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Plants can add life and natural beauty to an indoor space. Not only do they enhance your decor, but indoor plants can also improve moods, reduce stress, boost creativity, and eliminate air pollutants — making you healthier and happier. But if you have a cat, you must take extra care to choose cat-safe houseplants for your home.
Indoor plants attract cats for a variety of reasons. Playing with a houseplant can fulfill feline instincts. Occasionally, cats go beyond playing and eat houseplants just because they’re bored or because they’re attracted to the leaves fluttering in the wind.
Consuming plants can be dangerous for your kitty, causing upset stomachs, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal obstructions. When you share your home with a feline friend, it’s important to research which plants can poison your pets and which ones they can play with safely. Here’s what pet owners need to watch for to keep their pets safe.
Pet insurance can help cover the cost of emergency veterinary bills for cats who’ve ingested something they shouldn’t. Compare quotes from multiple pet insurance companies to find the plan that’s best for you.
While some plants are mildly toxic to cats, causing dermatitis or a burning sensation to the mouth or tongue, others can cause liver failure and even death. If you want to know more about plants that could harm your furry friend, the ASPCA has a comprehensive list of plants that are toxic to cats.
Lillies, including Easter lilies, peace lilies, and daylilies
Here are some of the best houseplants for pet owners with feline friends, as well as instructions on how to care for them.
The easy care of spider plants makes them a popular option for households with cats. They can also improve air quality by removing formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, and carbon monoxide from your home.
Care instructions: Spider plants thrive in nearly any condition and can withstand neglect, making them an excellent option for beginners. Medium-to-bright sun, average humidity, and cool-to-average temperatures work best for this plant. Spider plants grow quickly and need frequent repotting to avoid overcrowded roots.
You can achieve a pop of color throughout the year with African violets. This small plant is ideal for windowsills, tabletops, and hanging baskets.
Care instructions: African violets require bright, indirect light. Let the soil dry slightly between waterings in spring, summer, and fall, and water even less in the winter. Watering from the bottom is best done with warm water, as cold water can damage the leaves and cause brown spots.
Cat grass is grown indoors specifically for pets. It can deter cats from playing with other houseplants and is an attractive addition to your home. Plus, it can help a cat’s digestion and prevent hairball buildup if your cat eats it regularly.
Care instructions: Cat grass thrives in natural light and with daily watering. If you start from seeds, keep it damp until you see sprouts (in about three to seven days), then use less water. The grass will last up to three weeks.
Red prayer plant
The red prayer plant has variegated leaves that add a decorative flair to any cat-safe home. Its leaves, which can vary from gray-green to purple-green, fold at night to resemble praying hands. Also called a herringbone plant, it offers low maintenance while adding style.
Care instructions: Place your red prayer plant in bright, indirect light and keep potting soil moist throughout the spring, summer, and fall. During the winter months, allow the soil to become dry to the touch.
The perfect indoor plant for cat parents, the Boston fern thrives in hanging baskets, raised containers, or on plant stands. This allows the fronds to hang easily downward and keeps the plant out of reach from your furry feline.
Care instructions: As a tropical plant, the Boston fern prefers humid environments between 65 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It also likes moisture-retaining soil and regular fertilization when actively growing.
Cast iron plant
A cast iron plant is an excellent option if you aren’t known for your “green thumb.” It’s drought-tolerant and can handle neglect, so much so that it’s also called a “barroom plant.” The plant prefers low light, and it can grow well in bedrooms.
Care instructions: The cast iron plant is a hardy houseplant that can grow in various soil textures. For the best results, avoid direct sun and use well-drained soil, providing regular watering in spring, summer, and fall.
The parlor palm is a perfect floor plant, growing up to seven feet tall. Also called the bamboo palm, it made the list of top air-cleaning plants in NASA’s clean air study.
Care instructions: Place your parlor palm in bright, indirect light near a north- or east-facing window, if possible. Be careful not to overwater. Instead, let the soil dry slightly in between waterings.
If you enjoy succulents, the haworthia zebra is a great addition to your home. Sometimes called the zebra cactus, the dainty plant gets its name from its dark green and white striped leaves. Its narrow and slender size helps to dress up even the smallest of areas in your home.
Care instructions: Haworthia zebra plants prefer little sun and soil that isn’t too wet. Water sparingly, as overwatering can lead to root rot.
Swedish ivy grows into a lush green plant. It looks best in a hanging basket, which allows the branches to drape elegantly over the sides as it grows. With a Swedish ivy plant, you can enjoy white or light purple blooms at different times of the year.
Care instructions: Keep your Swedish ivy in a location with plenty of bright light but away from direct sun. Water regularly, but only when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch, and prune by pinching back the stems to encourage new growth.
Calathea rattlesnake plant
The rattlesnake plant gets its name from the bright yellow leaves resembling a rattlesnake tail that grows among the large green leaves. It provides visual interest by raising and lowering its leaves from day to night.
Care instructions: The rattlesnake plant prefers limited sun and a moist environment with temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it can’t tolerate full sun, drafts, or sudden temperature changes, it can be difficult to maintain.
Besides being a safe houseplant for cats, a venus flytrap is one of the best houseplants for kids. They’ll enjoy watching this carnivorous plant snap shut on houseflies and other bugs.
Care instructions: Venus flytraps enjoy sun-to-partial shade and do best in wet, sandy soil. A planting mix of whole-fiber sphagnum moss or equal parts peat moss and vermiculite or sharp sand will do the trick.
For a houseplant that you can take outside in the summer, gloxinia offers velvety green leaves year-round and bright blooms in the spring.
Care instructions: Gloxinia needs bright, but not direct, light and constant moisture when indoors. Remove flowers after blooming so new flowers can form. After the second bloom, cut back on watering and put plants in a dark, cool location before pulling them out for new life.
Ponytail palms resemble a plume from a water fountain and can brighten up any sunny window. They even do well in colder climates, as the dry indoor heated air doesn’t phase the hardy plant.
Care instructions: Ponytail palms need plenty of bright light, so placing them on a window sill or plant stand in front of a window is best. Water your plant regularly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings and reducing water in the winter.
For a bright pop of color at any time of year, a Brazilian orchid can add beauty to any room. Its small size makes it ideal for apartments and smaller homes.
Care instructions: Although delicate, Brazilian orchids are one of the easiest orchids to tend to at home. They need quick-draining soil, high humidity, and warm temperatures. Place in an east- or west-facing window and avoid direct sun.
White, red, and pink flowers with a long bloom time make the Christmas cactus a popular houseplant. It’s simple to care for as it can adapt to various environments.
Care instructions: Avoid too much bright sun during the summer months. However, in fall and winter, your Christmas cactus enjoys full sunlight. Starting in September, give your plant at least 14 hours of continuous darkness each day to encourage flowering.
The friendship plant has small green and pink flowers. It sends up multiple off-shoots, making it easy to put new plants in a pot and share with your friends.
Care instructions: You'll be amazed at how easy it is to care for a friendship plant. Bright, indirect light can help it flourish. You should provide water often during the growing season and less during fall and winter.
Also known as the American or baby rubber plant, the peperomia is a bushy indoor shrub that can grow up to two inches tall. It makes a great desktop plant for a home office.
Care instructions: While peperomia prefers bright, indirect light, it can handle low light for long periods. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves. Keep the soil only slightly moist — soil that’s too wet or dry can stress the plant.
A braided trunk makes the money tree a unique option for a houseplant. Additionally, it could be a good luck charm — many believe the money tree will bring positive energy and prosperity to your home.
Care instructions: Money tree plants thrive in a mixture of peat moss, pebbles, vermiculite, and river sand, similar to the soil you’d use for succulents and cacti. It creates well-draining soil that can reduce the likelihood of root rot. You can prune your tree and continue to braid its stems to shape its growth, but you should transplant it every two or three years.
Polka dot plant
The polka dot plant sports green leaves with white or bright pink spots. It makes a good potted houseplant but can also add color to dish gardens, window boxes, or patio containers.
Care instructions: Although some sun is okay, your polka dot plant will do best in filtered light and develop better color in partial shade. Water the plant often and mist the leaves indoors during dry winter months.
Valerian has a sweet vanilla smell and contains a compound called actinidine that acts as a stimulant for cats. Even if your kitty doesn’t respond to catnip, it may react positively to valerian.
Care instructions: The flowering plant grows best in environments with full sun, but partial sun is also okay for valerian. The stems may become droopy without enough sun. It prefers moist soil, so make sure to water your plant often.
Gerbera daisies are vibrant, showy plants. When brought indoors, their bright blooms can add long-lasting pops of color any time of the year.
Care instructions: You can leave gerbera daisies outside during the summer, but bring your plant indoors in the winter. Provide frequent watering to moisten the soil, but make sure it drains well to avoid root rot.
Add alyssum to your collection of pet-friendly plants for a sweet fragrance and delicate flowers. It’s a tough, easy-to-grow plant that looks great in a container, hanging basket, or window box.
Care instructions: Your dainty alyssum will soak up full sun but can also thrive in partial shade. Take time to cut back the plants to keep them flowering throughout the summer.
Keeping an indoor garden to grow your kitchen herbs is safe for your kitty. While you probably don't want your cat to play with herbs you intend to use in cooking, basil, rosemary, and thyme are harmless to cats.
Care instructions: Herb plants love direct light, so keeping them near a window to give them six to eight hours a day will help them grow. You should also water your herb garden regularly, but be careful not to overwater — you may cause root rot.
The mosaic plant thrives in bright-to-medium light. It also does well under fluorescent lights, so it’s an excellent option for your office. For color, it boasts red, pink, or white veins that decorate the green leaves.
Care instructions: Put your mosaic plant in bright-to-medium light for best results, and water it regularly. Your houseplant can be dramatic if you skip your watering routine. But give it a drink, and it'll perk right back up like nothing ever happened.
The wax plant is common in many households. The long, slender vines have waxy, deep green leaves and can produce round clusters of white or light pink flowers in the spring or summer when given enough light.
Care instructions: You’ll have the best results with your wax plant if you put it in partial shade, although it can withstand direct sunlight for two to six hours daily. Mist your plant frequently, but wait for the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.
Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.