Plants That Are Poisonous to Cats

Have you wondered about what plants are poisonous to cats? Plants can add a certain ambiance to your home, and some are even great for cats to chew on or hide in. But quite a few are toxic to cats and can be deadly. Here is a list of some common houseplants that are toxic to cats.


If ingested, jade plants, also known as jade trees or Chinese rubber plants, can cause vomiting, depression, or ataxia. It is not currently known what component of this plant is toxic, but it’s best to keep this plant out of your house completely as it’s leaves fall off quite easily and cats like playing with small things.

Snake Plant:

The snake plant is also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue as it can numb or burn the mouth. In addition to this, it has a bitter taste, so one bite is usually enough to deter cats from trying again. It’s unlikely that ingestion of a snake plant will result in death, but if you suspect your cat has taken a nibble out of one, take them to the vet just to be sure.


While gorgeous, these blossoming beauties should be kept far far away from cats as even the pollen can be deadly. There are many types of lilies, but when it comes to plants poisonous to cats, these are toxic to our feline friends. They can cause vomiting, dehydration, increased urination followed by a lack of urination, lethargy, and a loss of appetite. If you notice your cat has ingested part of a lily, take them to the vet immediately. While there is no antidote to lily poisoning, there are treatments that can save your cat’s life.

Aloe Vera:

While Aloe has a myriad of benefits for humans, it should be kept away from cats. It contains several different saponins which increase the production of water and mucus in your cat’s colon, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, cramping, and a loss of appetite. The gel inside isn’t toxic, but the leafy casing is. If you like keeping aloe on hand for yourself, make sure it’s away from little kitty paws.

English Ivy:

Similar to Aloe Vera, English Ivy contains those troublesome saponins. It causes similar symptoms and because it has a tendency to crawl into unexpected places, it’s best to keep them out of your cat’s home.

Asparagus Fern:

The asparagus fern, also known as an emerald feather or lace fern, is another culprit containing saponins, which means it can cause gastrointestinal issues if ingested. Unlike Aloe and Ivy, however, the asparagus fern can cause skin irritation in the form of swelling and blisters if your kitty rubs against it.

Fig Trees:

Also known as a rubber plant, ficus, or fiddle-leaf fig, the fig tree is a plant that is poisonous to cats not only when ingested, but also if the tree’s sap gets on your cat’s skin. Contact of the sap with skin can cause irritation, while ingestion can cause irritation in the mouth and gastrointestinal problems resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.


Poinsettias are one of the more commonly known plants toxic to cats, although they are not quite as toxic as we are led to believe. It’s unlikely poinsettia ingestion will lead to death. The most common side effects of ingestion are mild vomiting and drooling, and occasionally, diarrhea. The sap can also cause irritation to the skin if it comes into contact, but there is no need to banish this Christmas beauty from your home forever. As long as it’s kept away from your cat, it’s safe to keep in the house.


This one may come as a surprise, but catnip can be toxic to cats in large quantities, especially when fresh. It’s safe in toys or beds, but if you have a catnip plant your cat likes to chew on, it’s best to get rid of it and get your cat checked out by a vet. Symptoms of ingesting too much catnip include vomiting and diarrhea.

Bonus – Spider Plant:

Spider plants are not actually toxic to cats but can be a cause of concern for many owners. When ingested, the spider plant has a hallucinogenic effect on cats, similar to catnip. However, some of the compounds are similar to those in Opioids, so eating too much can result in vomiting or diarrhea. Other side effects include being overly jumpy and enthusiastic or taking an intense interest in one thing (light on the ground, a bug, a ghost in the corner that only they can see, etc.). Though not toxic, spider plants should really be kept out of reach of cats.

This is not an extensive list by any means, so make sure to do research before bringing a new plant into your cat’s environment. If you suspect your cat has ingested any of the plants above, contact your vet as soon as possible.

Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital (OVSH) has been serving the Portland and Beaverton area community since 1979. Dr. Robert T. Franklin (Internal medicine) welcomes referrals from veterinarians all over the Pacific Northwest. Our goal is to help your pet regain health and live a long and happy life.

Oregon Veterinary Specialty Hospital

9339 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy,
Beaverton, OR 97005.

Phone: 503.292.3001
Fax: 503.292.6808
Email: [email protected]