How to Keep Cats from Eating Plants

Is your friendly feline attracted to plants like a moth to a flame? Did you know that those beautiful lilies you received for your birthday are fatally toxic to your cat? Keep reading to find out what type of plants are toxic to cats, what to do if your cat ingests a poisonous plant, and how to keep those pesky paws away from indoor and outdoor plants. This information is crucial to the safety of your beloved cats and for your own peace of mind.

Plants That Are Toxic To Cats

Cats love to climb and explore so it may be difficult to keep plants away from them, no matter how high you place them. If a plant is toxic, assume all parts of the plant are poisonous! If you feel inclined to harbor any of these plants mentioned below, please keep them as far away from cats as possible. Even a whiff of some of these flowers and plants could be fatal to your cat!

According to the ASPCA, the following are some of the more common plants that are toxic to cats:

  • African Wonder Tree
  • Alocasia
  • Aloe
  • Amaryllis
  • American Holly
  • American Yew
  • Angelica Tree
  • Apple
  • Arum Lily
  • Asian Lily
  • Azalea
  • Baby Doll Ti Plant
  • Barbados Aloe
  • Barbados Lily
  • Barbados Pride
  • Bay Laurel
  • Bead Tree
  • Begonia
  • Bergamot Orange
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Bishop’s Weed
  • Bitter Root
  • Black Calla
  • Black Cherry
  • Black Laurel
  • Black Nightshade
  • Bobbins
  • Bog Laurel
  • Borage
  • Boxwood
  • Branching Ivy
  • Brazilwood
  • Buckwheat
  • Buttercup
  • Butterfly Iris
  • California Ivy
  • Calla Lily
  • Cape Jasmine
  • Caraway
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Carnation
  • Castor Bean Plant
  • Chamomile
  • Chandelier Plant
  • Cherry
  • Chinaberry Tree
  • Chinese Jade
  • Chives
  • Choke Cherry
  • Christmas Rose
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coffee Tree
  • Corn Plant
  • Cornstalk Plant
  • Cow parsnip
  • Cowbane
  • Cuckoo-pint
  • Daffodil
  • Dahlia
  • Daisy
  • Day Lilies
  • Desert Azalea
  • Desert Rose
  • Devil’s Backbone
  • Devils Ivy
  • Dogbane Hemp
  • Easter Lily
  • Easter Rose
  • Eastern Star
  • Emerald Feather
  • English Holly
  • English Ivy
  • English Yew
  • Eucalyptus
  • European Holly
  • Everlasting Pea
  • Fern Palm
  • Fig
  • Fire Lily
  • Foxglove
  • Garden Calla
  • Garden Hyacinth
  • Gardenia
  • Garlic
  • Geranium
  • Glacier Ivy
  • Golden Ragwort
  • Grass Palm
  • Hashish (Marijuana, Indian Hemp)
  • Hawaiian Ti
  • Heavenly Bamboo
  • Holly
  • Horse Chestnut (Buckeye)
  • Horsehead
  • Horseweed
  • Hosta
  • Hurricane Plant
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Impala Lily
  • Indian Apple
  • Inkberry
  • Iris
  • Ivy Arum
  • Jade Plant
  • Jerusalem Oak
  • Lady-of-the-night
  • Larkspur
  • Laurel
  • Lavender
  • Leatherflower
  • Leek
  • Lemon
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Lenten Rose
  • Lily
  • Lily of the Palace
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Lime
  • Maiden’s Breath
  • Marjoram
  • Mayweed
  • Meadow Saffron
  • Milkweed
  • Mistletoe
  • Mock Azalea
  • Morning Glory
  • Moss Rose
  • Needlepoint Ivy
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Onion
  • Orange
  • Oregano
  • Palm Lily
  • Peace Begonia
  • Peace Lily
  • Peach
  • Peony
  • Periwinkle
  • Pinks (Carnation, Wild Carnation, Sweet William)
  • Plum
  • Poinsettia
  • Primrose
  • Ragwort
  • Rhubarb
  • Sacred Bamboo
  • Shamrock Plant
  • Skunk Cabbage
  • Taro
  • Tarragon
  • True Aloe
  • Winterberry
  • Yarrow
  • Yucca

What To Do If Your Cat Eats A Poisonous Plant

If you catch your kitty red-handed munching on some pretty flowers that you are suspicious about, the first thing to do is to remove any and all plant material from their grasp. A vet visit will be necessary. You can also wash the cat with some warm water and remove any residue from their skin and hair before you head to the vet.

Keep an eye out for any changes in your cat’s behavior. Depending on the type of toxins, symptoms could include:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat (fast or slow)
  • Excessive peeing or drinking water

Make sure to note the type of plant as this information will be integral in determining the treatment plan. If you are not sure, take the plant with you. If the cat has thrown up, take a small sample of the vomit. Get to the vet as soon as possible!

Plants That Are Safe For Cats

If you are an avid gardener or feel like you must have flowers in your home, take some time to research about cat-friendly plants. The list below comprises of plants that both you and your kitty can enjoy.

  • Wheatgrass
  • Lemongrass
  • Catnip
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • African Violet
  • Valerian
  • Rosemary
  • Cornflower
  • Petunia
  • Moon Orchid
  • Boston Fern
  • Dill

You can also grow some oatgrass or ‘cat grass’ (found at local pet stores or online at so that your cat has something to nibble on while they are out enjoying the sunshine with you.

Even though these plants are safe for cats, consuming them in moderation is key. Feline carnivores cannot digest raw grass or plants properly because they lack the microbes necessary to break down plant cellulose. Some cats are also more inclined to throw up as soon as they eat grass. Keep some cleaner and paper towels on hand, such as Pet Mess Cleaners.

Tips To Keep Cats Away From Plants

As pet owners, it is our responsibility to make smart choices when it comes to the safety of our furbabies. Prevention is better than cure so keep your indoor and outdoor plants away from the cats as much as possible.

Change the Smell

Cats will return to a plant because they enjoy the taste of it. One trick to keep them away is to make the plant unappealing. Since cats do not like the smell of citrus, try mixing water with some lemon or orange juice and spritzing it onto the plants. You can also drop some dry citrus rinds into the planter. This is sure to deter those little paws from digging in. Check out some deterrent sprays here.

Get them Plants of Their Own

Of course, it is best to give your cat their own plant (like oatgrass) so that they leave yours alone! Keep them distracted. If you see them heading toward your plants, give them some toys or gently coax them away from it by giving them a new mission!

Do Not Use Treats

Keep in mind that if you give your cat treats to stop them from nibbling on your plants, this will only encourage them to chew on it more. Cats are smart creatures and will associate getting rewarded with treats every time they head over to the plants.

Outdoor Cats

Keeping outdoor cats from toxic plants can be a bit more tricky. You never know where they have been and what kind of mischief they got into in their travels. A good habit to get into is to make sure to give your cat a quick check over when they return home.

Run a brush over them to remove any foreign particles that may have gotten onto their fur. If you notice any leaves, petals or pollen, remove the items, place them in a separate bag, and take it to a vet for identification. Even though this may seem a bit extreme to some, it is wise to take precaution.

Stay Vigilant

If you end up having cats and plants in your home, always stay cautious. Know the whereabouts of your cat, especially if you see signs that they have gotten into your plants. Do not bring in plants that you cannot identify. Keep the phone numbers of your vet and animal control poison center on hand.

We all want to be a bit more in tune with nature. As long as you are vigilant and proactive about the safety of your pets, there is no reason why plants and cats cannot coexist.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.