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Having plants in the home is good for our mental wellbeing. They improve air quality by releasing water vapour and increasing oxygen levels, which has been shown to improve our mood, energy and mental focus.
But if we share our home with a feline friend, we need to make sure that the plants we buy are cat friendly – we know how cats like to explore, sniff and nibble!
There are many non-toxic plants that you can choose from, but if you are uncertain which ones to buy it’s always best to check. If someone has been kind enough to gift you a plant and you are uncertain if it is cat-safe, make sure you put it somewhere you know your cat will not go – or can’t access.
Why do cats eat houseplants?
We may wonder why cats eat houseplants when they have lots of trees and bushes to explore outside. There could be a number of reasons:
- It’s normal! After all, cats like to chew, scratch and play and they are very inquisitive.
- They might be bored with their surroundings and are looking for something new to explore.
- The leaves/fronds of the plant might be gently moving in the air currents, catching your kitty’s eye and enticing them.
- The plants you have in the home are there for your cat to enjoy, like catnip or cat grass.
What cat-friendly plants can I have in my home?
There are a number of cat-friendly plants that will brighten up your home and enhance your wellbeing. Here are some of them:
- Cat grass – A grass-like plant that cats can eat freely as it is a nutrient-packed treat for them, but keep it away from other plants so that your cat only munches on cat grass.
- Boston fern – These plants have bushy and delicate shaggy fronds that like medium to low light and humidity. Your cat will enjoy batting at the leaves!
- Orchid (moth orchids) – All of the orchid species are regarded as harmless for cats, but, specifically, the moth orchid – which is the most common house species – can live alongside your feline friend without worry.
- Money tree – A low maintenance plant that according to Feng Shui philosophy brings positive energy and good luck to the owner. No problem for your cat to explore either! When grown outside, they can grow to heights of 60 feet – an ideal climb for your feline friend. The smaller indoor species are also safe for your cat to be around.
- Bromeliad – There are a number of plants that come under the Bromeliad umbrella and they are all cat friendly. They are tropical plants, popular for their unique foliage, resilience, adaptability, and easy maintenance.
- Calathea (Zebra plants, rattlesnake plants) – Known by another more common name, the Prayer Plant, because its leaves burst into life when the sun shines onto them and close up when darkness falls. Cats love to explore their fascinating leaves.
- Spider plant – Also known as the ‘ribbon plant’ or ‘aeroplane plant’ (probably because of the many aeroplane-like shoots that appear). They are easy to grow and as popular now as they were in the 70’s. Although they are classed as being non-toxic to cats, if they over-indulge nibbling them, they may get an upset tummy, so best keep them up high and out of reach.
- Peperomia – There are many species of peperomia plants which, in the main, are all considered to be non-toxic for cats. They come in a variety of patterns with variegated leaves. Because new species are always being introduced, there’s no guarantee that they will all be non-toxic, so it’s best to stick to the ones you know.
- Chinese Money plant – Always popular and better known as Pilea Peperomioides, is easy to grow, and considered to be a cat safe plant.
- Venus fly trap – Although this funky plant is carnivorous, it is non-toxic to cats, though watch out if they pounce on the plant – the plant may just pounce back!
- Areca palm – A statement plant that will sit elegantly in your home. It’s non-toxic to cats, though you may find them digging the soil or playing with the flowing palm fronds.
- Ionantha Guatemala Air Plants – If you're short on space, these are great in planters or in small terrariums. Air plants are not toxic to cats, but best to keep them out of reach as they have sharp and pointed leaves, and might pose a choking hazard if your cat nibbles them.
We all appreciate the benefits of having plants around the home, but even if they are non-toxic, there is a risk that if eaten in large quantities they could upset your cat’s stomach. If you see any signs of vomiting or diarrhoea, twitching, or your cat is having breathing difficulties, take them to the vet immediately.
Be aware of plants that are definitely a no-no around cats. During special celebrations, we may be given flowers, sweets and plants that are not cat-friendly, so make sure you keep your feline friend in mind and check them all out before they are put on display.