Beautiful and non-toxic
6 striking plants that are safe for households with cats
February 11, 2020
Is there a method to your cat’s madness? It may not always seem so, but occasionally owners can ascertain the reasons for their feline’s funny little quirks. Cats that can’t leave potted plants alone, for example, but insist on sampling every green leaf that makes its way into a home, may be looking for variety in their diet. Interestingly, they could also be ingesting vegetable matter as a way of dealing with hairballs. Plants’ tough, fibrous leaves act as an emetic in these scenarios, causing the cat to vomit in order to purge themselves of hairballs. Of course, it’s also quite possible that mischievous kitties munch on houseplants for the sheer joy of annoying their owners. Even if your feline friend has never shown any interest in checking out that windowsill salad bar, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. Make sure your home is free of plants that are potentially harmful and instead bring home some beautiful, unusual, and most importantly, non-toxic plants to spruce up your space.
To those who live in a cold climate, winter can feel not only long, but dreary and gray. Bamboo palms are the perfect plant to combat the cold-weather blues. This large floor plant will lend a lush, tropical vibe to any space, and they won’t demand tons of time or attention. Pair a bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) with furniture or furnishings in a vibrant, cheerful color to remind yourself of sunnier days. (Think throw blankets and fluffy pillows in shades of aqua and azure, for example, or a bright coral sofa.) Water the palm when the soil’s surface is dry to the touch, check its leaves for mites every so often, and you will be good to go. Bamboo palms are safe for ingestion by dogs or cats. This plant loves bright light (but will also make do with less sunshine, if necessary), needs to be watered only occasionally, and is otherwise fairly hands-off.
In comparison to the damage done by a venomous rattlesnake, its namesake plant is perfectly harmless to cats and dogs. It also happens to be gorgeous, with light-green leaves that bear a striking pattern in darker green on top, but turn to a complementary reddish-purple underneath. Best of all, this plant—which is variously known as Calathea lancifolia and Goeppertia insignis—isn’t as high-maintenance as many other exotic houseplants can be. It grows best in low- to medium- and indirect light. The zebra plant’s soil should be kept moist and never allowed to dry out thoroughly between waterings. Do note that this plant is especially sensitive to adulterated or heavily mineralized water. To be on the safe side, give it filtered or distilled water, or better yet, collect rainwater for all of your indoor plants to drink.
Haworthia fasciata, aka the zebra plant, is a small, slow-growing South African succulent. Not to be confused with the wide-leafed Aphelandra squarrosa, also nicknamed the zebra plant, Haworthia has thick spear-shaped leaves that are similar to those of an aloe vera plant. It boasts white stripes against a dark-green background, and is a tiny little plant, maxing out at around 8 inches high. The zebra plant is a typical succulent when it comes to some aspects of care and feeding. Ues hte “soak and dry”method of watering, leaving the soil to dry out completely before giving the plant any more water. Don’t leave zebra plants outdoors if your temperature regularly dips below 30℉. Unlike many succulents, this houseplant does pretty well in low- to medium-light conditions. Its spiky leaves will probably deter your feline family members, but on the off chance Kitty takes a nibble, you don’t need to worry about its toxicity.
Money may not grow on trees, more’s the pity, but a money tree (Pachira aquatica) can make your environment rich with beauty. Thanks to their braided trunks and shiny green leaves, which flutter with the barest of breezes, money trees are appealing to adventurous felines. While snacking on this tropical plant won’t do your pets any lasting harm, it could very well cause an upset stomach and other digestive issues. A word to the wise: the jade plant, which is toxic to cats, (Crassula ovata) is also referred to in terms of currency. Pachira aquatica is a “money tree” while Crassula ovata is known as the “money plant.” They don’t look very similar, so it should be fairly easy to know which is which when you’re plant shopping. Like most tropical plants, Pachira aquatica is fairly flexible and can thrive in conditions ranging from full sun to almost full shade. Its soil should be kept moist.
Bird’s nest fern
This is not your grandmother’s—or Zach Galifianakis’s—fern. Bird’s nest ferns come in several different varieties, but all are easily identifiable. That’s because the leaves of the bird’s nest fern feature a beautiful ruffled edge. Some of these fronds are a few inches wide and with the wavy edge, they resemble a lasagna noodle. Others bring to mind a large head of leafy green lettuce. Despite their edible appearance, bird’s nest ferns aren’t going to taste very good to humans. However, if your cats happen to find them irresistible, there’s no cause for concern, as this plant is non-toxic to critters. Choose a bird’s nest fern if you have a north-facing window that would deliver indirect sunlight.
Last on our list of houseplants that present no danger to our furry, purring companions is the moth orchid (Phalaenopsis blume). Don’t panic—although orchids are notoriously finicky and difficult to cultivate indoors, the moth orchid is one of the easiest to care for. What little work you do put in will be richly rewarded come late winter or early spring, when it blooms. The annual blooms of the moth orchid can be white, pink, yellow, or purple. They are sometimes patterned with contrasting speckles for an even more eye-catching appearance. Position your moth orchid plant in or close to an east-facing window so that it can receive plenty of bright but indirect light. These houseplants often thrive when planted in bark or sphagnum moss, which should be left to dry completely. (Orchids, in general, don’t take kindly to overwatering.)