21 Cat-Safe Houseplants, According To Experts

Have your cat and plants coexist safely 🌱

cats and plants

If you’re a cat parent who also loves keeping plants in your home, you may be wondering about which ones are safe to have around.

Cats can be playful and curious creatures — especially when it comes to houseplants. Unfortunately, some are toxic and unsafe for cats. From nibbling on leaves to doing their business in the soil, it’s best to only keep nontoxic plants in your home.

So, when it comes to cat-safe houseplants, which greenery makes the cut?

We spoke with Nick Kustka, a licensed cat behaviorist with Pango Pets, and Jennifer Green, a botanist (and cat lover!) with PositiveBloom, for more insight on everything you need to know about having cats and plants in your home.

Cats and plants 101

Which cat-safe houseplants do experts recommend?

Here’s the good news: There are a ton of plants that are safe to have around your cat.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to always check with your vet if you have any questions about a specific plant. Here’s a list of cat-safe houseplants that are OK to have around, according to Kustka:

  • African violet
  • Baby's tears
  • Banana plant
  • Spider plant
  • Venus fly trap
  • Areca palm
  • Boston fern
  • Calathea
  • Phalaenopsis orchid
  • Peperomia
  • Polka dot plant
  • Friendship plant
  • Live succulents
  • Maidenhair fern
  • Lemon button fern
  • Peacock plant
  • Parlor palm
  • Christmas cactus

Additionally, herbs like thyme, rosemary and basil are safe for cats! Now, even though these plants are safe, you’ll still need to keep an eye on your cat, since eating too much of any plant could make your cat sick.

How to keep cats out of houseplants

For everyone with a green thumb, keeping your cat out of your houseplants can be a challenging exercise. Luckily, there are a few methods that are helpful and won’t be harmful to your cat or your plants.

“The first thing you can use are citruses,” Green told The Dodo. “Cats despise the smell of citrus fruits, so lemon or orange peel will work well. Place the peels on top of your soil, and cats won’t come close to it.”

Pretty cool, right?

“You can also squeeze lemons or oranges, dilute the juice, put it in a spray bottle and spray the plant's leaves,” Green said.

Cats aren’t a fan of hot chili peppers, either.

“Just sprinkle them on the soil and see your cats running away,” Green said. “Using this method, cats won’t come close to your plants, and if they do, they sure won’t chew the leaves.”

How to keep cats from eating houseplants

Using the same citrus or chili pepper method mentioned above will help deter your cat from deciding to chew on your houseplants.

“You can also try spraying plant leaves with a homemade blend of water, a few drops of Tabasco sauce and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper,” Kustka told The Dodo.

How to stop cats from pooping in potted plants

According to Green and Kustka, there are a few options that may work when it comes to keeping cats from pooping in your plants (fingers crossed):

  • Place your plants in the areas of your home that are the most off-limits (rooms your cat doesn't visit regularly or in high spots he isn’t able to reach). Hanging plants are a great option.
  • Put small stones on the topsoil of your pots. Cats prefer pooping on the ground; the stones won’t be attractive to them. In general, stones are great to use as a soil top dressing as they retain moisture well and are decorative.
  • Having a sufficient number of litter boxes in the house (one per cat, plus one is the rule) will help your cat choose a more appropriate option for his bathroom needs.

Here’s to peacefully coexisting with your cat and your plants! Turns out, the two can go together well after all.