10 Indoor Plants That Are Toxic to Cats

Several common plants are toxic to cats when eaten, including lilies, daffodils, and tulips.

Lindsay Frankel
Written byLindsay Frankel
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Lindsay FrankelInsurance Writer
  • 5+ years in auto insurance and personal finance writing

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Lindsay is a widely published creator of auto insurance content. She also specializes in real estate, banking, credit cards, and other personal finance topics.

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Sarah Archambault
Sarah Archambault
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  • Background working with banks and insurance companies

Sarah enjoys helping people find smarter ways to spend their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans.

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Updated June 13, 2024

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Most cat parents have caught their fur babies chewing on their houseplants. It may be that cats are naturally curious and find it stimulating to chew on leaves, or it may be instinctual due to an evolutionary advantage or nutritional need.

While some plants are safe and even healthy for cats to munch on, others are toxic when ingested. Here’s how to keep your kitty safe from harm.[1]

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10 indoor plants that are toxic to cats

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) provides an extensive list of toxic plants to keep away from cats. Even if you’ve never seen your cat chomping on greenery or drinking water from a vase, it’s a good idea to avoid these 10 toxic indoor plants and any others on the ASPCA’s list.[2]

Lilies

Lilies are some of the most toxic plants for cats and can cause severe symptoms, sometimes resulting in death. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises cat owners to keep felines far away from this plant, even though the exact cause of their toxicity is unknown.[3]

Seek medical attention immediately if you suspect that your cat has chewed or ingested any part of a lily, been exposed to pollen, or sipped on water from a vase containing a lily.

Aloe vera plant

The saponins in the white latex on aloe leaves are toxic to cats, even though the gel inside is considered edible for them. Ingestion can cause lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.

If you decide to keep aloe plants in your home, be sure to keep them in a place your cat can’t reach.

Snake plant

Snake plants are also very popular indoor plants, as they require little maintenance. But the saponins in their leaves are toxic to cats and can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

People often place snake plants on the floor due to their size, so a good way to keep your cat away from them is to spray the plant with a cat-deterrent spray.

Monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa, also known as the cut-leaf philodendron and the Swiss cheese plant, can be toxic to your cat if ingested. It causes problems like oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Try to keep your cat away from your Monstera by placing it out of reach or spraying it with a plant-safe deterrent.

Jade plant

Jade plants, also known as rubber plants, can be quite toxic to cats. If your cat ingests part of the plant, it can experience vomiting, incoordination, and even depression.

These plants are often quite small, so a good way to keep them away from your cat is to place them on a high shelf that your cat can’t reach.

Ficus

The popular ficus plant, also known as a fig, can be dangerous to cats, causing gastrointestinal upset and skin irritation if consumed. This plant is also called a rubber tree or weeping fig.

Pothos

Pothos plants, also known as devil’s ivy, are very common houseplants due to their ease of care. But they contain toxins that can cause oral irritation, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and vomiting if ingested.

A good way to keep your cat away from your pothos is to place it on a high, out-of-reach shelf.

Heartleaf philodendron

The heartleaf philodendron is another common indoor plant that’s quite toxic to cats. It causes mouth pain, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. These plants tend to grow long vines that can dangle.

A good way to keep them away from your cat is to place them on a high shelf and guide the vines to grow along the top of a window frame.

Dumb cane

The giant dumb cane comes with a highly toxic protein as well as insoluble calcium oxalates that can harm your cat. Signs that your cat may have ingested the plant include oral irritation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.

Consider setting this plant out of reach and taking steps to keep your cat away, such as using a nontoxic spray deterrent.

Dracaena

The dracaena, also known as a corn plant or female dragon plant, contains toxic saponin in its leaves. In cats, it can cause hypersalivation and dilated pupils, along with vomiting that may contain blood.

It’s best to avoid this plant or keep it out of reach.

What About Catnip?

The ASPCA warns that catnip is toxic to cats. But many cats enjoy smelling or eating the plant for its psychoactive effect, which may be sedating or stimulating. A small amount of catnip isn’t likely to harm your cat. But large amounts of catnip can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, so use caution.[4]

Toxic flowers to avoid

Cats often enjoy the sweet scent of flowers, but they aren’t always safe plants to have around your cat. Whether you regularly keep a vase of fresh flowers in your home or receive a bouquet as a gift, it’s important to know which varieties are toxic and plan accordingly.

The following flowers may be poisonous to cats:[5]

  • Azalea

  • Bird of paradise

  • Daffodil

  • Honeysuckle

  • Hyacinth

  • Hydrangea

  • Iris

  • Morning glory

  • Tulip

  • Oleander

  • Wisteria

10 outdoor plants that are toxic to cats

Keep outdoor cats away from plants you don’t recognize as safe. Below are some of the most common toxic outdoor plants for cats:[2]

  • Autumn crocus

  • Boxwood

  • Castor bean

  • Emerald fern

  • Eucalyptus

  • Lavender

  • Sago palm

  • Tomato plant

  • Yew

10 indoor plants that are safe for cats

Fortunately, you don’t need to choose between caring for a cat or kitten and keeping plants in your home. Several popular indoor house plants are safe for cats, including:[2]

  • Boston fern

  • Burro’s tail

  • Calathea

  • Cast iron plant

  • Friendship plant

  • Haworthia

  • Money tree

  • Parlor palm

  • Polka dot plant

  • Spider plant

Symptoms of plant toxicity in cats

House plants can cause a range of symptoms when ingested, from mild to severe. Cat owners should keep an eye out for the following, especially if poisonous plants are present in the home:[6]

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite

  • Loss of coordination

  • Lethargy or weakness

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Behavioral changes

  • Excessive drooling

  • Bleeding or bruising

  • Seizures

  • Jaundice, which may be a sign of liver damage

What to do if your cat ingests a toxic plant

If you suspect ingestion or notice any symptoms of plant toxicity in your cat, follow these steps:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/456bd9da2f/phone-call-1.svg

    Get emergency advice

    Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1 (888) 426-4435 right away to get an idea of how to proceed. The Pet Poison Helpline can help you identify the plant your cat ingested and the immediate steps you should take to protect it. Experts are available 24/7, but you may need to pay a consultation fee.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/ef30c81b80/veterinary-96x96-yellow_033-nurse.svg

    Head to the vet

    Depending on the severity of the symptoms, bring your cat to your nearest veterinary hospital or make an appointment with your veterinarian. If you have doubts, seek immediate care.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/1092af49eb/veterinary-96x96-orange_037-eye-dropper.svg

    Collect a sample

    You may want to bring a sample of the plant with you to help the vet with diagnosis and treatment.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/ea882939d1/veterinary-96x96-green_020-medical-report.svg

    Understand the treatment plan

    Treatment for plant toxicity can vary depending on what type of plant your cat ingested and the nature of its symptoms. Make sure you understand the protocol for ongoing treatment, including the dosage of prescription medications.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/95fa30ac35/insurify-icons-auto-orange-96x96_005-insurance.svg

    File a pet insurance claim

    If you have pet insurance with an accident-only or accident and illness pet insurance policy, file a claim with your insurer for reimbursement.

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How to keep your cat away from plants

The best way to keep your cat away from the most toxic plants is to avoid having these plants in your home altogether. Even some hanging plants might not be totally out of reach for the most curious cats. Keep your cat on a leash when heading outside to prevent your furry friend from ingesting any dangerous plants.

If you decide to keep plants that may be toxic to cats in your home, some things you can do to help protect your cat include:

  • Play with your cat. Provide alternative toys and take the time to play with your cat to keep it less interested in your plants.

  • Train your cat. Teach your cat to stay away from house plants by redirecting it toward something else.

  • Use deterrents. Use special sprays to keep your cat away from your plants.

  • Get your cat its own plant. Buy cat grass to keep your cat interested in a plant that isn’t dangerous if ingested.

  • Place unpleasant surfaces near your plants. Some cats don’t like how aluminum foil or spiky plastic feels. Surround your plants with these types of surfaces to help them learn to stay away.

Keep Reading: How Much is a Vet Visit for a Cat?

Keep Reading: How Much is a Vet Visit for a Cat?

Plants that are toxic to cats FAQs

Here’s some additional information about toxic plants to help you keep your home safe for your feline friend.

  • Why do cats eat plants?

    Cats may eat plants for a number of reasons, including boredom and curiosity. They may also eat plants for the nutrients they provide or enjoy the taste or smell.

    Another theory is that eating plants helps cats get rid of intestinal parasites as an evolutionary benefit. Today’s cats may chew on plants instinctually, even if parasites are no longer a real threat.

  • What is the most toxic plant to cats?

    Lilies are the most dangerous plants for cats. Even ingesting lily pollen after licking their coat can result in serious health issues or death.

    Other highly toxic plants include philodendron and pothos (devil’s ivy).

  • What plants should you avoid if you have cats?

    Avoid lilies If you have a curious kitty in your home — especially true lilies and daylilies. Consult the ASPCA list of toxic plants before bringing any new plants into your home or if you’re unsure if your outdoor plants pose a threat.

  • Can cats live with toxic plants?

    It’s not worth the risk. Some cats may not be interested in toxic plants, but you should still keep them out of reach or use a deterrent to prevent your cat from coming into contact with the toxin. The safest solution is to remove toxic plants from your home entirely.

  • Why are so many plants toxic to cats?

    Cats are sensitive to toxins in many plants. Some plants may only cause mild symptoms, while others can be life-threatening. The good news is a wide variety of plants are also completely safe for cats.

Sources

  1. PreventiveVet. "Keeping Your Cat Out of Your Houseplants."
  2. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List - Cats."
  3. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. "Lovely Lilies and Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination."
  4. The Humane Society of the United States. "Crazy for catnip."
  5. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "25 Common Plants Poisonous to Cats."
  6. Texas Humane Network. "Plant Toxicity & Your Pet: What You Need to Know."
Lindsay Frankel
Lindsay FrankelInsurance Writer

Lindsay Frankel is a content writer specializing in personal finance and auto insurance topics. Her work has been featured in publications such as LendingTree, The Balance, Coverage.com, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, and FinanceBuzz.

Sarah Archambault
Sarah Archambault
  • Experienced personal finance writer

  • Background working with banks and insurance companies

Sarah enjoys helping people find smarter ways to spend their money. She covers auto financing, banking, credit cards, credit health, insurance, and personal loans.

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