Plants and Your Cats…what’s safe?

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Plants and Your Cats…what’s safe?

It’s common for people who love cats to want to bring other living things into their home, too. But what happens when those things – like some houseplants – are a potential risk for your feline friend? Even if your cat hasn’t expressed an interest in snacking on plants, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what greenery is safe. And the good news is, we’ve got an easy list for you to follow to make sure your cat and your plants can peacefully coexist.

What plants are safe?

Since any plant your cat eats could cause vomiting, we recommend that you set up your environment to discourage them from eating anything other than the food you provide. However, there are some common house plants that are non-toxic. For a longer list, check out the ASPCA website, but here are a few of our favorites.

  • There are a lot of palms that are good options (like a Parlor Palm) both for the safety of your cat and for adding beautiful splashes of green to your home. And the wispy look of a palm just may make your kitty feel like a jungle cat!
  • Ferns are common options for house plants – and there are a lot to choose from! You can easily find them in a garden department of most stores, but be sure to cross-check exactly what type of fern you have purchased. Most that are offered for sale for homes are safe, but it’s always good to double check.
  • We’re also a fan of adding a splash of color with flowering plants! Just because they have a flower doesn’t mean they are toxic.

What plants are never okay for cat owners?

Unfortunately, there are also toxic plants that also make it into homes. The ASPCA also has a list of plants toxic to cats (including a printable option if you’d prefer) that you can easily reference, but here are a few tips for making sure your environment is free of toxic plants.

  • Begin by walking through your home, patio, and anywhere your cat may wander to look for and then identify plants you already have. Give away any toxic plants (to a home without cats, of course) and ask for help if you aren’t able to identify the plant yourself. (Social media can be a great resource for this kind of information, but always verify the answers people share!)
  • Check any new plants that come into your home – including flower arrangements. It can be easy to forget when someone brings a beautiful arrangement or a lovely plant as a gift that some or all of it could be toxic, so make it a habit to assess all new plants and flowers.
  • Talk to other cat owners! Try sharing this article on your Facebook page so you can help others understand what you and others do to provide a safe home for your cats.

Tips for Discouraging Plant Snacking

We mentioned at the beginning of this post that we recommend that you keep your cats from eating any plants, even the non-toxic ones. However, if you have a kitty that’s already in the habit of adding greenery to their diet, here are a few ways you can discourage that behavior.

  • Spray Bitter Apple, a well-known repellent, on your plants. Cats hate the odor but it is unnoticeable to humans and safe for your plants.
  • Citrus and diluted vinegar have a similar effect. Often just the smell will be enough to keep them away, but if not, the taste will definitely turn them off.
  • If you have a room your cat can’t access – and we understand that this is rare – that could be a good place to keep your plants. Over time, once the habit is broken, you may even consider bringing the plants back in to see if your cat has lost interest. (This only pertains to non-toxic plants. Never risk that they may eat a toxic plant.)
  • If your plant is in a large enough container, decorative rocks with sharp edges may be enough to keep kitty from getting close enough to chew on the plant.
  • Consider what may be causing your cat to snack on plants. If they’re bored, try providing toys, entertainment or maybe even a second cat for company.

And if you have a cat that simply has to have plants in their diet, there are a variety of kinds of “kitty grass” available. It could be a gardening adventure the two of you do together!

We love hearing from our community, so if you have other ideas, please share them in the comments!

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