Indoor house plants add much needed greenery to a home. Not only do plants look pretty, but they also have benefits for our health and well being. Unfortunately, most plants at the garden store are dangerous for cats. Cats are curious creatures, so the last thing you want is for them to get sick from their encounter with a plant. In this article, we list some of the best cat friendly (non toxic) indoor house plants—along with plant photos and care instructions.
When we finished our very long and very DIY renovation, we were really excited to decorate our place with plants! But, it took a lot of research to find plants we loved the look of AND that were also safe for our cats at home. Here are our top 5 cat friendly houseplants for fellow pet owners and plant lovers.
Benefits of indoor plants
If you want to be convinced on why you should add indoor plants to your home, here are some of the benefits:
- House plants elevate the look of a space: Greenery makes a home feel cozy and lived in. Plants add natural texture, freshness, and visual interest. Use them in your living room, bedroom, or even your bathroom to liven up a space.
- Indoor plants can be affordable and easy to implement: Furniture and decor is expensive. Want to know what's not? Most small potted plants! You can save money by finding plants on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or the clearance section of your local gardening store. If you're a tenant, plants are an easy way to decorate your rental, because you can take them with you when you move!
- Plants can reduce stress: Interacting with plants (such as planting, watering, smelling) has been shown to reduce physiological and psychological stress.
- Greenery can increase productivity: A UK study found that adding plants to office spaces helped improve worker productivity by as much as 15%. If you're not in the office these days, considering adding plants to your work-from-home set up,
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Cast Iron plants are about 2 feet tall, with long arching dark green leaves. If you're looking for something that's low maintenance and hard to kill, this is the plant for you!
Light needs: The main light requirement for Cast Iron plants is no direct light, which can burn its leaves. This plant can survive low light conditions, so it's a great option if you have a darker or north facing room.
Watering needs: Cast Iron plants are not super finicky about watering. They're fairly drought tolerant, so water when the top few inches of soil are dry. Your plant's leaves will get dry and brown on the edges if it's not getting enough water—but generally, the bigger risk is overwatering.
Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia argyreia)
A small bushy plant that usually grows to be 6 to 12-inches tall. It has teardrop shaped leaves with alternating green and silver stripes. The Watermelon Peperomia is considered fairly low maintenance.
Light needs: Put this plant in a spot that gets medium to bright indirect light. Too much direct light can cause its leaves and markings to fade.
Watering needs: Water the plant when the top half of the soil is dry. You can mist this plant occasionally.
Pin Stripe Calathea (Calathea ornata)
This plant has large dark green leaves and striking pink or white stripes. Pin Stripe Calathea are slightly fussy, but don't let that deter you.
Light needs: This plant does well in bright indirect light. Too much direct light can fade or burn its leaves.
Watering needs: Pin Stripe Calathea love humidity and moisture. Keep the soil moist, so it doesn't dry out. But, it's also important to let excess water drain out from the bottom of the planter so it isn't sitting in standing water.
Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)
This small succulent-like plant has thick glossy green leaves. The rubber plant stores water in the leaves, which plump up when water is available and shrivel in drought.
Light needs: Green leaf baby rubber plants like bright indirect light. Too much direct light could burn its leaves.
Watering needs: Let the top 1 to 2-inches of soil dry out, then water. Rubber plants like humidity, so mist this plant if you can.
Rose Painted (Rosy) Calathea (Calathea roseopicta)
This stunning plant features big rounded leaves that are pink in the middle and green at the edges. Rose Painted Calathea can be finicky to care for—but if you can make it work, they sure are pretty!
Light needs: This plant does best with bright indirect light. Too much direct light can fade or burn its leaves.
Watering needs: Moderate to high water needs. When the top inch of soil feels dry, give it a good watering. And, make sure that extra water can drain out of the bottom of the pot! Rose Painted Calathea loves humidity, so mist often with lukewarm water.
Other resources and considerations
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre has detailed lists of plants that are toxic and non toxic for cats. We found this resource very helpful, since they are obviously very credible in this space! (Note: The plants shown above are included on the ASPCA's "non toxic for cats" list).
The downside of this resource is that it doesn't have photos—so we found ourselves cross-checking the ASPCA name list with Google image searches. It was cumbersome and time consuming to do this on a cell phone at the store! So, if you're going to dive into the ASPCA list, then we recommend doing that at home. Then go to the plant store with a bigger shortlist than you plan to buy, because the store might not have the exact plants you are looking for.
If you're buying plants from places like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, make sure you can accurately identify the plant yourself because it could be mislabelled. You want to make sure you're actually buying the non toxic plant you're looking for!