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Health & Wellness

What plants are safe for cats to be around?

Save this guide for your next planting day.

Houseplants and flowers add vibrancy and fresh air to our spaces, but unfortunately, some types of greenery are unsafe for cats to be around. Even if they’re kept up high or seemingly out of reach, it’s important to remember that curious cats can climb to even the highest spaces. 

Cats typically experience plant poisoning after eating or ingesting a plant that’s toxic to them. So, if you’re a green-thumbed cat parent, you’ll want to read our vet-approved guide on safe and unsafe plants for cats. 

What houseplants are safe for cats to be around? 

Although not all plants are safe for cats, that doesn’t mean you have to give up plants entirely. Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo's on-staff veterinarian, says these houseplants are generally safe for cats to be around: 

  • Boston fern
  • Spider plant
  • Christmas cactus
  • Phalaenopsis orchid
  • African violets
  • Gerbera daisies
  • Donkey’s tail
  • Blue echeveria 
  • Cast-iron plant
  • American rubber plant
  • The parlor palm

What houseplants are poisonous to cats? 

Before heading to the greenhouse for your new purchase, ask your veterinarian if the plant you had in mind is safe for your cat to be around. Dr. McCullough shares the most common unsafe flora and how they affect cats when consumed: 

  • Aloe vera contains ingredients that cause vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • Cut-leaf philodendron can irritate your cat’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Jade plants can cause upset stomach, lethargy and stumbling.
  • Snake plants (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue) can cause an upset stomach, drooling, decreased appetite, lethargy and vomiting. 
  • Sago palms have ingredients that can cause liver failure, upset stomach, seizures, incoordination and weakness. 
  • Lilies (including the whole plant, pollen and water from the vase) are toxic for cats and can cause kidney failure
  • Lily of the valley can cause weakness, upset stomach and heart problems. 
  • Peace lilies can irritate cats’ mouths and gastrointestinal tracts, but don’t cause kidney failure. Other lily variations, like Easter lilies, daylilies, tiger lilies, Asiatic lilies and Japanese show lilies can cause kidney failure.
  • English ivy can cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. 

If you think your cat ate one, or a piece of one, of these houseplants, Dr. McCullough says to contact your veterinarian or pet poison control. 

What flowers are safe for cats? 

Luckily, you don’t have to completely give up flowers either. However, Dr. McCullough reminds cat parents to always check with their veterinarian or pet poison control before planting flowers. Here are some safe blooms you can add to your shopping list the next time you pick up flower seeds or fresh flowers: 

  • Asters
  • Coreopsis
  • Camellia
  • Coral bells
  • Sunflowers
  • Bee balms
  • Snapdragons
  • Creeping zinnia 
  • Roses
  • Petunias

RELATED: Poisonous house and yard plants that aren’t safe for dogs

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What flowers are unsafe for cats to be around? 

While they’re all beautiful, some flowers aren’t safe for cats to ingest. Here’s a list of flowers that Dr. McCullough says you should avoid keeping around your pet and why: 

  • Lantanas contain liver toxins, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and possible liver failure. 
  • Daffodils can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, abnormal or irregular heart rhythms or slow breathing. 
  • Azaleas and rhododendrons can cause upset stomach, heart abnormalities and problems with cats’ nervous systems. 
  • Chrysanthemums contain pesticides, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and decreased appetite.
  • Tulips and hyacinths can cause drooling, nausea, vomiting, increased heart and respiratory rate and difficulty breathing. Dr. McCullough notes the bulbs of these flowers cause more problems than the leaves or flowers themselves.
  • Yew can cause drooling, vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing, severe heart rate and blood pressure abnormalities, tremors, seizures, coma and can even be fatal. 

If your cat starts showing these symptoms after being around any of these flowers, it’s a good idea to contact your veterinarian. 

Can cats eat grass?

Similar to dogs, it’s generally OK for cats to eat grass in small amounts (but make sure it’s free from pesticides, herbicides and other lawn treatments), Dr. McCullough explains. 

“If large amounts of grass are ingested, it may lead to a gastrointestinal blockage,” she adds. “Also, small pieces may be accidentally inhaled and trapped in their respiratory tract.”

How to keep cats away from plants

The best way to prevent your cat from eating or sniffing a poisonous plant is to remove them from your home and backyard, Dr. McCullough says. 

What are some edible plants for cats?

Did you know that catnip is actually a plant? Catnip is an herb from the mint family and is usually safe for cats to eat. You’ll want to talk to your veterinarian first, though. Not all cats love catnip and it can actually heighten aggressive cats’ behavior — so if your cat isn’t a fan of that treat, Dr. McCullough says cat grass, which is grass grown specifically for cats that is free from lawn chemicals, is a safe, cat-friendly plant alternative. 

‍The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo. 

Photo by Magali Merzougui on Unsplash

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