House Plants & Cats


Cats love plants. They love to hang out with plants, eat plants, rub against plants and use the plant's dirt for their bathroom. Care must be taken when houseplants and cats live together. Many houseplants are poisonous to cats and other pets. If you want houseplants and a cat to coexist, choose plants that are safe for your cat.

Toxic Plants

Many common houseplants are poisonous to cats. The ASPCA lists 17 plants that are poisonous to cats and plants that are safe for cats. Pothos, a very popular houseplant, can cause swelling of the gastrointestinal tract and other problems in cats. Scheflerra, another common houseplant, can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue in pets who ingest it, according to the ASPCA.

Extreme Toxicity

Lilies are one of the most deadly plants to cats. According to veterinarian Jill A. Richardson, "Within only a few hours of ingestion of the plant material, the cat may vomit, become lethargic or develop a lack of appetite. These signs continue and worsen as kidney damage progresses. Without prompt and proper treatment by a veterinarian, the cat will develop kidney failure in approximately 36-72 hours." That should convince any cat owner to keep lilies out of the house. Always keep your veterinarian's phone number where you can get to it quickly. If your cat suddenly becomes ill for any reason, you may panic and not be able to find the number.


What if your cat eats from a poisonous plant? The Animal Poison Control Center may be reached at (888) 426-4435, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Professional advice is available for $65. It includes a followup consultation for you and your vet if needed. If your vet offers emergency care, it makes more sense to call her.

Nontoxic Plants

Many houseplants are safe for your cat. Bring only nontoxic plants into the house. Among these plants are the rubber plant, bamboo palm, Boston fern and sword fern. The list of nontoxic plants is extensive, so there's no reason to bring a toxic plant in the house.


There are many things you can do to prevent a tragedy from happening. Keep toxic plants out of the house and plant something in a pot for your cat, like cat nip or grass. If you own a pothos, and you are unbending when it comes to getting rid of it, suspend it from the ceiling where the cat can't reach or keep it in a room where the cat isn't allowed. Or put a decorative screen around the plant that the cat can't get into.

Keywords: poisonous plants, poisoned cat, help for cat, emergency vet services

About this Author

Brenda Reeves started writing in 1979. Specializing in gardening topics, her articles appear on numerous Web sites, including eHow. Reeves has a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from California State University, Northridge.