15 Houseplants that are Toxic for Cats

Cats are particularly attracted to certain plants and tend to nibble on leaves and stems. As a gardener, it is important to be mindful of the plants you choose to grow, especially if you have pets. While many plants can add beauty and vibrancy to your garden, some can be toxic to cats and pose a potential health risk.

It’s important to make sure that the houseplants you have are safe for cats. There are certain plants that are toxic to these animals, so it’s important to know which ones you need to watch out for.

In this article, we’ve put together a list of 15 houseplants that are toxic to cats and what to do if your cat ingests one. Let’s take a look!

How are Plants Toxic to Cats?

a cat nibbling a plant

Plants can be toxic to cats in several ways. Some plants contain chemical compounds that can cause physical harm, while others may irritate the skin or eyes. Ingesting toxic plants can cause a range of symptoms, from mild digestive upset to organ damage or even death.

Cats are particularly susceptible to plant toxins because they are curious and may nibble on plants out of curiosity or boredom. Additionally, cats lack the enzymes needed to break down some plant toxins, making them more vulnerable to harmful effects.

Lilies (Genus lilium)


True lilies are extremely toxic plants for cats, some of the most dangerous types being Easter lilies, Asiatic stargazers, Japanese show, tiger, western, red, rubrum, and wood lilies. Another harmful variety of lilies is the daylily.

The lesser toxic varieties of lily include calla lily, peace lily, and Peruvian lilies, which contain oxalate crystals. Oxalate is responsible for causing irritation to the mouth and tissues in the oral cavity, which can cause drooling in cats.

Early Signs of Toxicity

True lilies are severely toxic, so if your cat ingests it, these symptoms can show up in just about 2-4 hours after. You should contact the nearest vet as soon as possible, or otherwise, it can result in severe kidney damage.

 The earliest signs to look out for are:

  • diarrhea
  • increased thirst
  • excessive drooling
  • vomiting
  • lethargy
  • abdominal discomfort

If left untreated, the symptoms will worsen, and your cat could also experience the following:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata or Dracaena trifasciata)

snake plant

The fleshy texture of this plant attracts cats towards it. Being a popular houseplant, snake plants can become 2’ to 4’ high and have leaves with a snake-like appearance. This plant is just mildly toxic for cats. If ingested, some symptoms may appear within 4 hours of ingestion, but some may take as long as 8-12 hours.

Symptoms of Snake-Plant Poisoning

  • drooling
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • loss of appetite
  • change in energy level
  • diarrhea
  • hiding
  • swelling of the mouth, tongue, or lips

Sago Palm (Cysads, Cardboard Palm, Zamias, Coontie Palm)

a sago palm

This is a deadly plant for cats, which is a well-loved houseplant that is usually grown outside patios or is placed inside the house and is popular as a landscaping plant. If your cat happens to ingest sago palms, your cat will start to experience the symptoms within 15 minutes to 3 or 4 hours. Even if there was the aggressive treatment provided, the survival rate for a cat that had ingested sago palms would be almost 50%.

Symptoms of Sago Poisoning

  • Increased thirst
  • Bloody stool
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice (the skin and eyes becoming yellow)

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis or Barbados aloe)

aloe vera plants

People prize the aloe vera plant for its benefits to skin and hair, but it contains a compound called saponins, which is toxic to cats. The gastrointestinal bacteria in cats take some time to metabolize the toxin, thus the symptoms appear within a few hours after chewing the plant.

Symptoms of Aloe Vera poisoning

Aloe Vera causes mild to moderate toxicity in cats, with the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach discomfort

Amaryllis (Amaryllis)

red amaryllis

All parts of this plant contain an alkaloid, responsible for causing a drop in blood pressure, vomiting, and shallow or difficulty breathing if ingested by the cats. The bulb is the most dangerous part of this plant, as it contains raphide oxalate crystals which are needle-sharp, and responsible for causing irritation, oral pain, and discomfort in the cat.

Cats experience oral irritation the moment they lick or chew the bulb, the rest of the symptoms may take 2-4 hours to appear in the cat.

Symptoms of Amaryllis Poisoning

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Tenderness and pain in the abdomen
  • Change in energy level
  • Excessive drooling
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Lack of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Shaking

Marijuana (Cannabis, Mary Jane, Pot)

a weed plant

The symptoms of Marijuana ingestion produce well-known sedative effects in humans. But in animals, it results in toxicity, from mild to severe. It depends on the ingested produce, but symptoms may appear within minutes of ingestion, or may take about 2 hours to appear.

Symptoms of Marijuana Poisoning

  • Diluted pupils
  • Dribbling urine
  • Uncoordinated gait (a condition called ataxia)
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Slowed heart rate (a condition called bradycardia)
  • Tremors

Cyclamen (Cyclamen)

differently colored cyclamen plants

Cyclamen bears beautiful flowers in the winter season, but be aware, the entire plant is deadly for cats. The highest amount of the toxic substance saponins are present in the tubers, or the parts below the soil. If the cat nibbles the tubers, then symptoms appear immediately, while the other parts of the plant cause an onset of symptoms after several hours of ingestion.

Symptoms of Cyclamen Poisoning

If the cat ingests a small quantity of Cyclamen plant above the ground, then it experiences the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling

Ingesting large amounts of this plant, particularly the parts underground, causes the following in cats:

  • Seizures
  • Cardiac problems, including irregular heartbeat (a condition called arrhythmias)
  • Death

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

a jade plant

Also known as “money tree” or “friendship tree,”, the jade plant is toxic to cats. It contains a toxin called bufadienolides, which can have negative effects for your cat. If you suspect that your cat has ingested jade plant or any other toxic plant, it’s important to seek veterinary attention immediately, although it is believed that milk is a great remedy. Symptoms may appear within 1-4 hours of ingestion but may not be so prominent to be observed.

Symptoms of Jade Poisoning

  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Stumbling or uncoordinated gate
  • Lethargy

Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

asparagus ferns

The fine foliage of asparagus fern makes it useful in floral arrangements and as a beautiful houseplant but it has some levels of mild toxicity to cats. Gastrointestinal symptoms may appear within hours of ingestion, while repeated dermal exposure may take a few weeks or months to affect the cat’s skin.

Symptoms of Asparagus Fern Poisoning

Continual exposure to the skin can cause allergic dermatitis. If the cat eats barriers of the asparagus fern, then it results in gastrointestinal upset. The symptoms of which are:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea

Ceriman (Monstera deliciosa)

a philodendron plant

Also known as Cut-leaf philodendron, Hurricane Plant, Swiss Cheese Plant, or Mexican Breadfruit, the tropical appearance of this plant makes them a beautiful addition to the house. The leaves and stems of this plant are moderately toxic to cats due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals. Oral irritation is observed immediately after chewing or biting the plant, while gastrointestinal signs may appear 2-4 hours after ingestion.

Symptoms of Ceriman Poisoning

Severe irritation of the mouth can cause swelling of the face, tongue, and lips. If the skin meets the sap, then it can develop irritation. Other symptoms are:

  • Occasional vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Crying out because of pain and discomfort
  • Pawing at the mouth and face

Sweetheart Ivy (Hedera helix)

sweetheart ivy on a wall

Popular for its heart-shaped leaves, the leaves of sweetheart ivy are more toxic to cats as compared to the plant’s berries. Some symptoms may appear after 4-8 hours of ingestion, while some may develop after 12 hours of ingestion.

Symptoms of Sweetheart Ivy Poisoning

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Corn Plant (Dracaena)

corn plants

The saponins compound in this plant is toxic to the cat if ingested. It may take several hours for symptoms to appear after ingestion.

Symptoms of Dracaena Poisoning

  • Change in energy level
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Mental dullness
  • Vomiting, may contain blood
  • Dilated pupils

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

oleander plant

All parts of the plant, including the leaves, flowers, stems, and even the sap, contain a toxic substance called oleandrin, which can cause severe health problems or even death in cats if ingested. In general, symptoms of oleander poisoning in cats can appear within a few hours to several days after ingestion.

Symptoms of Oleander Poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Seizures or coma in severe cases.

Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)

pinkish autumn crocus flowers

This plant contains a toxic substance called colchicine, which can cause severe health problems or even death in cats if ingested. If you suspect that your cat has ingested any part of an autumn crocus or any other toxic plant, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately.  

Symptoms of Autumn Crocus Poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heart rate, tremors
  • Seizures or organ failure in severe cases.

Other plants that may be toxic to cats would be tulips, daffodils, azaleas and rhododendrons, English ivy, cyclamen, castor bean, and yew.

FAQ’s about Toxic Household Plants

1. Can you have houseplants with cats?

Yes, but choose non-toxic plants, keep them out of reach, and watch for signs of nibbling or chewing.

2. Will cats eat toxic houseplants?

Yes, cats are curious and may nibble on plants, including toxic ones, which can cause health issues or even be fatal.

3. Are succulents toxic to cats?

Some succulents, such as aloe vera and jade plants, are toxic to cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

4. Are bamboo poisonous to cats?

Bamboo plants are not considered poisonous to cats, but nibbling on them can still cause gastrointestinal upset and discomfort.

5. Is Lavender toxic for cats?

Yes, lavender can be toxic to cats and cause vomiting, loss of appetite, and other symptoms if ingested in large amounts.

The Take-Away

As a gardener and pet owner, it’s important to be mindful of the plants you choose to grow and ensure that they are safe for your cats. While the above list is not exhaustive, it highlights some of the more common toxic plants that may be found in a garden.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested a toxic plant, seek veterinary attention immediately. By taking a proactive approach to pet safety in the garden, you can enjoy the beauty of your plants while keeping your furry friends healthy and happy.

If you’ve got a dog as well, you might want to check out which houseplants are toxic to dogs. Here’s our article on the topic.