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21 Best Plants That Are Safe for Cats, Plus Safety Tips From a Vet

Here are the prettiest houseplants that are safe for cats.

Headshot of Arricca Elin SanSoneBy Arricca Elin SanSone
cat safe plants a ginger cat sits on a windowsill beside a pink orchid
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Houseplants make your home feel cozy in an instant. But as a pet parent, you may not realize some plants are toxic to pets, especially cats. “Cats are naturally curious in order to survive,” says Susan Sikule, DVM, owner of Just Cats Veterinary Clinic in Guilderland, New York. “In the wild, they need to explore to hunt and find good hiding places. In your house, your cat wants to explore your plants, too.” Fortunately, there are many cat safe plants you can bring home without worrying about your fur baby’s safety.

You also can try to keep plants out of your cat’s reach on a high shelf or in hanging baskets, though that’s not always foolproof. “Cats being cats, they will somehow figure out how to get to them or injure themselves trying,” says Dr. Sikule. For cats who like to dig in pots, place landscaping stones on top of the soil to make it less appealing.

No matter how careful you are, one plant you should never have in your house is lily, even in bouquets. “Lilies by far are the most deadly plant for cats, and even a small amount can cause irreversible kidney failure,” says Dr. Sikule. Even a few grains of pollen or drinking water from a vase that contains lilies can be fatal for your cat.

If you suspect your pet has nibbled on a toxic plant — even if you’re not entirely sure — call your vet ASAP. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also, remember that any plant can cause GI distress or vomiting if ingested in large enough quantities, so keep your curious kitty away from your houseplants!

Ahead, the best options for cat-safe plants:


Money Tree

it goes by several names, including the good luck plant, the pachura money tree plant, and the malabar chestnut
AYImages//Getty Images

This plant has a handsome upright form with appealing shiny green leaves. It looks like a miniature tree and often comes with a braided stem. Give money tree bright light, though it will tolerate moderate light. Let it dry out a bit between waterings.



Phalaenopsis Orchid

cat safe plants orchid

Also called moth orchids, these plants may appear delicate, but they’re actually quite tough and will bloom for months in the right conditions. Give them bright, indirect light in an east or south-facing window, and water only when dry.



Olive Tree

cat safe plants olive tree
Fred Bahurlet / EyeEm//Getty Images

Olive trees have beautiful, silvery foliage and wispy shapes. You’ll need very bright light in an east or south-facing window, or use an LED grow light. They like to dry out slightly between waterings.


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close up detail of a green succulent plant echeveria lilacina with its rosettes of leaves, a popular houseplant
Yulia-Images//Getty Images

Not all succulents are cat-safe, but pretty, rose-shaped echeveria is. Echeveria retains water in its leaves so it’s drought-tolerant, which is great if you’re forgetful about giving your plants a drink. Give it bright light, and let it go a couple weeks between waterings.




cat safe plant bromeliad
Simon McGill//Getty Images

This exotic-looking houseplant has attractive foliage and unusual-looking colored bracts, a sort of modified leaf. Give bromeliads lots of bright light, and water only when the soil feels dry to touch.



African Violet

cat safe plants african violet
Mint Images/ Helen Norman//Getty Images

These classic houseplants flower year-round under the right growing conditions. Give African violets bright, indirect light; direct sunlight will burn their fuzzy leaves. Water when soil surface still feels slightly wet.


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cat safe plants herbs
Anthony-Masterson//Getty Images

Cats typically leave many herbs alone. Good choices include basil and rosemary, which both need bright light so place them on a windowsill or use an LED grow light. Most herbs like to dry out in between waterings.



Staghorn Fern

unspecified january 27 elkhorn fern or staghorn fern platycerium bifurcatum, polypodiaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
DEA / C. DANI//Getty Images

The striking, sculptural form of the staghorn fern makes them particularly appealing. Plus, you can display them mounted on wood or in hanging baskets to keep them out of your cat’s reach.

They like bright, indirect light and need to dry out a bit between drinks. Soak the entire fern if it’s mounted on wood in a bathtub for 10 to 15 minutes, let drip dry, and rehang. For those in pots, sit the pot in water for 10 minutes or so, letting it soak it up moisture from the bottom.



Christmas Cactus

a christmas cactus with pink flowers is placed on a piece of furniture in front of the window inside a room of a dwelling
C. Romance//Getty Images

Christmas cactus can live for decades in the right conditions! These plants need bright, indirect light and should be watered when they’re slightly dry. They form buds in response to the hours of daylight; to get them to rebloom next year, give it 12 to 16 hours of complete darkness from late September on.


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cat safe plants piled
Mint Images RF//Getty Images

Also called coin plant or Chinese money plant because of its cute, rounded foliage, this is another type of succulent that is cat-friendly. Give it bright indirect light, and water only when surface feels dry.



Cast Iron Plant

unspecified january 27 variegated bar room plant aspidistra variegata, asparagaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
DEA / G. CIGOLINI//Getty Images

As the name suggests, cast iron plant survives almost anything and is quite forgiving if you’re a plant parent who occasionally forgets to water. Its long strappy leaves prefer low to medium light. Water when the soil feels slightly dry.



Parlor Palm

unspecified may 08 close up of a parlor palm chamaedorea elegans photo by dea gcigolinide agostini via getty images
DEA / G.CIGOLINI//Getty Images

This is one of the less fussy palms to grow with its wispy, feathery fronds. It's often sold as a small tabletop plant. Give parlor palm moderate light, though it will tolerate lower light levels. Water to keep the soil slightly moist.


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unspecified january 27 haworthia haworthia attenuata clariperla, xanthorrhoeaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
DEA / G. CIGOLINI//Car and Driver

Not all succulents are cat-safe, but this one is. With its cute form and solid or striped foliage, haworthia is a great windowsill plant that maxes out at 6 to 8 inches tall. It likes bright light. Water every few weeks when it’s mostly dry.



Spider Plant

unspecified june 06 close up of a spider plant chlorophytum comosum photo by dea gcigolinide agostini via getty images
DEA / G.CIGOLINI//Getty Images

The spider plant has been popular forever because it’s so easy-care. Its long, strappy leaves arch gracefully from the pot, and it produces long stems with plantlets, which you can snip off to make new plants. These dangling babies might be especially enticing for cats, so keep it up high or in a hanging pot in bright, indirect light. Water when it’s slightly dry.



Polka Dot Plant

unspecified january 27 polka dot plant hypoestes phyllostachya, acanthaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
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This fun plant has pink, white or red spots, making it a colorful addition to any room. Give polka dot plant bright light and constant light moisture — but don’t drown it; it doesn’t like wet feet.


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Bird's Nest Fern

unspecified january 27 birds nest fern or nest fern asplenium nidus, aspleniaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
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This fern is less finicky than many other types, and its thick leaves help it retain moisture, meaning it’s more forgiving if you forget to water it occasionally. Give bird's nest fern bright, indirect light, and water when slightly dry.




calathea makoyana the plants are in white pots in the white wall decorated room
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This plant is becoming hugely popular because of its striking, colorful leaves and graceful form. Calathea needs bright light and prefers to stay lightly (that’s lightly!) moist.



Ponytail Palm

unspecified january 27 pony tail beaucarnea recurvata, nolinaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
DEA / C. DANI//Getty Images

You guessed it! This plant looks like it has a big, messy ponytail. Give ponytail palm bright indirect light. It’s drought tolerant because it stores water in its bulb-shaped base, so it can go a few weeks between waterings. The dangling fronds may entice kitties to play, so keep it out of reach, if possible. It’s also slow-growing, so buy the size you want.


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Norfolk Island Pine

unspecified january 27 norfolk island pine araucaria excelsa, araucariaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
DEA / G. CIGOLINI//Getty Images

These delicate-looking pines with soft needles are a favorite small indoor tree. Norfolk island pines need bright light and slightly moist soil. If you forget to water, however, they tend to drop lower branches, which won’t re-grow.




unspecified january 27 pepper face or baby rubberplant peperomia obtusifolia variegata, piperaceae photo by deagostinigetty images
DEA / G. CIGOLINI//Getty Images

Cute, puckered shaped leaves and a dense mounded shape or draping form make peperomia a must-have plant. It can handle low to moderate light. Let the soil dry out between waterings.


Headshot of Arricca Elin SanSone
Arricca Elin SanSone

Arricca Elin SanSone has written about health and lifestyle topics for Prevention, Country Living, Woman's Day, and more. She’s passionate about gardening, baking, reading, and spending time with the people and dogs she loves.

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