Indoor Plants That Are Safe for Cats

by Rob Hainer, Demand Media
    Your favorite plants might not be safe for your cat to eat.

    Your favorite plants might not be safe for your cat to eat.

    Cats don't just stick to the food you provide when they feel like a snack. Cats often munch on plants and grasses as well, which can pose a health hazard if your indoor plants are toxic to cats. Keep your kitty safe by choosing plants that aren't poisonous to her.

    Just for Cats

    If your cat enjoys nibbling on plants, grow some especially for her. Catnip doesn't just come inside cat toys; you can grow it in small pots at home. Cats also enjoy valerian, which can help them sleep. Some cats eat these two plants too quickly, but you can keep your kitty occupied with grasses such as rye or cat grass, which you can find at most pet stores. Herbs such as parsley and thyme produce pleasant fragrances as your cat chews the leaves. A benefit of these cat-attracting plants is that they can help keep your cats out of your other house plants; your cat might have no need to chew decorative house plants with catnip easily accessible.

    Other Safe Plants

    There's a variety of house plants that are safe for cats, both blooming and green plants. Ferns such as the Boston fern and maidenhair fern are safe, as are most palms. Blooming plants such as the African violet, African daisy, and orchids won't harm your cat if she takes a bite. Safe green plants include coleus, corn plant, dracaena and spider plant. Some plants, such as a poinsettia and wandering Jew, have sap that can irritate a cat's digestive system if she consumes part of the stem, but eating the leaves doesn't normally cause problems.

    Dangerous Plants

    It's best to familiarize yourself with plants that are dangerous for cats so you can avoid them in your home. These plants can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea or death. Stay away from plants such as English ivy (although Swedish ivy is safe), lantana, most varieties of lilies, peace lilies, pothos and schefflera.

    Considerations

    Cats are agile and can reach places you might not consider, such as the top of a china cabinet or a windowsill. Don't assume you've put a toxic plant out of reach of your cat; she can likely find a way to reach it. It's best to keep them out of the house. Some cats don't just eat house plants, but they also dig or defecate in the soil. To discourage this, sprinkle citrus peels on top of the soil every three or four days, as cats don't like the smell of citrus. This is a natural solution that won't harm your pet or your plants.

    About the Author

    Rob Hainer began writing and editing for newspapers in 1992. He began his career as a photojournalist in the Army, and studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He worked as a copy editor and reporter at "The Marietta Daily Journal," the "Spartanburg Herald-Journal" and the "New Haven Register."

    Photo Credits

    • A cat laying in the garden. image by Saskia Massink from Fotolia.com