Are spider plants toxic to cats? In spite of looking like long green cat toys bouncing in the air, the spider plant is safe for cats. In this post, we’re going to talk about spider plants and cats as well as other houseplants. We’re also going to show you how to grow a cat garden and even how to create a catio that you can enjoy together.
What is a catio? Hint: it sounds like the word “patio” because it’s a combination patio and outdoor dream hideaway designed just for cats. It features hidey-holes, structures for climbing, sunny spots to sleep, cat-safe plants, toys, and other goodies to satisfy their natural inclination to chew, play, sniff, paw, track, and explore. More about catios shortly.
The Mind of the Cat
The first cats appeared tens of millions of years ago. With retractable claws, muscular flexible bodies, and specialized flesh-tearing teeth, they’re built to catch prey. Their vision, hearing, and sense of smell are many times more powerful than humans’. They’ve adapted to every climate on earth. And they’re smart. Curious, observant, creative, patient, calculating, and capable of learning new skills.
Fortunately for humans, cats are also cute, funny, sociable, and affectionate. They’re the most common pet in the world and have been hanging with humans for more than 10,000 years. They first became associated with divinity in ancient Egypt. Unlike dogs, they haven’t changed much in spite of their alliance with us.
In spite of how they sometimes behave, they don’t need to be worshipped. Don’t let them manipulate you! They do have some specific needs that need to be fulfilled to stay healthy and happy. In addition to a healthful diet–more about that in a moment–clean water, exercise, and a chemical-free environment with natural litter, they have several psychological needs:
- Exposure to their natural outdoor environment including plants and other animals
- Companionship, socialization, and affection
- Mental stimulation and enrichment
- Freedom to explore, play, and satisfy their natural prey drive
You asked the question, “Are spider plants toxic to cats?” We’re going to answer that question in more detail right now.
Why Do Cats Eat Grass & What Is the Natural Cat Diet?
Want to know the truth? So do the cat experts! They aren’t precisely sure why cats eat grass. It could be to induce vomiting to rid the stomach of an irritant. It could be to take in extra nutrients. It could be to help the intestines do their job. It could be to provide a change in taste to increase eating pleasure. Or all of the above.
Are spider plants toxic to cats? No, and since they’re not, don’t worry if your cat nibbles on your spider plant from time to time. As you’ll read shortly, you can grow grasses and other plants just for your cats to nibble.
Different from dogs, cats are “obligate carnivores,” meaning that they’re obligated to function as prey-eating animals to survive. In the wild, cats don’t just eat muscle meat, but also the tissues and organs of their prey. Each part contains different nutrients. Eating the contents of the stomach and intestines provides plant material and fiber.
In fact, an increasing number of people are learning about the benefits of the BARF diet for their pets: Biologically Appropriate Raw Fgood that includes a variety of fresh, unprocessed natural foods formulated to meet the needs of each individual pet. All critters, including humans, need individualized diets depending on their species, age, weight, activity level, medical status, and other factors such as allergies.
Cats’ Need for Plants–Is It Medicinal?
Even though cats are mostly carnivores thriving on meat, they also need some plant material in their diets. Most of us have seen our cats enjoy grass, catnip, marigolds, vegetables, and even fruits. Outside grass offers invisible pleasures of which humans are unaware: insects and their eggs and larvae … scents from cats and other animals leaving their “calling cards” … bits from prey animals such as birds and rodents ….
Exploring a variety of scents, flavors, and textures is a natural mammal behavior that enriches your pets’ lives. So, are spider plants toxic to cats? Although anything in excess can be dangerous, feline nutritionists haven’t found any toxins in spider plants.
Speaking of enrichment, spider plants offer you a creative way to help meet a cat’s natural need to be around plants. We already mentioned the nutritional and medicinal benefits. Plants can provide a comfy shelter for napping and nesting.
In addition, plants provide cover for a mighty hunter stalking prey. Think of all the times you’ve seen your cat lurking in the shadows, pupils widening in anticipation of attacking. In the case of little baby spider plants bouncing off long stems sprouting from the parent plant, your Chlorophytum comosum is pretty tempting to your feline hunter or huntress. Having an opportunity for excitement is actually calming for your cat.
Cats and the Great Outdoors
Cats are not human infants. Cats are intelligent predators. For their psychological wellbeing, they need to be able to use all of their senses and while exploring. If you’ve ever observed very young kittens, then you know that they begin tracking and pouncing as early as four weeks after birth.
They’re instinctively driven to investigate the boundaries of their world. They need to develop awareness of the natural day and night cycles of light in different seasons. They also need to experience how weather changes affect the animals and plants around them.
What about sunshine? Cats don’t need sunlight for vitamin D the way humans do because they get it from their food. However, it helps them regulate their body temperature. Its heat is relaxing and soothing. The ultraviolet rays in sunshineare known to kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces and in the air.
In The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat, Juliette de Baïracli Levy wrote that “sunlight is not merely a tonic and restorative and a potent destroyer of bacteria; it is also a vital food.” We don’t know if cats experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) from a lack of natural light in the same way humans can. We do know that sunlight exposure stimulates endorphins and neurotransmitters that regulate mood. John Denver knew what he was talking about.
Cats and the Great Indoors
Your cat needs to have his or her own territory within your shared home. Pets need sheltered places to sleep, open areas to play and exercise, and mind-stimulating opportunities to climb or hide. Even indoor cats have the desire to look for potential prey as well as to check out what other neighborhood cats are up to.
You can understand how a window ledge in your home is the feline version of social media. Live cat-safe plants will contribute to a sense of the outdoors. Are spider plants toxic to cats? Just the opposite: they help clean the usually-stuffy indoor air since most ventilation systems don’t introduce frequent fresh air changes from outside.
Creating an Indoor Cat Garden
What exactly is an indoor cat garden? It’s a way for you to bring a bit of the outside inside so your cat can enjoy the benefits without the dangers. The optimum set-up is a surface where your cat can hang out, watch the outside world, and nibble on green goodies. Year-round you can grow plants that your cat can freely access, or you can create a separate off-limits garden where you cultivate special little crops that you present to your cat as needed.
Or you can do both. Be sure to get soils without pesticides, fertilizers, or weedkillers, and choose organically grown plants. Since you can see your cat’s point of view about the importance of an indoor cat garden or room, you can come up with your own creative ways to provide for a cat’s need for plants.
Plants that Are Good for Cats
We love our furbabies so much that we often forget that they evolved in the wilds, surviving in a world of many different plants. Here are several indoor/outdoor selections that are safe, helpful, and pleasing:
Houseplants to Avoid
Are spider plants toxic to cats? Not a bit, but many of our most common houseplants are. Even though not all cats are interested in chewing on houseplants, you never know when your furry pal is going to go after a crawling bug. Here’s a partial list of potentially dangerous plants:
- Amaryllis (Hippeastrum species)
- Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia amoena)
- English ivy (Hedera helix)
- Holly (Ilex opaca)
- Jade plant (Crassula)
- Mistletoe (Viscum album)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
- Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima): The milky latex sap is irritating but the risk of poisoning has been exaggerated.
- Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
- Sago palm (Cycas revoluta): These sharp-leaved palms have survived over 200 million years in part because their effective toxin could kill dinosaurs!
- Snake plant/mother-in-law’s tongue (Dracaena trifasciata)
- Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)
If you’re too late for prevention, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. There may be a consultation fee.
How Often to Take a Cat to the Vet
As long as we’re focusing on the physical, mental, and emotional health of your cat as well as preventing and handling certain emergencies, have you ever wondered how often do you take a cat to the vet? Check out our Happy Tails article here for answers.
What Is a Catio?
Like a patio, it’s an outdoor get-away where your cat can rest, explore, and just generally be a cat. Because it’s enclosed, it’s safe from invaders such as other cats, dogs, coyotes, raccoons, little kids, and unwanted human visitors. The occurrence of pregnancy, catfights, getting lost or abducted, being hit by vehicles, contracting diseases, catching fleas, and eating unhealthful plants is much reduced when your cat has access to a catio.
If building one isn’t your thing, you can buy them pre-made or you can purchase designs. Like rabbit and bird habitats, catios come in all sizes and shapes. Not only can you offer cat garden selections of plants for your furbaby to enjoy, but you can decorate the catio with other plants to improve the air quality and create beauty. As we mentioned earlier, be sure the plants are pesticide-free and rooted in organic soil.
Although you’ll want to have an easy-access catbox or two and dishes for water and food, here are some catio features that your cat is sure to love:
- Places to hide
- Soft bedding
- Warm spots
- Space to play and run
- Patches of sunshine
- Structures to climb with high surfaces for observation outposts
- Places to stalk prey whether there’s prey or not
- Places to dig: Cats love loose, soft earth
- Places to view the world outside the catio
- Places to scratch: Offer horizontal (flat) and vertical (up-and-down) scratching mats and posts in prominent places because cats need to condition their claws regularly. They also regularly use the scent glands in their paws to mark turf.
- Plants! Are spider plants toxic to cats? As you know by now, spider plants are among the best plants to hang in baskets around your pets because they’re safe, beautiful, and fast-growing. Other good catio plants include Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis), Swedish ivy (Pilea nummulariifolia), cast iron plants/parlor palms (Aspidistra elatior), sunflowers (helianthus angustifolius), and marigolds (Calendula officinalis).
For inspiration on how to make the perfect catio for your kitties, look up information online and talk to other people who have them. If you’ve read our Happy Tails post on privacy and ways to block neighbors’ view of your home, then you might want to learn more about pet-friendly vines for trellises and walls.
Tips to Keep Cats Out of Your Plants
While you want your furkids to feel relaxed in their little bit of heaven, you don’t want them to destroy it while they’re having fun. Have a designated area that is there’s where they can roll, step, squash, sniff, eat, and scent; catnip, lemongrass, wheatgrass and lavender. Then you can have an area that is part of the landscape but not necessarily off limits but less tempting. Here are some suggestions to save your plants:
- Toppings: pebbles, rocks, wire mesh, twigs, thorns
- Squishy toppings: Deep, damp mulch or leaves where their paws will sink down
- Safe detergents: Citrus peels, coffee grounds, cayenne pepper, bitter apple, vinegar spray, citronella spray
- Sounds: Low-hanging windchimes, motion-activated toys that move and make noise
- Enhanced scented plants (separate tempting plants from distasteful plants): Rue, citronella
Are spider plants toxic to cats? Not a bit toxic–they’re oh-so-tempting because the bobbing baby spider plants look like fluttering green and white birds.
FAQ — Frequently Asked Questions
Can cats be trained to leave my plants alone?
Cats are very intelligent and can be trained, but when you’re not around, they’re likely to use their own minds in making decisions. It’s safer to prevent problems than to hope they’ll focus on being obedient. You probably know this already.
Do cats naturally like to dig?
Digging is a natural feline behavior. They cover their feces so prey animals won’t be alerted to their presence. Burying their wastes helps mask their scent so larger predators won’t go after them. This behavior also allows them to keep their claws in shape. In addition, cats have sweat glands on the soles of their feet and scent glands on their paws, so digging is one way to mark territory.
Do all cats love catnip?
It seems that 50-75% of all cats, including wild cats, enjoy the intoxicating effects of catnip. The response is hereditary, meaning that the love of catnip runs in families. It’s a good addition to your cat garden or catio as long as you maintain control of the plant so it isn’t totally destroyed.
Are spider plants poisonous to dogs?
They’re nontoxic to dogs. They do give off a scent that humans are unable to detect.
What indoor plants are best for dogs and other pets?
Although mammals share many sensitivities, two factors come into play. One is size: it takes less toxin to affect smaller animals. The second factor is diet: different animals can tolerate different substances. Oftentimes omnivores can tolerate a wider variety of substances because their natural diet is made up of many kinds of ingredients. Cats are mostly meat-eaters so their systems are more sensitive. If you have questions, check out the ASPCA website or contact your pet’s veterinarian.
By knowing what makes a cat a cat, you have the power to create a paradise for your feline buddy! Are spider plants toxic to cats? Now you know that spider plants and cats get along just fine. You’ve learned how to grow a cat garden and how to construct a catio. You and your cat’s bond will become even stronger when you can spend time together in your own little Eden.
By the way, there’s one thing we forgot to mention about the catio: Unsightly though it may be, your cat would really, really, really like a cardboard box or two.
Are spider plants toxic to cats?
Information about BARF foods for cats:
More info on safe plants for your catio:
Info about Juliette de Baïracli Levy