You can have cats or houseplants, but not both – right? Wrong! Turns out there are quite a few houseplants that are non-toxic to cats, so with a little planning, you can have the best of both worlds.
We hear a lot about toxic houseplants, along with warnings to keep cats well away from them. But are there any houseplants that kitties can safely co-exist safely with, even if they nibble a leaf or a flower now and then? Turns out there are more than you might think. And now that the days are getting cooler and shorter, and we’re spending more time inside, there’s no better season to build a cat-friendly indoor garden.
A quick Google search will throw up a huge list of so-called cat-friendly houseplants, but be sure you get your info from a reputable source. There’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet about all topics, and toxic and non-toxic houseplants are among them. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers an exhaustive list of both types of plants. In this article, we’ll provide a glossary of eight of the most common, so you and your feline friend can start creating your indoor oasis as autumn advances.
1. African violet
This old-fashioned favorite comes in a wide range of floral colors, from white and pink to maroon and violet. They don’t like direct sun, but will do well in a north- or east-facing window.
A symbol of good luck, the bamboo plant can be found at most places where houseplants are sold. It can grow in water, and is often sold in a container filled with pebbles rather than soil, so the root base is in direct contact with moisture at all times. Keep bamboo in a bright area, but away from direct sunlight.
3. Boston fern
While some ferns aren’t toxic to cats, others are, so it’s important to get the right variety. The Boston fern is a safe choice. This beautiful feathery plant likes a cool environment with high humidity and indirect light. If your house gets dry in the winter, you can raise the humidity around your fern by placing it on a tray of pebbles filled with water, and by misting it once or twice a week.
Don’t forget to include a pot of cat grass in your indoor garden! It provides healthy greens for your kitty, and helps deter him from nibbling your other plants.
4. Christmas cactus
As the name implies, the Christmas cactus blooms during the holiday season. Keep it out of direct sunlight most of the year, although know that the weaker winter sun is less likely to harm it.
5. Bottle palm
As with ferns, some palms are toxic to cats, while others aren’t. The sago palm is definitely toxic, for example, so steer clear of that one. Opt for the bottle palm instead. Though mostly grown outdoors in warm climates, it can also grow indoors in a container. Make sure it has lots of bright light. Let the soil dry thoroughly between watering.
6. Hens and chicks
Succulents have become very popular in recent years, and hens and chicks are a cat-friendly variety. A rock garden standby during the summer, they can also be grown indoors in shallow planters. They need direct sunlight, and do better with minimal watering.
7. Phalaenopsis orchid
Orchids are another trendy favorite, but again, you need to make sure the variety you purchase is safe for your cat. Also called the moth orchid, the Phalaenopsis orchid is one to look for. Keep the plant out of direct sunlight, and water sparingly.
8. Spider plant
Among the most familiar houseplants, spider plants are easy to grow and do well in low light. A bonus is that they help purify the air inside the home. Because they send out trailing plantlets, they make an attractive hanging plant.
There’s nothing nicer than growing your own culinary herbs indoors during the cold weather months. Even better, many herbs are safe for cats. They include:
Most herbs need lots of sun, so put your herb plants in a south-facing window if you can.
There are many additional non-toxic houseplants to choose from – for a complete list, visit aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list. In the meantime, these will get you started on bringing the outdoors in — the cat-friendly way!