Toxic House Plants

When we bring home a new kitten or cat, it is very important that we cat-proof our house for their safety. One thing to keep in mind is that there are several common house plants that are poisonous to cats.

Why woulEaster LilyCredit: Wikimedia Commonsd my cat eat a plant?

Unfortunately, we humans are at a loss as to why cats do most of what they do. In part, that's an integral part of being a cat. But the fact remains that cats love to chew on plants. Perhaps they do it out of boredom, or maybe they are trying to supplement their daily fiber intake. Or perhaps the plant just ticked them off by taking up their favorite counter space.

What are the signs of my cat being poisoned?

That depends on the plant and the toxin the cat has ingested. Symptoms could include diarrhea, vomiting, excessive saliva, or mouth pain and swelling. Some plants are simply irritants and not lethal. Others can affect a cat's kidneys or cardiovascular system. Still others can cause blindness or neurological problems. Symptoms can be immediate or sometimes delayed for several hours.

Following is a list of house plants that are toxic to cats. They are separated into categories by their type of toxicity. Please note that some plants may have more than one type of toxic components. If so, that plant will be listed under the most serious of the components.

Kidney Toxicity

Araceae family of plants (calla lily, peace lily, arum, philodendron)

Lily (Easter lily, tiger lily, Madonna lily, Asiatic lily, Turk's cap lily) **This is an especially dangerous plant to cats. Many patients die if treatment is not begun soon after ingestion. NOTE: Even the water that these lilies stand in will contain the poison.

Cardiovascular ToxicityAzaleaCredit: Wikimedia Commons

  • Kalanchoe
  • Mistletoe
  • Rhododendron Species ( to include azalea)

Neurological Toxicity

  • Croton
  • Cyclamen

Respiratory Toxicity

Dieffenbachia (dumb cane)

Gastrointestinal Toxicity

  • Aloe Vera (juice of the plant)
  • Bird of Paradise (seeds)
  • Caladium Species
  • Chinese Evergreen (leaves)
  • English Ivy
  • Euphorbia (pencil cactus)
  • Glory Lily
  • Golden Pothos
  • Holly (leaves and berries)
  • Jerusalem or Christmas Cherry (berries)
  • Kaffir Lily (bulbs)
  • Poinsetta

What do I do if I think my cat has been poisoned?

Call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. Please note that this is not a free call. There will be a flat-rate charge for their services. You can also visit their website at and click on the Animal Poison Control Center link.

Are there any house plants that are safe for cats?

Sure there are. If you are buying plants from a nursery, they should be able to help you choose some pet-friendly plants. Here are a few, just for starters:

  • African Violet
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Carnation
  • Coleus
  • Ferns
  • Fuchsia
  • Hens and Chicks
  • Spider Plant
  • Wandering Jew

Bringing a new cat home is much like bringing home a new baby in that we need to be sure to make a safe environment for them. No matter what our best intentions, we can't watch a cat 24 hours a day, or trust to their nature not to chew on a plant leaf. Please go through the lists above and choose your indoor plants wisely. You don't want pretty house plants that are poisonous to cats.