If you have pets and love houseplants, you know the struggle. One day, you notice fang-shaped holes in one of your plant's leaves—or even catch Fluffy in the act of chomping down on one of your prize specimens—and go into panic mode. Could your beloved plant have poisoned your beloved pet?
Luckily, you don't have to choose between your plant collection and your fur kids, because some of the prettiest, most easygoing houseplants are also nontoxic to cats. Decorate with these plants in the cat-accessible areas of your home, and the next time your feline takes a bite out of your favorite plant friend, you can breathe a sigh of relief and skip the scary (and expensive) emergency vet visit.
Polka Dot Plant
Cute and compact, the Polka Dot Plant, also called Freckle Face Plant, makes a cheery addition to any bookshelf, side table, home office, or windowsill. Its bright colors—pink, white, red, or lavender splotches on green leaves—will show best in bright, indirect light. Is yours looking tall and leggy? That's a sign that conditions are too dark, and the plant will benefit from being a little closer to your light source.
There's nothing quite like the striking presence of a lush Boston Fern to add an elegant touch to a room. As a bonus, these ferns are easy to care for, requiring warm temps and bright, indirect light. If you really want to make sure prying paws don't come into contact with your plant, simply pot it in a hanging basket and suspend it from your ceiling. That way, it'll be out of reach of even the most acrobatic kitties.
These specimens in the genus Marantaceae—which encompasses both Marantas and Calatheas—are known by this common name thanks to their habit of turning up their colorfully patterned leaves like praying hands at night. Because they love humidity, they make a great bathroom plant. But any warm place with bright, indirect light works well as long as it's not too dry. Dry climate? Place a shallow tray with a layer of pebbles under the plant, then add water until it reaches just below the top of the pebbles (the bottom of the pot shouldn't be wet). As the water evaporates, it will add moisture to the air around your plant.
Rabbit’s Foot Fern
Another feline-friendly fern, the Rabbit's Foot Fern is an epiphytic jungle plant, just like Orchids, Air Plants, and Bromeliads. This variety is known for the fuzzy, paw-like rhizomes that grow out of the pot below its feathery fronds. Its relatives in the Davallia genus, the Deer's Foot Fern and the Squirrel's Foot Fern, are also non-toxic to cats.
Large floor plants are so much fun to decorate with—they make a big statement, look beautiful, and fill empty space with gorgeous green. But having foliage so close to the ground makes them an easy target for our pets. Luckily, the Parlor Palm has it all: it's cat-safe, beautiful, and easy to care for.
Worried your rascally cats are going to chomp your plants, even if you display them on a high shelf? Pick up a Staghorn Fern. In addition to being nontoxic to kitties, its classic presentation—mounted on a wooden plaque and displayed on a wall—puts it far out of reach of pets. And if you do decide to pot your Staghorn Fern using sphagnum moss for a more traditional presentation, you can rest easy that a cat who takes a bite will be just fine.
This unique, compact houseplant, also called Purple Velvet Plant, is named for the vivid violet fuzz that grows on its dark green leaves. Choose an area with full sun for this specimen—like a south-facing or west-facing window—since its colors will show best with lots of direct light. It's the perfect plant to add a pop of color to a section of succulents or an indoor herb garden.
An easy solution to keeping your cats safe from this charming, must-have succulent? Hang it from your ceiling or on the edge of a high shelf in a bright, sunny spot. Bright light will encourage the growth of its long, ropelike stems into a beautiful hanging plant your cats can't touch. Be careful when moving the plant or taking it down from its perch for watering, as its tiny leaves are delicate and can easily fall off.
This beloved houseplant shows up in living rooms, offices, and public spaces just about everywhere you go. And it's no wonder: The Spider Plant (also known as an Airplane Plant) is beautiful, with its variegated leaves and elegantly draping leaves, and it's incredibly hardy even when neglected for long periods. And, as a bonus, it's nontoxic to cats—so there's no need to panic if you do happen to find little bite marks in its leaves.
African Violets are known for their bright, cheerful blooms, which range from purple to pink to red to white to even variegated types. In the right conditions—lots of humidity and bright, indirect light, such as from a North-facing or East-facing window—flowers will appear several times a year. Whether you choose to water yours from the top or bottom, be sure to avoid getting the leaves wet and use tepid water, as cold water will leave unsightly marks on the leaves.
What could be cuter than this funky, playful palm? Unlike its larger cousins, the Ponytail Palm (also known as Elephant's Foot Palm thanks to its wide gray trunk) is ideal to display on shelves, counters, and side tables thanks to its slow growth habit and compact size. Set them in a place with lots of bright, indirect light and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Luckily, curious cats won't run into trouble if they nibble a leaf now and then.
Hen and Chicks
Also known as Sempervivum, the Hen and Chicks plant is one of the easiest succulents to grow. (They're also great for homes with cats because they're quite compact and don't trail or dangle.) Each healthy mother plant will grow new rosettes—called offsets or pups—which can fill out a pot beautifully. Or, if you'd prefer, you can simply cut or pull off the rosettes and plant them in fresh succulent soil to grow a new plant.