Every responsible cat owner knows that there are lots of plants that are safe and poisonous to cats. We do our due diligence and check to make sure the plants we bring into our homes aren’t on the toxic list.
But just because a plant isn’t listed in the toxic plant list, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe for cats.
My list of safe plants for cats can help you choose the right plant to add to your house, without endangering your precious kitties.
But why should humans get all the fun?
I’ve even included some plants specifically for your cat to enjoy!
Click on a specific plant to jump right to it.
Here is a quick list of common plants that are safe for cats:
- Blue Rose
- Christmas Cactus
- Easter Cactus
- Baby Rubber Plant
- Boston Fern
- African Violet
- Baby’s Tears
- Prayer Plant
- Swedish Ivy
- Wax Plant
- Butterfly Palm
- Burro’s Tail
- Spider Plant
- Zebra Haworthia
- Cast Iron Plant
- Barberton Daisy
- Pleasurable Plants
Why are some plants bad for cats?
Besides the obvious answer of “because they are toxic” there are many reasons why a plant might be considered bad for cats.
- Nutrition needs
- Dangerous toxicity
These are some of the things to consider.
Sometimes the problem isn’t that you didn’t do your research.
Maybe the place you purchased your supposedly safe plants from mislabeled a dangerous plant as a safe one.
You should do your homework and get to know as much about safe and dangerous plants as possible before you bring one home.
I’m happy to help. Here’s a list of some things to look for that you may not have considered before.
A little later, I’ll show you some of my favorite kitty-safe plants.
Poisonous Plants For Cats
Certain plants can cause serious harm to your cat or kitten should they ingest any.
Check out these over at ProFlowers.
Some of these poisonous plants can even kill your cat without much warning. It might be the flowers, the leaves, or the stem that’s poisonous. It could even be the tubers or roots.
Sometimes the toxicity needs to build up.
Either over time with small doses, like a nibble every few days over the course of a few weeks. Other times, it takes only one snack to get the toxic ball rolling.
In either case, your cat is going to suffer.
Knowing which plants are non-toxic to cats will help you avoid a painful, horrifying accident.
I have an in-depth article right here on Catveteran.com that goes over many of the worst offenders.
But toxicity is only one aspect to look at.
Dangerous Plant Shapes and Sizes
It might shock you to know that the shape and size of your plants could pose a danger to your cat.
Many people don’t think about tiny leaves being a choking hazard to young kittens.
As a pet parent, you know kittens will get into everything, and that includes taking a chomp out of a tempting plant.
Even though it may be labeled non-toxic, your kitten could still choke on a tough, difficult to chew, small leaf!
What about the tiny spines on some leaves, stems, and flowers?
They are barely noticeable to humans because we’re so large and our skin is relatively tough.
However, a cat’s mouth is incredibly delicate and sensitive.
Those tiny spines could get stuck in their:
Causing big problems.
That’s a lot of fear over small things, but let’s turn our attention to something bigger.
We all know that cats will jump on, push, and tip over anything.
That includes big, bushy, heavy plants.
It doesn’t take much to tip a large plant over onto a cat, and not all cats will be fast enough to move out of the way.
Don’t think I’m being paranoid here.
I learned this lesson the hard way.
My cat knocked over a heavy dwarf Myer lemon tree a few years back and sprained his front paw!
I’ve since secured that indoor tree and made sure he can’t get hurt, but I wish I’d thought of it sooner.
Be aware of the size and shape of the plants you bring into your home.
What’s safe for your cat may be different than what’s safe for others, so consider your cat’s temperament. As you go through my list.
Dangerous Habitats and Plant Nutrition
A lot of people think you just bring a plant home, stick it in a pot, and water it occasionally.
That’s not going to give you a very healthy plant. You’ll need to feed the plant and make sure its environment is healthy for it.
Unfortunately, some things that are good for certain plants can be dangerous to cats.
You may be surprised to learn that some cats love digging in plant pots.
Check out the type of plant food your plants require and ask your veterinarian if it’s dangerous for your cat.
Another issue could be the environment.
This is a less common problem, but certain cats are more susceptible to overheating high humidity, or excess air flow.
Be sure the plants you choose will not need an environment that is harmful to your particular cat.
Some at-risk cats include young kittens, pregnant queens, and older cats with existing health conditions.
Be especially mindful of cats with respiratory issues.
Which Plants Are Safe For Cats?
I’ve put together a list of safe plants for cats that I’m personally experienced with, that have a safe track record, or have been given the green light by cat health authorities.
I’m including their scientific names, too.
Be sure to check those before you purchase.
I’m going to assume you’ll take your cat’s temperament, activity level, and habits into account while you read this list.
Not all cats will do well with everything listed here, but these plants are generally considered safe for cats.
They are all non-toxic, at the very least. But please also consider the other danger aspects I listed above.
Size, shape, and habitat matter!
And now, my master list of plants that are safe for cats.
Also known as “hen and chicks”, the blue rose is one of my favorite succulents.
Not only is it a beautiful evergreen, but it’s completely safe for my cats to mess around with.
And boy, do they mess with them!
The tight, rose-like coils of blue-green leaves bear beautiful red and yellow flowers in early summer.
There are no sharp and dangerous parts to hurt my cats, and even if they take a nibble, these plants are non-toxic.
I especially appreciate that these succulents don’t seem to mind having a small bite taken out of them.
They simply go on growing without a care in the world.
A nice bonus is that when my cats rub against these, they have a gentle combing motion to help remove loose fur!
The blue rose plant can spread on its own, so it can take over rock gardens and similar places. But it doesn’t grow very tall.
The Christmas cactus is a wildly popular houseplant.
It is exceedingly easy to care for, has beautiful evergreen foliage, and if you treat it right it will reward you with brilliantly beautiful flowers.
The best part about the Christmas cactus is that it is completely safe for cats.
I can’t tell you how many times my cats have munched off a few pieces of my Christmas cactus.
Of course, I did shoo them away. But it wasn’t for their own safety.
I was more worried about my plant!
The poor thing is pock-marked with tiny cat tooth holes.
There are actually several species of cactus that fall under the scientific name Schlumbergera.
People usually refer to them by the time of year that they flower.
So, the Christmas cactus will bloom around Christmas, and the Thanksgiving cactus blooms around Thanksgiving.
They are sometimes called the crab cactus, the link cactus, or the chain cactus.
All of these names refer to the shape of the foliage.
This vibrant and healthy plant can bloom in pink, purple, red, or white.
The flowers also last an inordinately long time.
My cats love to sit by these Easter cactus’s and rub against them.
Of course, it helps that the plants like to sit by windows with indirect sunlight—just like my cats!
Despite their name, the Christmas cactus does not have sharp spines.
This is one of the reasons it is the safest cactus species for cats.
It looks spikey, but it’s not.
The “jagged” edges are really quite soft to the touch, and the leaves are smooth on the top and bottom.
In fact, the leaves are a little squeaky if you rub your fingers down them.
The Christmas cactus can grow to enormous proportions, despite what some websites will have you believe.
My grandmother has one that looks like a small tree!
That’s where mine came from—just one little cutting about 40 years ago is now around 14 inches tall and super bushy.
It grows incredibly slow, so you won’t need to worry about it becoming a monster before your eyes.
These cute little plants are a popular choice for pet parents.
But, be warned.
There are other rubber plants out there which are toxic to cats!
Be sure you’re buying:
- The baby rubber plant
- American rubber plant
- Pepper face plant
- With the scientific name of Peperomia obtusifolia.
The toxic variant is the Ficus elastic or simply called the rubber plant.
You can see why they get confused.
The common names are similar, so be sure to check the scientific name on the tag. If there is no tag, skip that plant. It’s not worth the risk.
The baby rubber plant is a hearty, bushy, bright green plant that thrives in many environments.
However, it does prefer direct sunlight and some warmer temps.
Because of its preferred location near a sunny window, cats will be attracted to them.
These plants can get about 12 inches tall, so they’re not huge.
They don’t pose a tripping hazard for most adult cats, though you should secure all of your plants, just in case.
I know a lot of cat parents who also have a Boston fern in their home.
The reasoning is quite simple: They are safe, non-toxic plants that are usually kept well out of reach of curious kitties.
It helps that these ferns are exceedingly easy to maintain.
Even though they’re easy to keep alive, Boston ferns have a rather specific set of needs.
They prefer a cool place, which usually discourages cats from hanging around.
They also require high humidity and indirect light. I don’t know about you, but my cats don’t appreciate high humidity.
Most of the Boston ferns I’ve seen have been suspended from the ceiling in a pot that’s just too hard for most cats to reach.
Even if your cat gets his chompers on a piece of Boston fern, they are perfectly safe for your cat.
It is important to note that not all ferns are created equally.
Many fern species are highly toxic to cats. However, the Boston fern is both beautiful for humans to look at and safe for cats to mess with.
The Boston fern can grow to a whopping 3 feet in length from front tip to base.
Because of its size, this plant can pose a tipping or toppling danger to cats. Keeping your fern suspended from the ceiling is the best way to prevent accidents.
Some violets are actually edible—they’re called sweet violets.
They’re used in candy-making and certain cuisines. The African violet is not the same as a sweet violet.
However, it’s not toxic if your cat tries to take a sample.
These are delicate plants that do better indoors than out.
They’re sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and they prefer a slightly warmer environment.
That’s one reason cats are attracted to them (kitties like to share the warm spots.)
African violets are popular because they can bloom all year long.
Their soft, velvety leaves are attractive even without flowers to top them off.
Unlike many other plants that appear velvety, the African violet’s “fuzz” is actually soft.
It’s not made of tiny barbs or dangerous prickers. Even so, a cat with a sensitive mouth could have some issues if they took a bite. Most cats should be fine though.
The African violet comes in a variety of sizes, so you can choose one that fits your space and aesthetics.
The smallest is around 3 inches. The largest can get as large as 16 inches.
This plant has an unfortunate name, but it’s still a lovely addition to any household with cats.
It has sweet little leaves and small white flowers, and it loves to creep down the sides of pots and containers.
The tempting tendrils are fun for cats to play with. But don’t worry.
It’s non-toxic and the leaves are usually soft enough to chew up and pass right through.
Be careful of tiny kittens or older cats with dental problems or swallowing issues, however.
You may see it labeled as Helxine soleirolii, but it’s the same species, so it’s safe to purchase.
Get this plant small and watch it grow.
It’s a fast grower, so if you like to fuss with your plants and trim often, this is a good choice.
That also means if your cats nibble the ends off a few tendrils, it’ll be fine.
They’ll grow back before you know it. Maybe you and Kitty can have some fun trimming it together!
Baby’s tears are fairly small plants and stay low to the ground.
You can expect a mature plant to be about 6 inches tall and 6 inches wide.
They can spread quickly though, so keep them potted unless you’d like to use them as a ground cover.
What a unique and exciting addition to any cat lover’s home!
The prayer plant has a long list of other common names; perhaps you’ve heard of the matanta, rattlesnake plant, or zebra plant?
Whatever name it goes by, the prayer plant is a real treat to look at.
At night, the leaves close up and look like little hands held together in prayer.
They’re relatively easy to care for, and just the foliage alone is worth a look.
Bright green with stripes of lighter green gets just a hint of red to help them pop.
These plants can get about 3 feet in height, but their bushy nature tends to keep most cats from trying to climb.
Just in case, secure the pot and check it periodically to prevent tipping and toppling injuries.
Unlike most other ivy plants, the Swedish ivy is non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.
It is sometimes called creeping Charlie, and it’s earned that name!
Like most ivy, this plant likes to climb, crawl and spread.
Swedish ivy is happy in a hanging basket, which will help protect it from curious felines.
However, if you keep it on a shelf or other accessible location, it won’t hurt your fur babies at all.
The main issue would be a toppling danger, but securing the pot will prevent accidents.
This ivy prefers indirect sunlight and lots of moisture, so your cats may avoid it anyway.
They come in a variety of leaf and bloom colors; ask your local garden center what varieties are in stock.
Swedish ivy can get to around 3 feet in length, but I’ve never seen one that large.
The sweet-smelling wax plant is a darling houseplant that adds a bit of interest to your plant collection.
Also called the Hindu rope plant and porcelain flower, the leaves of this plant have a unique shape and texture.
To add more fun, the flowers look like little stars!
This is a creeping plant, so keeping it off the floor is a good idea.
That will tempt playful cats, but it’s okay.
As long as they don’t pull the whole pot down, playing with and eating some of this plant is perfectly harmless.
The wax plant can grow quite large, and since it’s a creeping plant, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of room to let it wander.
Like big, showy, green plants?
The butterfly palm might be just what you’re looking for.
These huge plants can reach up to 6 feet. They are sometimes called the feather palm or areca palm.
While it’s not likely that a cat can topple this plant’s pot, they might like to spend lots of time hiding under the wide, beautiful fronds.
That sounds like the perfect photo op if you ask me!
Most butterfly palms are kept outdoors, but I have seen one in my aunt’s house that is just incredible.
She’s had it almost ten years, so I know this plant has a nice long life.
I have a soft spot for “chubby” plants, and the burro’s tail plant delivers.
The leaves are fat, oblong, and light green, growing down a long and slender stem. This trailing plant is fun to hang in baskets.
Cats love to swat at the “tails”, and if they manage to knock any leaves off, they’re perfectly safe for your cat to eat.
This plant loves the sun, so keep it in a big window.
Just make sure it’s not direct sunlight without any shade.
The flowers come during the summer and are pink, red, and any shade in between.
Don’t overwater this neat plant though.
It can take around 6 years, but the burro’s tail plant can grow to a nice, healthy 4 feet in length.
Because it’s a succulent, it’s full of moisture, which makes a mature burro’s tail very heavy.
Be careful of falling, tipping, and toppling dangers.
I think nearly everyone I know who has cats also has a spider plant. They are very popular due to their ease of care and the fact they are totally safe for cats.
They are sometimes called a ribbon plant, but most people I know, just call them spider plants.
They can get quite large, so make sure you have plenty of space if you plan to keep one in your house.
The plant can be around 2 feet long, and it’s anchored with fleshy roots.
Because this is a trailing plant, most people keep their spider plants elevated on high shelves or in hanging baskets.
Either way, the tendrils will be tempting for silly kitties, so secure the pot well.
This plant is as hearty as its namesake.
I had one for many years that tipped over and got stomped on more times than I can count. It kept on thriving for years after that, showing hardly a scratch.
If you need more proof to its sturdiness, this plant is sometimes called the bar room plant.
It’s an awesome plant for people who often forget to water their plants.
IT doesn’t care about lighting, temperature, or soil conditions.
Truly, this is a “hard to kill plant”.
And that’s a good thing.
Cats love to hide in the foliage and peek out as you walk past. Mature plants can reach around 2 feet in height, but I’ve seen some a little larger, too.
Though this looks like a toxic aloe plant, it’s totally harmless to cats.
It’s one of my favorite succulents.
Sadly, I’ve never been able to keep one alive.
My cats leave it alone, so the untimely demise of these plants is 100% my fault.
They look spikey, but they’re not.
The tips might get a little sharp, but they’re not like big spines that can do any damage.
Those white spots are not spines either—they’re just cute little spots lined up to look like zebra stripes, hence the name.
I wish I could give you some advice to keep your zebra haworthia alive, but I have yet to succeed.
According to experts, they can be tough to keep alive, so don’t try it unless you’re confident in your green thumb.
Some sites will try to tell you they’re easy; I’m going to have to disagree!
They are small plants and grow very slowly.
They don’t love a lot of water, and they’re not fond of cold.
That makes them attractive to most cats, but mine never bothered these plants.
The only danger I see here is sadness when it dies… though my cats were happy to take over this plant’s spot on my windowsill.
Maybe you’ll have better luck.
If you want showy, vibrant flowers to brighten your home, head toward the Barberton daisy.
They come is a wide range of colors, and the blooms can last an impressive 4 weeks or more.
They love the sun, warmth, and well-drained soils.
It’s a mountain flower, so pay close attention to the type of soil in the pot.
The main danger here is to the flower, and not your cat.
The dry, sandy potting mix might be a tempting new litter box for your kitty.
They can be about 2 feet high, but can also get much taller. Species and care will play a big role in how big your Barberton daisies get.
These are not just safe plants for cats, but plants that exist solely for your cat’s pleasure.
I mean, what are we here for, if not to please our feline overlords?
Catnip is the no-brainer, fun time kitty plant.
Everyone knows cats go nuts for catnip, but did you know people can eat it too?
You won’t get the feline high as many cats do, but it’s still a healthy herb you can nibble with your cat.
It’s great in tea, too.
This is another yummy plant you can put in tea, but it can be used in many dishes, too.
Plant some in pots in your home and let your cat nibble away.
Be warned that ingesting large quantities can make some cats feel ill, so give this one as a treat.
Wheatgrass is also called cat grass, and for a good reason.
This aromatic grass is a favorite among felines because it takes good and helps aid digestion.
Cats love mint, but that makes total sense.
Catnip is actually in the mint family, so of course, other mints might be attractive to your cats, too. Plant a variety and see which your cats like best.
Are you noticing a trend in these cat-friendly herbs?
All of these tasty treats are things humans can and should consume, too.
Thyme is delicious on our meals, but cats really like a sprinkle over their food, too.
Not just for garnishing, parsley is a great source of vitamins that may be lacking in your diet.
Whether cats need the extra boost or not is up to their vet, but they sure do love the taste.
Here are even more pleasurable plants that your cats will love: Catster
Want to see more kitty plant ideas?
I found this fun video about creating a garden just for your cats.
Hopefully, this list has helped you select some cat-safe plants for your house.
I know I love that splash of color in my home and the air-cleaning properties of live plants.
My cats like to have lots of different plants to hide in, rub against, and just enjoy, too.
Do you have any favorite cat-safe plants you’d like to share?
Is it OK for cats to eat plants? Yes, cats can eat plants. Just be sure they are non-toxic or won’t post other health and safety risks.
Are plants safe for cats to eat? Catnip, valerian, thyme, cat grass, and honeysuckle are okay for cats to eat. There are many more to try but check with your vet first.