go as crazy as you want with them as long as they receive bright indirect light. Attaching your Tillandsias to the wall in some way is an easy option if you want to make sure your cat won’t be able to reach them.
To keep your air plants well-hydrated, give them a good spray a few times a week. Every ten days or so you can soak them in a container filled with water for up to a few hours. The guide on watering air plants contains more info.
Baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)
Another great option for beginning houseplant enthusiasts, the baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) is a breeze to care for. Its thick, waxy leaves give away the fact that this species has succulent-like properties, meaning you won’t have to fuss over it all the time.
The key to Peperomia obtusifolia care, as with so many other houseplants, is good drainage. Regular houseplant potting soil works fine for this species, but be sure to also use some bark or perlite in your mix to make it light and airy. Provide the plant with bright, indirect light and wait for the top of the soil to dry out before watering again.
Baby rubber plants come in a lovely variegated version with cream and light green splotches, although the classic, shiny and dark green leaves of the normal baby rubber plant are quite nice to look at as well.
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!
Cover photo: P1120008 by Peter Linehan