We never want our furry friends to come in contact with a toxic plant, especially in our own households! We also do not want to unknowingly bring a toxic houseplant home from the local nursery or grocery store thinking it is completely harmless. This can happen all too easily and the next thing you know you are rushing your poor feline friend to the vet and racking up hundreds of dollars in veterinarian bills. I know I would personally die if one of my cats got sick from a plant I brought into the house.
Below you will find a list of common household plants that are toxic to cats to reference with a picture of the plant, scientific name, and the symptoms your cat may experience if ingested. Make sure to reference this list before you decide to buy any new leafy friends to keep your furry friends safe and happy!
1) Alocasia (a·luh·kay·zhuh)
- Scientific name: Alocasia spp.
- Family: Araceae
- Common name: Alocasia spp also known as Elephant’s Ear
- Toxic part of the plant: Entire plant due to the insoluble calcium oxalates found in the flesh of the plant.
It sucks right? This is a gorgeous plant and is very popular in nurseries right now. Very on-trend because of the unique look of the plant’s leaves. Unfortunately, the entire Araceae family is toxic to cats. It contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in the tissue of the plant that will cause oral irritation, pain and swelling in the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Cats are known to paw at their face as well if they come in contact with this plant because of the irritation they will feel in their facial area. Exquisite plant but better to keep it outside if you have indoor cats that are curious like mine are!
2) Amaryllis (a·mr·i·luhs)
- Scientific name: Amaryllis spp.
- Family: Amaryllidaceae
- Common name: Belladonna lily, Saint Joseph Lily, Cape Belladonna, Naked lady.
- Toxic part of the plant: The entire plant is thought to be toxic to cats but the bulb is the most toxic. Thankfully, the stalk and flower are not as toxic as they might be the most inviting to your feline friend.
This beautiful bulbous plant is commonly displayed in homes, especially in the springtime as well as the holidays. It is a favorite to display at Christmas time as well due to its vibrant red blooms. It also does not require much effort to produce beautiful flowers, making this plant quite popular at major grocery retailers and garden centers. The Amaryllis contains lycorine among other harmful toxins. If ingested the plant can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, and tremors. Better keep this one away from your cats!
3) Lillies (li·leez)
- Scientific name: Lilium sp. with many different varieties such as Hemerocallis sp., spathiphyllum, Convallaria sp.
- Common name: Lillies, also known as Asiatic lilies, Daylilies, Peace Lilies, Lily of The Valley.
- Toxic part of the plant: The entire plant all the way down to the pollen
- Family: Lilium
If you are going to keep any plant out of your house it better be this one. Lilies are highly toxic and cats have been known to suffer from Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) just from ingesting the pollen. Yikes! Lilies are very common in bouquets and are commonly associated with weddings and funerals. I know my mom received lilies when she was in the hospital from a friend. They usually pop up during off times of your life but be prepared to keep this flower very out of reach of all animals in the home or better yet just throw it out before you even bring it into your home. Lillies are known to be one of the most toxic and dangerous house plants for cats. The whole plant is toxic and if ingested can be fatal if the pet is not immediately taken to the veterinarian. Some of the symptoms are vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, kidney failure, and finally death. If you think your cat has come in contact with a variety of lily take him/her to the vet immediately.
4) Asparagus Fern (uh·speh·ruh·guhs furn)
- Scientific name: Asparagus densiflorus cv sprengeri
- Family: Liliaceae
- Common name: Asparagus, Emerald Feather, Emerald Fern, Sprengeri Fern, Plumosa Fern, Lace Fern, Racemose Asparagus, Shatavari.
- Toxic part of the plant: Entire plant plus berries
I love how delicate this plant is and it truly is a great addition to any plant lover’s collection. It gives me a lot of ‘Jurassic park vibes’! It is not for cat lovers though as it is also moderately toxic for any feline that might come in contact with it. It can cause a lot of discomfort in the mouth and snout area if the leaves are ingested. The berries can also cause a good amount of gastric upset. Better go for another fern to keep your kitty cat happy!
5) Aloe Vera (a·low veh·ruh)
- Scientific name: Aloe vera
- Family: Liliaceae
- Common name: Aloe Vera
- Toxic part of the plant: Flesh of plant
This one really surprised me since I have grown and have had aloe’s in my home for the majority of my life. Who knew? Certainly not me. Unfortunately, it is true that the aloe vera plant can cause harm to a variety of animals, including cats. Aloe Vera which is a part of the Liliaceae family is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. The gel of the plant is considered edible but the tissue of the plant can cause vomiting in cats as well as lethargy, and diarrhea. It is also a threat to humans as well and can actually contribute to cancerous growth in people due to the latex that the plant contains. So toxic all around but it is such a sculptural plant that it would serve well in any drought-tolerant garden. Just keep it outside!
6) Begonia (buh·gow·nyuh)
- Scientific name: Begonia spp.
- Family: Begoniaceae
- Common name: Extremely wide range of species (over a thousand!) with 10,000 hybrids. AKA too many to list in this post.
- Toxic part of the plant: Soluble calcium oxalates in the plant’s juices and sap.
The begonia plant, scientific name Begonia spp. is part of the Begoniaceae family and is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses according to the ASPCA. It is toxic due to the soluble calcium oxalates that can be found within the flesh of the plant. It can cause vomiting, and salivation in cats since they cannot process calcium. They most likely will experience burning in the mouth from the needle-like microscopic crystals entering their system. The entire plant is moderately toxic but the roots are considered highly toxic.
7) Bird of Paradise (burd uhv peh·ruh·dise)
- Scientific name: Strelitzia reginae
- Common name: Crane Flower, Bird’s Tongue Flower
- Toxic part of the plant: The most toxic areas of the Bird of Paradise are the flowers but it is also dependant on the species since other varieties are more toxic than the Strelitzia reginae.
- Family: Bird of paradise
One of my absolute favorite plants to admire and grow! Unfortunately, the flowers are the most toxic part of the plant! It can cause mild nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness in cats. It is also known as the crane flower and birds tongue flower. This type of bird of paradise should not be confused with other strains such as Caesalpinia or Poinciana Gilliesii which are also known as Birds of Paradise plants but are much more toxic to your furry friends. Make sure you read those labels at nursery stores and if you aren’t sure about the strain of plants, make sure to ask!
8) Branching Ivy (bran·chuhng ai·vee)
- Scientific name: Hedera helix
- Family: Araliaceae
- Common name: English Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, California Ivy
- Toxic part of the plant: The leaves of the plant are known to be toxic to both animals and humans. The leaves can cause an allergic skin reaction if touched.
Something straight out of a fairy tale, is it not? So delicate with cute little green heart-shaped leaves with white veins. It is a fast-growing indoors as well which might be nice for newly seasoned gardeners that like to see a quick payoff from their plants. Don’t be naive though because it looks innocent but it is not! Also known as English Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, and California Ivy, this plant is part of the Araliaceae family and is toxic to dogs, cats as well as horses. The part of the plant that is toxic is called the triterpenoid “(defensive compounds against pathogenic microbes and herbivores)” (Sawai and Saito Triterpenoid biosynthesis and engineering in plants) and it can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and diarrhea. It should be noted that the berries that the plant produces are not as toxic as the foliage itself.
9) Ceriman (ceri·man)
- Scientific name: Monstera deliciosa
- Family: Araceae
- Common name: Cutleaf Philodendron, Hurricane Plant, Swiss Cheese Plant, Mexican Breadfruit
- Toxic part of the plant: The liquids and sap of the plant that includes insoluble calcium oxalates
Another beautiful plant that really gives off those tropical vibes in any space. I personally really love the big leaves of this variety of plants. Sometimes it is variegated, sometimes it is not. Either way, it is such a beautiful plant. It is such a dramatic plant to have in your living room or even bedroom if you want to feel like you are falling asleep in a tropical paradise. This is also a plant that cats really like to play hide and seek in, if you get my drift. I have heard of many a feline friend that like to burrow inside this plant because the leaves are so large that it makes them feel safe. Alas, it is also toxic due to the insoluble calcium oxalates that the plant contains. It can cause oral irritation, pain and swelling in the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. So even though it is GORGEOUS, we better not.
10) Chinese Jade (chai·neez jayd)
- Scientific name: Crassula arborescens
- Family: Crassulaceae
- Common name: Silver Jade Plant, Silver Dollar
- Toxic part of the plant: Currently unknown but it is believed that all parts of the plant are toxic to cats.
If you are a lover of succulents then this is the plant for you. But only if you don’t have any furry friends at home as it is also toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. The Chinese Jade plant is also known as the Silver Jade plant, and Silver Dollar plant. The toxic part of the plant is unknown but if your pet gets ahold of it it can cause vomiting and drunkenness in cats. It has also been known to cause tremors but is rare.
And that is all for right now! I will be updating this list over time to include every plant that is toxic to cats so it can serve as a master list for all cat owners that also love having plants in their homes.
“Alocasia.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/alocasia. “Aloe.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/aloe. “Amaryllis.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/amaryllis. “Asparagus Fern.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/asparagus-fern. “Begonia.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/begonia. “Bird of Paradise Flower.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/bird-paradise-flower. “Branching Ivy.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/branching-ivy. “Ceriman.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/ceriman. “Chinese Jade.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/chinese-jade. “How to Spot Which Lilies Are Dangerous to Cats & Plan Treatment.” ASPCApro, 2 June 2021, www.aspcapro.org/resource/how-spot-which-lilies-are-dangerous-cats-plan-treatment. Sawai, Satoru, and Kazuki Saito. “Triterpenoid Biosynthesis and Engineering in Plants.” Frontiers in Plant Science, Frontiers Research Foundation, 30 June 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3355669/#:~:text=Triterpenoid%20saponins%20are%20a%20diverse,applications%20in%20addition%20to%20medicinally.