Ask a Master Gardener: Choose houseplants that won't poison your cat
Q: I have a cat who likes to nibble on my plants. What houseplants are safe for me to grow?
A: There are a number of common houseplants that are toxic to cats, including:
- ZZ plant
- Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
- Pothos (multiple varieties)
- Aloe vera
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Cutleaf Philodendron (Monstera deliciosa)
- Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia spp.)
It's a good idea to look up your houseplants, so you know which ones are safe, and which are not. If you discover that you own a toxic plant, it's best to move it. Either re-home the plant, bring it to the office, or otherwise ensure that your cat will not be able to access it. You can replace toxic plants with something safer, such as:
- Cast Iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)
- Spider plant (Anthericum comosum)
- Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)
- African violet (Saintpaulia spp.)
- Phalaenopsis orchids (Phalaenopsis sp.)
- Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis)
- Rabbit's Foot fern (Davallia spp.)
- Goldfish plant (Hypocyrta nummularia)
- Polka Dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
- Prayer plant (Calathea insignis)
Another alternative for cats that like to chew on greens is to grow a pot of wheatgrass just for your pet to eat. Wheatgrass is available at some pet stores and grocery stores. Once the grass is 2 to 3 inches tall, place the pot in an easily accessible area. With any kind of luck, your cat will choose the grass rather than the houseplants. If it works, you can start a new batch every few weeks.
Note that even if a plant is not toxic, eating it may make your pet throw up. And note that the list of toxic plants is not the same for dogs as it is for cats. If you aren't certain if a plant is toxic for your pets, ask your veterinarian, or refer to the ASPCA guide here: aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants.
Further resources are available here:
Written by University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners in St. Louis County. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.