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10+ Plants Safe for Cats

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 25, 2019
10+ Plants Safe for Cats

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Cats are curious animals by nature, so it is not surprising that they approach, sniff and often nibble on newly introduced objects in our homes, such as new plants. If you are a cat guardian who keeps plants at home - whether indoors or outdoors in your garden - you may be worried about the risk of them being toxic to your cats. You have heard about some of them before, and you will know how plants that are toxic to cats can cause them skin reactions, digestive problems or worse, if ingested.

However, there are also several plants that are safe for cats, and some which may even be good for your furry friend. In this AnimalWised article we share a list 10+ plants safe for cats, both in the home and garden. Some of them are even considered medicinal plants, and can serve as natural remedies to treat different conditions in your cat. Others, on the other hand, are simply decorative plants that are non-toxic to cats, and therefore safe to have around the house. Read on to learn more!

You may also be interested in: Toxic and Poisonous Plants for Horses

The top 10 indoor and outdoor safe plants for cats are:

  1. Catnip
  2. Aloe vera
  3. German chamomile
  4. Valerian
  5. Rosemary
  6. Thyme
  7. Parsley
  8. Mint
  9. Areca palm
  10. Orchids

Catnip - the best plant for cats

If you are looking for a non-toxic plant that is also good for cats, catnip is the best choice. The Nepeta cataria plant, popularly known as catnip, catmint or catswart, has an effect on cats that could be described as narcotic. This reaction is a product of nepetalactone, an active substance found in the composition of the plant. This substance has the ability to stimulate the cat's sensory neurons. When this happens, the cat experiences overstimulation which it displays by rubbing against the plant, licking or chewing it. It may sometimes jump around or seem to hunt imaginary mice.

Since catnip is non-toxic and is not addictive, it a safe plant for cats. In fact it has positive benefits and helps relieve or prevent stress in cats, fosters play, exercise and mental stimulation. Catnip has also been shown to help timid or frightened cats regain confidence[1]. However, moderation and supervision are important when your cat is around catnip, as excessive exposure could make the cat hyperactive or aggressive. To learn more about catnip for cats, consult this article on the properties of catnip.

10+ Plants Safe for Cats - Catnip - the best plant for cats

Aloe vera - a good plant for cats

Aloe vera is another cat safe plant that can be grown both indoors and outdoors, as long as it gets enough sunlight. This succulent is not merely non-toxic for your furry friend. In fact, aloe vera has highly beneficial properties for animals such as cats and dogs, especially when it come to treating skin problems. It also has multiple uses and benefits for humans, so keeping an aloe vera plant around the house is a win-win for both you and your cat.

Among the benefits of aloe vera for cats, it is believed to relieve the symptoms of dermatitis and known to promote wound healing[2]. Thanks to its components, aloe vera has antibiotic, antiseptic, regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties. Your cat can chew on the aloe vera plant, but make sure it does not eat too much at a time. Despite its health properties, ingesting too much aloe vera gel can cause the cat digestive problems. If your cat tends to bite or eat the leaves of this succulent too frequently, we recommend keeping it out of reach, and only allowing the cat near in occasionally.

Other houseplants or outdoor plants of the succulent family are also safe for cats, although their health benefits have not been studied.

10+ Plants Safe for Cats - Aloe vera - a good plant for cats

German Chamomile & Valerian - medicinal plants for cats

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and valerian are good outdoor plants for cats for many reasons. In addition, they are beautiful flowering plants that make a great addition your garden. They can also be used to make herbal infusions beneficial for humans, which may be why you want to grow them at home in the first place. Both chamomile and valerian are safe plants that cats can eat, and can be prepared and used medicinally as well.

Starting with chamomile, an infusion of chamomile flowers is a good topical home remedy for removing ticks from cats and kittens. It can also be used to clean rheum from a cat's eyes, relieve feline conjunctivitis (always as a complement to veterinary treatment) or soothe irritated skin. When ingested, chamomile infusion can help treat mild gastrointestinal problems. Eating too much of the raw chamomile plant can be harmful for your cat, so make sure they do not chew on it too often. Also make sure you do not plant Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), another variety of the plant that is toxic to cats.

Valerian, which produces a sedative effect in humans, has the opposite effect in cats. In fact, some cats who do not respond to catnip, do respond to the strong smelling valerian root[1]. It has similar effects to catnip, with cats becoming overstimulated and more active. The root of the valerian plant, dried and cut or powered, is usually given to cats, though you may find them chewing on the leaves of the plant too.

10+ Plants Safe for Cats - German Chamomile & Valerian - medicinal plants for cats

Rosemary, thyme, parsley & mint - herbs for cats

Aromatic plants not only allow us to decorate our balcony, windowsill or garden, but we also use them for cooking and to prepare natural remedies. Among the culinary herbs that are safe for cats the most suitable are rosemary, thyme, parsley and mint.

You can even use them as condiments in the cat's meals or as a home remedy against certain discomforts. All four herbs provide your cat with vitamins and minerals. They also have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, purifying and digestive properties. In addition, each of them provides particular benefits:

  • Parsley is very beneficial for the cat's urinary system, so it is a good plant for cats that suffer from urinary tract infections or from kidney stones.
  • Rosemary is an excellent muscle relaxant, and a few drops of rosemary oil can be used to massage your cat if they suffer a muscle injury. Rosemary has also been shown to have anti-fungal properties[3].
  • Thyme helps strengthen the immune system and can help fight diseases such as cystitis, bronchitis or intestinal parasites, thanks to its expectorant, antiseptic, balsamic and diuretic properties.
  • Peppermint has decongestant properties, so this plant is recommended for cats with respiratory problems or as a good home remedy for a cat's cold.

Basil, dill and coriander are some of the other aromatic plants that you can grow indoors or in your garden as they are non-toxic and safe for cats.

10+ Plants Safe for Cats - Rosemary, thyme, parsley & mint - herbs for cats

Areca palm - an ideal houseplant safe for cats

The areca or butterfly palm, is one of the most popular indoor plants used to decorate homes. It is known for its elegant appearance and and houseplant that is easy to care for. areca palm is also a popular choice among cat owners, as it is plant that is not toxic to cats. You can use it to bring life to your home without worrying about it affecting your cat. The areca palm is perfectly safe for cats, whether they rub against its leaves or even chew on them.

Being a type of plant that needs plenty of light, the areca palm should be placed in a bright and warm part of the house, but without receiving too much direct sunlight. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that your cat will often lay next to the plant enjoying the same warmth and comfort.

Orchids - a popular indoor plant safe for cats

There are many types of orchids and they are all equally in demand as decorative houseplants known for their extraordinary beauty. Orchids also happen to be safe indoor plants for cats, so you don't have to worry about you furry friend if you want to have an orchid at home. However, taking care of these plants is not easy and it is useful to have an idea of how to care for orchids indoors before you acquire one.

Furthermore, if your cat is one of those who loves to nibble on your houseplants, then we do not recommend keeping the orchid where the cat can reach it. This is not because the orchid can be harmful to the cat, rather the cat could hinder this delicate plant's development. In case your cat does chew on the orchid, you should know that the plant is non-toxic to cats and will not cause the cat any problems.

10+ Plants Safe for Cats - Orchids - a popular indoor plant safe for cats

Other plants that are safe for cats

In addition to the above, there are other plants that are safe for cats that you can use to decorate your home or garden without fear of poisoning your best friend. Here is a list of some more cat friendly plants:

  • Dandelion
  • Cat's claw
  • Calathea
  • Sage
  • Bamboo
  • Pontail palm
  • Spider plant
  • baby rubber plant
  • Prayer plant (maranta)
  • Strawberry plant (Fragaria)
  • Button fern

For a list of indoor and outdoor plants that are toxic to cats, and which you will want to avoid keeping at home, check out the video below:

If you want to read similar articles to 10+ Plants Safe for Cats, we recommend you visit our Extra care category.

References
  1. Bol, S., et al. (2017). Responsiveness of cats (Felidae) to silver vine (Actinidia polygama), Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and catnip (Nepeta cataria). BMC Veterinary Research, 13(70).
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356310/
  2. Drudi, D., et al. (2018). Aloe barbadensis miller versus silver sulfadiazine creams for wound healing by secondary intention in dogs and cats: A randomized controlled study. Research in Veterinary Science, 117, 1-9.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0034528817305544
  3. Ebani, V. V., et al. (2017). Antibacterial and Antifungal Activity of Essential Oils against Pathogens Responsible for Otitis Externa in Dogs and Cats. Medicines, 4(2).
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5590057/
Bibliography
  • Cebrian, J. (2017). Dictionary of medicinal plants. RBA Books.
  • N.A. (2008). Home remedies for dogs and cats: Over 1000 solutions for your pet's problems. Libros Cúpula.

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