tropical plant in a cats' home?

lutiAugust 25, 2006


I'm new here so forgive me if I'm missing a few things. (Plus it's quite early in the morning and I'm not quite awake :-)

I bought a gorgeous large Schefflera yesterday and then at 4:30 AM realized/remembered that it is poisonous to cats. To verify this, I checked some posts from this forum, including a very helpful one by Violet_Z6, so I put the plant away right off before I return it to the store later today. My cats did come up to it as soon as we brought it in, but I warned them with a stern voice to stay away from it ;-) Luckily, neither Kernel nor Spooky seemed to have chewed on it, so all's well by now.

However ... I still would very much like to have a nice, large tropical plant in this place in the living room, of course something that would be harmless to our kitties.

I would very much appreciate any and all suggestions!


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I have a Draceana marginata that I don't believe is poisonous, but if I were you I would google for some lists of what is safe and what isn't. My sister-in-law lost a cat to plant poisoning, it really does happen.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 7:26AM
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I have more exotic species of plants growing than the local botanical gardens. My poisonous ones include orleander, diffenbachia, and euphobia. I also have two cats and have had one or more cats now for over 20 years. My cats also regularly go outside. I have never had a cat get sick from any of my plants. One of my cats was born with a muscular distrophy, and wasn't supposed to live past the first month; she died of old age two years ago. I wouldn't worry about the Schefflera.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 2:04PM
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canttype(0b (Cold North))

I agree ....I personally do not worry about my cats and my plants (and mine are much more toxic than a scheff!) and the same goes for kids! If they are taught right away that they are to look at and not touch, they should all live happy long lives:-)


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 2:35PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


If you're new to this, pls. note that 'poisonous' or 'toxic' are relative terms. Maybe overused & can indicate anything from upset stomach to much more serious.

Pls. note how very many of these folks grow both plants & cats w/out much problem, they (who love them both dearly) would not steer you wrong, esp. on this.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 3:38PM
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I live in a house with between 80 and 100 plants at any given time. I also have two cats who are six and seven years old. Even though quite a few of my plants are poisonous there has never been a problem. They pretty much leave everything alone. Sure I will find bite marks in the Christmas cactus, monstera, oxalis and the few others. They have never got sick from it. The only plants that I have a problem with is anything that looks like grass. They will not leave my palms and spider plants alone. Those plants I have to put up out of there their reach or they will devour them.

I would suggest that you watch your kitties closely and see if they leave the plants alone. Unless they are devouring it like it was salad, I wouldn't worry about it. A few teeth marks here and there is not a problem.

As pirate girl said, lots of us have cats and plants in the same house. We would do nothing that would harm our cats.

I hope this helps,


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 6:41PM
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lmcd(Z6 Ontario)

Hi. I have plant-chewing cats and am kind of paranoid about bringing poisonous plants into the house, which really limits what I can buy. (I also try to avoid non-poisonous plants that seem to be obviously coated in pesticide--just in case they get chewed. )You might want to try a Norfolk Island Pine if you want a large, non-poisonous plant.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 9:47PM
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I've always had cats and other pets as well as potentially toxic plants. My cats do like to chew on plants but have never gnawed on any of the poisonous ones. I think they either have a "sense" of what is harmful or get a taste and leave it alone.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 5:17PM
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harlgr8dane(5b ON)

As mentioned earlier, there are cats who don't seem to be interested in chewing or eating housplants. Many common houseplants can be highly toxic to cats. In fact, some may cause kidney failure and death. If you have cats and toxic plants, minimize the chance of their exposure when possible (close room doors, hang plants, consider bitter sprays - which are not harmful to the plant - to deter chewing. Unfortunately, cats do not 'have a sense' of what is harmful, and in reality, cats are treated for toxic plant exposure frequently.

Here is a link for plants which are non-toxic:

and those known to be toxic:

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 4:10PM
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House plants can be a real danger to your cats. About a year ago I came home to find one of my cats laying on the floor, in obviously bad shape & unresponsive. I rushed her to the vet. She was in anaphalytic shock. Thankfully, my vet was able to save her, but if I'd been 10 or 15 minutes later getting home she would have died. That evening I found where she had been chewing on a plant I'd only had for a couple of days. I believe it was called a "coffee plant"?

Just a few days ago, another of my cats chewed on a new philodendron I have. He has had bloody diarrhea for 3 days and is battling dehydration. He's on medication and seems to be getting better.

Don't take a chance. Some cats just seem to get into more trouble than others.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 6:23PM
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I just read that asperagus fern, rubber plant, and schefflera are toxic to cats. I have all of these plants and my cats do chew occasionally on plants, so now I grow cat grass for them, got 3 lbs seed on ebay for next to nothing. Just wondering if anyone has tried one of the bitter sprays to repel cats on the plants. I live in a north facing apt. so have mainly low light type plants. Also, any suggestions for low light safe plants.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 11:37AM
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