Did you hear that plantlady is the new catlady? Sounds funny, right? But actually, we believe that you can be both! (and pssstttt, we also believe that there are also quite a few crazy plantmen out there!). With the right tips & tricks you can live successfully with both plants and cats. But how? Every time we share a photo on our Instagram account of a home with houseplants and one or more cats, we receive so many questions about it. How do people make sure the cats don’t destroy the plants and how do you know if plants are toxic to cats? We decided to ask some help from our fellow plantlovers and catlovers on Instagram. So here we go!
Some background info about our Instagram Panel of 31 plant & cat lovers:
They come from all around the world: different states in the US, Sweden, Hungary, Spain, Holland, Brazil, France, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Belgium, Indonesia and Denmark. 35% of them own between 16 and 40 plants, 35% between 41 and 75 plants and 20% have more than 100 plants! Half of the respondents has 1 cat and most of the others have 2 cats (one even has 5 cats). More than half of the respondents have cats that check out the plants every now and then but mostly leave them alone. 35% Have a cat that is obsessed with some specific plants and likes to nibble on the leaves. Two respondents have true plant destroying cats.
Never assume that cats instinctively know what plants are toxic for them. Our cats are domesticated animals and knowing what is good or bad for them is not necessarily part of their experience. Some cats are not interested in plants at all and can be left alone in a room with toxic plants without any problems, but if you’re the parent of a furry feline that loves to nibble on fresh plant leaves, make sure to avoid these plants:
• Sago Palm and other Cycads
• Any bulb plants, like Lillies, Hyacinth, Daffodil, Amaryllis
• Asparagus fern
• Oxalis triangularis
• Monstera deliciosa
This list is not complete and please always check if your plants are toxic! Also note, that for most plants your cat would have to ingest a substantial amount to become ill.
25% of the cats from our Instagram Panel once ate a toxic plant. For most of them nothing happened (fortunately!), but most cats did throw up the ingested leaves. Sad stories of cats eating plants and dying do exist (we receive messages about that very often), so be careful. Better be safe than sorry!
Plants recommended by the plant- and catlovers from our panel:
• Hanging plants (out of reach, if your cat can reach it, they are attractive because of the movement)
• Kentia palms (some cats love to eat juicy sweet palm leaves, which destroys them)
• Lemon & olive trees
• Cacti (although they can hurt the cats with their spines!)
• Echeveria and Haworthia succulents
• Peperomia (the cats don’t like the taste!)
• Tillandsia air plants
• Strelitzia (mildly toxic)
• Plants with big leaves (less tempting)
• Staghorn ferns (can be mounted and hung out of reach)
We asked our Instagram Panel about their tips on how to live successfully with plants and cats. These are their best tips and tricks:
• Start with plants that are non toxic to cats and observe how your cats behave with them. Make certain rooms off limits to the cats to keep more toxic plants.
• Put your plants in a place where the cats can’t reach them, for example on a fridge or plantshelfie. Or in a room that you can close when you are not around to watch your cat’s behavior.
• Use plant hangers to hang plants from the ceiling where your cats can’t reach it. Or use wall-pots (only works if your cats are not too acrobatic!)
• Make sure if you put a plant up high, that there is no way for your cat to jump up there. No empty space for your cat on the #plantshelfie or he or she may tip over a planter.
• Use plant pots that have enough weight, so that your cat can’t tip them over.
• If my cat was more of a curious taste tester I would suggest putting the plants on higher shelving with no snuggle room for cats. Make another perch spot, as I like to call them, for your kitty so they’ll still feel like they own the house instead of you.
• Teach them when young not to bother them! Behold the power of a spray bottle.
• Find an essential oil scent that your cat hates. Most cats dislike citrus. Place a citrus essential oil around the area where you keep your plants, or on each individual pot. This should deter your cat from wanting to play with, eat, or otherwise destroy your plants.
• Give your feline friends their own cat grass, catnip, edible foliage or wheat grass! Place this close to your (non toxic) plants at ground level, so that they have easy access (before they reach your expensive houseplants).
• Prune growing plants regularly so they don’t get too long and turn into play toys for your cats.
• Keep your more delicate plants inside a terrarium.
• I keep my plants that I’m propagating in water safe for her too, otherwise she will take the plant out of the water so she can drink it!
• I also try not to leave any water on my plant trays because my cat loves to play with water.
• Play with your cats and tire them out. A happy and tired cat will leave your plants alone.
• Cut chicken wire and lay it flat on top of the soil. This will prevent your cat from digging up the soil and making a huge mess or using it as a litter box. You can also use some larger stones or gems to (partly) cover the soil.
• Provide a clean litter box and a nice scratching pole, so that they have everything they need and doesn’t use your plants as a litter box or pole.
• Accept that your cats will nibble on (some of) your houseplants and that they won’t look its best with some cat scars. Learn to live with your imperfect plants. After all, it’s your cat’s home too!
“I find that larger leaf plants, like the fiddle leaf are good because they are too large for a cat to really care for. Some plants are good for cats! I actually have an indoor herb garden for them to chew on. It’s good for their digestive systems!”
“I was home from work for hours, relaxing, hanging out with my cat when suddenly her ears perk up and we both hear a rustling in my plant collection in the living room. Somehow the neighbour’s cat had gotten in before I went to work and had been hanging out in my plants for hours without us knowing! You never know what’s lurking in the jungle.”
“Sometimes my cats really just like to snif and go through the leafs. I have also had some cat grass and other plants that’s good for the cats to eat from. It’s in the cat’s nature to be outside and wild so I try to have plants and pine cones, to trigger their nature side.”
“Whenever I bring a new plant home, which happens quite regularly, my cat looks at it for a bit, and then looks at me, as if to say “Really? Another one?”“
“I put the cat grass in front of a mirror. My cat usually puts his whole head in the plant to show his love and affection, but once scared himself to death when he saw a cat emerging from his plant in the mirror! Poor thing!”
“At first we grew a cat lawn for our cat to eat the grass, therefore we didn’t think of the size of the low pot. One day when the grass was almost fully grown, we found him sleeping on it, and he sleeps there for a little while everyday! It was just hilarious to see him change the purpose of his gift.”
“My boy cat is quite a rebel. He love the “punch” the leaf on plants. He sits by the plant and with one paw he starts beating the leaf (forcing the leaf down), and he does this over and over and over and over until I get mad and take him away from the plant. He knows so well that I don’t like when he does that, he always makes eye contact when he starts beating. Lol.”
“I was so proud of my first ever Spider plant baby. It finally rooted after a couple of busted attempts. I put it in his own little pot. And the next morning I woke up with my cat Moos sitting above my head, who brought me a present. Yup! My baby spider plant. Ripped it right out of the pot and wrecked the roots with his teeth. Sigh*. Ever since then Moos loves to rip tiny plants out of the ground. So all of the baby plants are safely in an Ikea Socker greenhouse.”
“Our cat Simba had a favorite spot for a long time, a pot with old soil in it. There used to be a Bromelia in there but he crushed it with his butt. We didn’t think to throw it out yet, and Simba kept his spot. After a long time my husband said to me, I think Simba is breeding something, we lifted his tail and a new Bromelia was coming up from the pot under his butt.”
Thanks to all the contributors for helping put together this blogpost!
Check out all these plant and cat lovers on Instagram:
@avalonbotanique – @callieharrisonn – @is_adorable – @aentschie – @guvencg – @alexandra.broman – @the.tropical.room – @dsousadesign – @JuliaAndrsn – @raepete – @personalcheesus – @anne_kohnke – @plantshapes – @unieque_nl – @jordoncloud – @plantqueenrayray – @thesubcreative – @awjohnson_ – @Line_vanvoorden – @frozentezzz – @hildakruuse – @pernillllllee – @botanicalsandbillie – @casaprotea – @katinkafeijs – @labradorite.boy – @hookandstem – @elysekrism – @therealdianabongers – @fryfold – @joelixjoelix