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30 Houseplants Which are Toxic to Cats

Understanding the Potential Dangers of Houseplants for Cats

A comprehensive guide to understanding the dangers of houseplants for cats. The post covers 30 toxic houseplants, including Monstera, Golden Pothos, Peace Lily, and more, with alternatives for a cat-friendly home. Information on plant toxicity, symptoms, prevention, and emergency actions if ingestion occurs. The post empowers cat owners to make informed choices for a safe and harmonious environment.

If you're into houseplants and care about the safety of your cats, you've come to the right place!

Indoor plants make wonderful additions to any home, providing beauty, a sense of responsibility and benefits such as air purification. 

While many houseplants are considered safe for pets, there are many which can pose a threat to your furry friends. 

In this article, we will cover 30 different houseplants which have been listed as toxic (or caution advised) by Cats Protection and/or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). 

All of these houseplants could cause adverse reactions if ingested by felines, therefore, it's critical to keep these plants away from your cats and opt for cat-safe plant varieties instead.

Plant toxicity varies greatly, and while some of the plants listed in this post may only cause mild reactions if nibbled on by your cats, some are so toxic they can induce serious complications, including breathing difficulties, heart problems, and, in severe cases, fatalities. 

By learning which common houseplants can threaten your cat's safety, you can effectively protect them from the effects of toxic houseplants. 

Can You Keep Toxic Houseplants in a Home with Cats

Cats Protection advises avoiding toxic houseplants in areas accessible to cats altogether to prevent plant poisoning.

If your cat has never shown interest in biting or playing with your houseplants, you might not be concerned about bringing home a potentially poisonous plant. 

However, cats are curious creatures, and they may one day decide to investigate and play with the plants or bite the leaves, which could lead to ingestion and poisoning. 

Therefore, it is always better to err on the side of caution and avoid bringing toxic plants into your home if you have a cat.

When it comes to cautionary advised houseplants (meaning they are not necessarily listed as toxic, but still have the potential to harm your cat if ingested), it's vital to keep these plants out of reach of cats to prevent nibbling or to avoid them entirely and opt for non-toxic plants instead.

Are Cat-Safe/Non-Toxic Houseplants Safe for Cats to Chew?

So, let's say you've opted to make your home a cat-safe-plant-only zone. Does that automatically mean it's safe for your cat to nibble on the leaves of these cat-friendly plants? Unfortunately, the answer is not necessarily.

Even non-toxic plants can cause adverse reactions if your cat consumes too much of the plant material. 

Therefore, if your cat is prone to chewing on the leaves of your plants, it's best to move them into an unreachable area, even if they are non-toxic.

Here are some tips to keep your cats safe around non-toxic houseplants:

  • Strategic Placement: Place plants out of reach or use hanging planters to make it challenging for curious cats to access them.

  • Stimulate Alternatives: Provide alternative sources of stimulation like scratching posts and interactive toys to divert their attention from houseplants.

  • Vigilance is Key: Even with non-toxic plants, monitor your cat's behaviour around them. If they show interest or start to nibble the foliage, put the plant in an unreachable spot.

  • Consult a Vet: If you observe any unusual symptoms in your cat or suspect ingestion of a non-toxic plant, consult with your veterinarian promptly.

How to Identify Toxic and Non-Toxic Houseplants and Keep Your Cat Safe

The only way to ensure the safety of your cat is to choose your houseplants wisely and opt for cat-friendly houseplants that are non-toxic to cats and ensure you conduct thorough research into the safety of the plant. 

Both Cats Protection and the ASPCA provide lists of toxic and non-toxic houseplants. Use these lists to determine whether your indoor plants are safe for your kitty. If the plant is not listed as toxic OR non-toxic, it's best to, again, err on the side of caution and assume it could harm your cat.

When purchasing new houseplants, ensure to check their labels and research their names before introducing them to a home with resident cats. This step is crucial because houseplants may share similar appearances but belong to completely different species. While one plant might be non-toxic to cats, another that looks very similar could be toxic.

Furthermore, remember that not all plants in the same family are safe for pets. Even if one plant variety is deemed safe, it doesn't necessarily mean that every plant in that family is safe too. 

Take the Boston Fern for example - it's a non-toxic plant for cats. However, assuming that all Ferns are safe for cats would be a mistake. Certain Fern varieties like the Asparagus Fern can actually be toxic to our feline friends.

30 Houseplants Which are Toxic to Cats

1: Monstera (Monstera deliciosa)

Vibrant Monstera plant with unique, fenestrated leaves. Caution advised for cat owners due to potential toxicity.
  • Also known as the Swiss Cheese Plant

The Monstera plant is a popular houseplant due to its unique and attractive leaves. Its tropical appearance makes it a wonderful choice for those trying to create an indoor jungle.

However, it is important to note that Monstera plants can be toxic to cats.

The leaves of the Monstera contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and discomfort if ingested by cats. Symptoms of toxicity may include drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and oral irritation. 

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Monstera: Calathea Orbifolia (Calathea spp.)

2: Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

 Variegated Golden Pothos plant, popular for its trailing vines. Toxic to cats; consider cat-safe alternatives.
  • Also known as Devil's Ivy

Golden Pothos is a popular houseplant, appreciated for its two-tone, variegated leaves and low maintenance levels. 

While it may be visually appealing, it's important to note that Golden Pothos can be toxic to cats.

The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and discomfort if ingested by our feline friends. Symptoms of toxicity in cats may include drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and oral irritation. 

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Golden Pothos: Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)

3: Philodendron Xanadu (Philodendron bipinnatifidum Xanadu)

 Exotic Philodendron Xanadu with glossy, deeply lobed leaves. Toxic to cats; choose cat-friendly alternatives.
  • Also known as Winterbourn

The Philodendron Xanadu is a common houseplant known for its exotic aesthetic with glossy and deeply lobed leaves. 

Though tropical beauties, all Philodendron species are listed as toxic to cats by Cat’s Protection.

Philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation and swelling in cats if chewed or licked. 

Symptoms of ingestion include drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and oral pain.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Philodendron Xanadu: Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

4: Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Striking Bird of Paradise plant with vibrant orange and blue flowers. Beware of toxicity to cats.
  • Also known as the Crane Flower

Bird of Paradise is a stunning tropical plant known for its vibrant orange and blue flowers that resemble the plumage of a bird.

While it adds an exotic touch to any garden or indoor space, it's important to be aware of its toxicity to cats.

The Bird of Paradise contains compounds that can be harmful if ingested by our feline friends. 

Symptoms of poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, and difficulty breathing.

  • Cat-Friendly alternative to Bird of Paradise plants: Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

5: Elephant's Ear (Alocasia spp.)

Elephant's Ear plant with large, vibrant leaves resembling an elephant's ear. Caution for cat owners due to potential toxicity.

Named after its large, vibrant leaves that resemble the shape of an elephant's ear, the Elephant Ear plant is a popular choice for indoor spaces.

However, it is important to note that while the Elephant Ear plant may be visually appealing, it can pose a potential threat to our feline friends.

The leaves and stems of the Elephant Ear plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and discomfort if ingested by cats.

These crystals can cause symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and in severe cases, even respiratory distress.

  • Cat-Friendly alternative to Elephant’s Ear plants: Calathea Medallion (Calathea spp.)

5: Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)

Aloe Vera plant, known for health benefits. Toxic to cats; consider safer alternatives like Zebra Cactus.

The Aloe Vera plant, although widely recognised for its numerous health benefits for humans, such as treating sunburn, can actually be toxic to cats.

This is because it contains certain compounds known as anthraquinones, including aloin and barbaloin, which can cause gastrointestinal upset and potentially lead to liver damage in felines.

  • Cat-Friendly alternative to Aloe Vera plants: Zebra Cactus (Haworthia)

6: Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

Delicate Asparagus Fern with feathery foliage. Toxic to cats; opt for cat-friendly Maidenhair Fern.
  • Also known as Lace Fern

The Asparagus Fern is a popular houseplant known for its delicate, feathery appearance.

Unlike many ferns which are cat-friendly, the Asparagus Fern is a variety which can indeed be toxic to cats.

The berries and foliage of the Asparagus Fern contain sapogenins, which can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested by our feline friends.

Symptoms of toxicity in cats may include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and even difficulty breathing in severe cases.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Asparagus Fern: Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

7: Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.)

Elegant Peace Lily with white blooms. Caution for cat owners; may cause irritation and discomfort.
  • Also known as Spathe Flower

The Peace Lily, although known for its air-purifying abilities, is unfortunately toxic to cats. This means that if a cat ingests any part of the plant, it can lead to various health issues.

The toxicity of the Peace Lily is primarily due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in its leaves and stems.

When a cat chews or bites into these parts, these crystals are released and can cause irritation and inflammation in the mouth, tongue, and throat. This can result in symptoms such as drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and even respiratory distress in severe cases.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Peace Lily: Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

8: Stargazer Lily (Lilium orientalis)

Vibrant Stargazer Lily with colorful petals. Highly toxic to cats; seek cat-friendly alternatives like Orchids.
  • Also known as Oriental Lily

Stargazer Lilies, with their vibrant colours and strong fragrance, are a popular choice for home decoration and gifting.

However, cat owners should be aware that these beautiful flowers are highly toxic to felines.

Ingesting any part of the Stargazer Lily can lead to serious health issues for cats. Even drinking water from a vase of lilies can harm your kitty.

The toxicity of Stargazer Lilies is primarily due to the presence of lycorine, which is a type of alkaloid found in the petals and leaves of the plant.

When cats ingest or even come into contact with this plant, it can cause a range of symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and even kidney failure in severe cases.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Stargazer Lily: Orchids (Orchidaceae)

9: Corn Plant (Dracaena Fragrans)

Corn Plant with tall, slender leaves. Not cat-friendly; contains compounds causing gastrointestinal upset.
  • Also known as Cornstalk

The Corn Plant is another common houseplant known for its air-purifying properties. 

Sadly, this beautiful plant is not cat-friendly due to the presence of saponins, which are chemical compounds found in the plant. 

Saponins can cause gastrointestinal upset, including symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, and diarrhoea if ingested by cats.

Additionally, corn plants contain compounds called phenols, which can also contribute to the plant's toxicity. Ingesting parts of the corn plant, especially the leaves or other plant material, can lead to adverse reactions in cats.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Corn Plant: Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

10: Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

Chinese Evergreen, a houseplant thriving in low-light conditions. Considered toxic to cats due to insoluble calcium oxalates. Cat-friendly alternative: Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides).
  • Also known as Lily of China

Another popular houseplant is the Chinese Evergreen, known for its ability to thrive in low-light conditions and purify the air.

Though beautiful, the Chinese Evergreen is considered toxic to cats due to the presence of compounds in the plant that can be harmful when ingested. 

Therefore, it's best to keep this houseplant away from your kitties. 

The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which can irritate the mouth, tongue, and throat if chewed or bitten by cats. 

Ingesting parts of the Chinese Evergreen can lead to symptoms such as drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and oral irritation.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Chinese Evergreen: Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

11: Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

Succulent Jade Plant, popular for its desert chic appearance. Toxic to cats; consider safe alternatives like Christmas Cactus.
  • Also known as Money Plant

Jade plants, which are succulents that come in various kinds, are quite popular these days. 

With their alluring appearance that suits the desert chic interior design style, these plants are known for their low water requirements and are considered a symbol of good fortune in certain cultures.

Unfortunately for cat owners, the ASPCA lists Jade plants as toxic to cats if ingested.

These succulents contain compounds known as bufadienolides, which can cause adverse reactions if ingested by cats. These reactions may include vomiting, lethargy, and, in severe cases, more serious symptoms.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Jade Plant: Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

12: Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Succulent Jade Plant, popular for its desert chic appearance. Toxic to cats; consider safe alternatives like Christmas Cactus.
  • Also known as Mother-in-law's tongue

A low-maintenance and aesthetically appealing houseplant is the Snake Plant. Known for its upright, yellow-edged leaves, it's also a succulent. 

Like many succulents, the Snake Plant is toxic to cats.

This is because it contains compounds such as saponins that, when ingested, can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Snake Plant: Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

13: Calla Lily (Zantedeschia spp.)

Elegant Calla Lily with trumpet-shaped blooms. Highly toxic to cats; opt for safer alternatives like Lipstick Plant.
  • Also known as Arum Lily

The Calla Lily is a flowering houseplant, known for its trumpet-shaped blooms and air-purifying qualities. They are also associated with symbolic meanings such as purity and rebirth.

Sadly, like most lily varieties, Calla Lily plants are very toxic to cats if ingested. 

All parts of the Calla Lily are poisonous to felines. They contain oxalate crystals, which, when ingested, can lead to symptoms such as oral irritation, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. 

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Calla Lily: Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus radicans)

14: Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)

Exotic Desert Rose with bulbous trunk and trumpet-shaped flowers. Toxic to cats; consider Flowering Rose as an alternative.
  • Also known as Karoo Rose

Like the Calla Lily, the Desert Rose is another flowering houseplant known for its exotic appearance, featuring a bulbous trunk, trumpet-shaped flowers and glossy leaves.

Sadly, the Desert Rose plant is toxic to cats. 

It contains compounds that, when ingested, can cause gastrointestinal upset, including symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea. In severe cases, it may lead to more serious health issues. 

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Desert Rose: Flowering Rose (Rosa)

15: Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia maculata)

Unique Polka Dot Begonia with spotted, angel-wing-shaped leaves. Toxic to cats; choose Strawberry Begonia instead.
  • Also known as Clown Begonia

A popular and unique-looking houseplant is the Polka Dot Begonia. Recognised for its distinctive, angel-wing-shaped, spotted leaves, this type of Begonia makes an aesthetically pleasing addition to a tropical houseplant collection.

Unfortunately, the Polka Dot Begonia is considered toxic to cats. 

It contains substances that, if ingested by cats, may lead to symptoms such as oral irritation, excessive drooling, and digestive issues. 

  • Cat-Friendly Alternative to Polka Dot Begonia: Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera)

16: ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Hardy ZZ Plant, tolerant of low-light conditions. Mildly toxic to cats; caution advised, consider Watermelon Peperomia.
  • Also known as Emerald Palm 

The ZZ Plant is another popular indoor plant known for its hardiness. Tolerant of low-light conditions and irregular watering, the ZZ plant is often favoured by houseplant enthusiasts.

While the ZZ Plant is not listed on toxic plant databases, it is considered mildly toxic to cats. Therefore, Cat's Protection recommends being cautious when keeping ZZ plants in a home with felines. 

The plant contains substances that, if ingested by cats, may lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, or oral irritation. 

Therefore, it's advisable to keep ZZ Plants out of reach of cats. In case of suspected ingestion, seeking prompt veterinary advic