Toxic Houseplants – Don’t Bring These Around Your Cats!

If you are a cat owner, you know the joy and love cats can bring into your life. The worst thing imaginable would be harming your cat in any way. After all, they are living, breathing souls. One of the most common ways that people accidentally harm their cats is by bringing toxic houseplants into their space or planting plants in their yard that can kill cats.

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Of course, no loving cat owner buys a plant knowing it could harm their cat. They just don’t think about which plants may harm their cats, and they might not know which plants to choose. 

This post will help you figure out which plants you can’t buy, or should get rid of, if you have cats that you want to keep safe. It will also provide alternatives to each toxic plant that you might like as a safe replacement. Keep in mind that these are not direct swaps of plants that are exactly the same, but ideas that draw from similar features of each beautiful houseplant.

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Toxic Plant for Cats: Pothos

Pothos plants are a common choice for hanging potted plants that have dangling leaves. They come in all different varieties, so not every pothos looks the same. Unfortunately, these are toxic to cats, and if your cat swallows a leaf, they could be in danger. These plants can be tempting to cats because of their dangling leaves.

Alternative Safe Plant: Boston Fern

Beautiful potted Boston fern plant safe for cats.

Swap your toxic pothos for a Boston fern! These make amazing plants for hanging baskets, and they have beautiful arching branches and leaves that are perfectly cat-safe and not as enticing to bat with their paws.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Aloe Vera

I regret to inform you that aloe vera plants, the popular succulents with great health benefits, are unsafe for cats. While they look very cute in your space, they are not safe for your furry friends. It is best to opt for a different plant.

Alternative Safe Plant: Howarthia (Zebra plant)

Zebra plant on the ground that is safe for cats.

Zebra plants are another beautiful succulents with triangular leaves somewhat similar in shape to aloe leaves. Instead of spots, they have stripes, which make them stand out from other similar succulents. They are a sturdy plant that adds some angular greens to your home or office space, without taking up too much of your counter or desk. They require little care, similar to aloe, which means they are perfect for someone who kills all their plants but wants their cat to be safe.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Jade Plant

Jade plants are another succulents option with thick, juicy leaves and a dark green color. They are unfortunately unsafe for cats. 

Alternative Safe Plant: Echeveria

Echeveria are another type of succulents that are known for their thick, liquid-filled leaves. They stand in columns, similarly to jade plants, and their care and propagation are both very easy. If you’re mourning the loss of a jade plant that is unsafe for your cat, these cute and unique succulents might be the right swap for you.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Sago Palm

Many people like to relax at the beach for vacation, and sago palms are one way to bring that relaxing, beachy vibe to any room. However, if you have cats, it’s not safe to have a sago palm in your home. 

Alternative Safe Plant: Cat Palm

Even if you have to give up your sago palm, there is no need to say goodbye to the calming feeling in your home. A little-known fact is that there are a special kind of palm plants named after your beloved pets. Cat palms are a type of large, leafy palm plant that can be kept inside and are safe for cats. They will have you feeling like you’re back at the beach in no time.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Peace Lilies

Peace lilies are another common house plant that bring a feeling of serenity to the home. These dark green, tall, leafy plants are also attractive to cats as well, but sadly, they are not safe, and should not be considered for any environment where cats live.

Alternative Safe Plant: Cast Iron Plants

Luckily, cast iron plants offer a similar look as peace lilies. Unfortunately, they don’t flower the same, as they tend to develop brownish-purple flowers, if anything. But if you like the look of the tall, dark green leaves, you can safely replace any peace lily plant with a cast iron plant and know your cat is safe and secure.

Toxic Plant for Cats: ZZ Plant

ZZ plants are very in style for home decor because of their quirky leaves and easy care. Many people who are very into home decor might not realize that these plants can really hurt your cats.

Alternative Safe Plant: American Rubber Plant

American rubber plants for decorations

If you’d still like a unique addition to your indoor plant collection that has similar qualities to a ZZ plant, check out the American rubber plant. These are a very underappreciated variety of potted plants, and they have many different-looking varieties to choose from. If you get an American rubber plant, you can rest easy knowing your house looks nice and your pets are safe.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Monstera Deliciosa

Sorry, plant lovers: The beloved monstera is toxic to cats. Although these are beautiful, large, leafy plants that add character to a space, if your cats eat them, they will have negative effects.

Alternative Safe Plant: Bird’s Nest Fern

Birds nest fern on table.

Unfortunately, there is no direct swap with the same characteristics as a monstera. If you still want a unique, leafy green plant that makes a statement, consider a bird’s nest fern to brighten up any corner of your home.

Toxic Plant for Cats: English Ivy

English ivy, which can be seen potted, acting as ground cover, or creeping up the walls of a house, is an often overlooked danger to cats. Since it is so common, many people assume it is safe, but it can pose risks if ingested.

Alternative Safe Plant: Spider Plant

Spider plant hanging from a basket.
Illustration of a spider plant, a hanging plant

If you’d like to replace your potted English ivy, another beautiful light green plant to brighten up your space is a spider plant. These add a pop of color, and have a branching appearance somewhat similar in shape to potted ivy. They have a calm, yet loud presence, and they are not a danger to anyone in your home.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus has beautiful, round leaves, and a pleasant scent. Many people put it in vases or in their shower above the shower head to add beauty and relaxation. If you have eucalyptus in a space your cats can get to, it’s time to make a swap.

Alternative Safe Plant: Money plant

Money plant on the table in a white pot.

Another fun plant with circular leaves is a money plant. According to Chinese tradition, they are rumored to bring wealth and abundance to your household. If you’re a sucker for round leaves and don’t want to give up your eucalyptus, this fun and easy plant might help make the transition easier.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Everyone loves a fiddle leaf fig tree, which is why I’m sorry to say they pose a risk to your cats. Don’t give up hope! There are other fun alternatives that can make your house just as unique and beautiful.

Alternative Safe Plant: Banana Tree

Banana tree plant

Banana trees can be a fun replacement for fiddle leaf fig trees. They have large, fun leaves, bring joy to a space, and can be kept inside if they have access to bright light. Plus, you might get some bananas out of them!

Toxic Plant for Cats: Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)

Dumb cane is a pretty standard house plant that is so common, cat owners sometimes forget it can be toxic to cats. These plants have a lot of varieties that look different, so double-check to make sure if your unidentified leafy plant is one of these.

Alternative Safe Plant: Calathea Orbifolia

If you want to get an alternative that won’t look bizarre in your space, calathea orbifolia is another common, leafy houseplant for people who love the classics.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Elephant’s Ear

Many people who want to spice up their space throw in an elephant’s ear, and it’s clear to see why. Its unique shape, different coloration options, and potential to grow to massive proportions all make this plant a distinct conversation piece in your space. It’s sad to see this one go, but there are plenty of options that will make the switch worth your while.

Alternative Safe Plant: Rattlesnake Plant

Rattlesnake plant in a pot.

If you need to give up your elephant’s ear, one of the options that will provide an equal amount of distinctive qualities is the rattlesnake plant. This unusual option has fun, ridged leaves that have a green pattern on top and purple on the bottom. Giving up your elephant ear doesn’t have to mean giving up on the fun. Rattlesnake plants add some jazzy spunk to an otherwise dull environment, and they’ll make you glad you switched.

Toxic Plant for Cats: Snake Plants

Snake plants are durable indoor plants that are very trendy in home decor. Their leaves point directly vertical, with some fun twists. They don’t branch outward, making them great for a desk or corner space that can’t endure any horizontal space hogging.

Alternative Safe Plant: Bamboo

Bamboo inside in as a decoration.

If you like snake plants for their thin, vertical shape, bamboo might be a good alternative. It’s another plant that grows up instead of out, and if you have a tight space in mind that won’t fit a wide plant, green bamboo can give a fun pop without stealing your space.

What if my cat already ate some of a toxic plant?

If you own any of these toxic plants and your cat already chewed on one or ate some, take your cat to the vet if possible. If you’re unable to take your cat at this moment, call your vet and tell them exactly what happened, including which plant it was and how much of it they ate, to talk about next steps. 

Even if your cat only chewed on the plant and didn’t ingest any large pieces, that can be enough for them to have a serious reaction. Keep an eye out for any strange behavior, vomiting, and diarrhea, drooling, or lethargy. These are all signs that your cat needs immediate medical attention. Remember, always better safe than sorry!

What if I don’t know which plants I have?

Sometimes you just buy a plant from the store because it’s cute, but then when issues like the safety of your animals come up, it can be scary thinking that you don’t know which plants you have. Googling doesn’t always help, because it’s hard to find your plant by searching “green leafy houseplant.” 

The Picture This app is a reliable, free option where you simply take a picture of your plant, and you can find out what kind it is. This will help you keep your cats safe. If you don’t see your plant on this list, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Do your own research and make sure you swap out every plant that could cause your cats to have any issues. Their lives are much more important than a particular plant, especially with so many safe alternatives to choose from.

It is always sad to have to get rid of a plant you love, especially if you’ve spent a long time growing it. However, keeping your cats safe is of the utmost importance. Hopefully, this post has helped you think of some ways to keep your cats safe without feeling like you have to throw out or give away plants without a replacement.

Of course, these are not the only swaps available for each of these plants. You can do some research on your own to find fun alternatives that fit your taste more and get you excited about beautiful houseplants that will keep everyone in your household safe and sound.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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  1. Patti Johnson says:

    Great info, Jenny honey! TYSVM for all the wonderful info! I don’t keep houseplants in our tiny apartment (no space and I have no ability to keep any plant alive…I did NOT get my Sweet Momma’s Green Thumb Gene). 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

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