Which houseplants are the least tasty to cats?
August 17, 2013 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend cat-proof plants.

My purple heart got little gnaw marks until I took it outside and my Christmas cactus cuttings got very thoroughly chewed. They took a few nibbles of my devil's ivy cuttings but that seems to be a winner so far. Which houseplants best tolerate cats (I think I can only handle the easy-to-grow kind! Orchids etc. are too much for me.) My cats are indoor so they don't get foliage as part of their diet except the plants of mine that they eat.

Thank you for your help!!
posted by mermily to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't think cats like citrus-scented things much. Certainly no cat has ever taken any interest in my lemon geranium.
posted by zadcat at 11:42 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Anything you can grow hanging from the ceiling in a basket away from tall furniture. :)
posted by ecsh at 11:49 AM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Devil's ivy is actually toxic to cats. I'd recommend taking a look at the ASPCA's list of toxic and non-toxic plants and shopping off the non-toxic list. You don't want your cats eating your plants, but you especially don't want them eating your poisonous plants! Good luck.
posted by brina at 12:05 PM on August 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Anything you can grow hanging from the ceiling in a basket away from tall furniture. :)

Yeah, this is what worked with the plant-eating cat I had. Also, keeping plants and any flowers that came my way in the closed bathroom helped.

Keeping stuff like this that she COULD eat, on the floor also distracted her.

My current cat's likely father, Chuck the Feral Tom, got on my mother's back porch once and ate most of her potted chives. She was furious. I like to imagine his furry little girlfriends weren't exactly enchanted, either.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:23 PM on August 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Giving them cat grass can really help with this. If you're near a store with bulk grains (e.g. Whole Foods), you can buy a handful of wheat berries and grow them very inexpensively. Just remove them when they start getting too big/tough/dried.
posted by amtho at 12:53 PM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I second the cat grass! It's kind of expensive in pet stores, but you can get it in bulk or online for cheap. I keep the pots outside and bring it in periodically because they'd knock it over and scatter dirt everywhere if I let them, but I'm sure there's a way around that. It's easy and fast to grow, the cats get really excited about it, and it seems to help with their digestion.
posted by perryfugue at 1:50 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My cats have attempted to eat or shred every plant I've ever had in the house, except daffodils. They seem to have no interest at all in getting anywhere near daffodils, probably for the same reason that the deer and squirrels don't eat them outside.
posted by Corvid at 2:22 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm pretty much down to cacti (the spikier the better) and spiky succulents like euphorbia pentagona. I used to spray a hot pepper mixture on the more delectable plants but one of my cats developed an affinity for spicy stuff so that ploy is out.
posted by beagle at 3:22 PM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I am struggling with this same issue right now! Unfortunately, most of the hardier plants are listed on the internets as quite toxic to kitties (esp. low light plants such as pothos, lilies, ivies etc), which makes my combination of Low Light + Black Thumb + Hungry Cat kind of difficult. I've finally resigned myself to do waxy, stiff-leafed plants in areas accessible to the cat, such as mother-in-law's-tongue (also called Snake Plant). Even though they're not my favorite look, she's less likely to be interested or able to eat those. Leafier, softer, easier to eat plants are going to have to live on high shelves or hanging baskets.

For what it's worth, I've always avoided buying wheatgrass or catnip or plants designed for cats to eat. I just worry that they won't be able to distinguish between a plant that's good for them and a plant that's bad for them, so I try to discourage the eating plants habit completely.

Good luck, and I'll be following this question with rapt interest, myself!
posted by carlypennylane at 5:12 PM on August 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your very nice replies everyone. I appreciate that you took the time to respond. I will take the advice to heart, especially the cat grass suggestion!
posted by mermily at 6:18 PM on August 17, 2013

When I first got a cat, I had a lot of houseplants: cacti, orchids, ferns, trailing plants, little palms, etc. Now I don't have any.

The thing about cats is they are all different, and what one cat won't touch, another will feast on. I once had a cactus garden with 7 different little cacti, all as spiny as could be, and it was systematically devoured by one of my cats. As for poisonous plants, to some cats it just doesn't matter, they will chow down, with no regard for vet bills, potential kidney damage, or the possibility of death (my cat Gina dodged a bullet when she escaped from the house and nibbled on a lily outside; she almost died but she's a tough little scrapper). Regarding taste, whether spicy, minty, citrusy, etc., one cat might hate it, another loves it, and the only way to know which your cats don't like is trial and error.

Even if they don't like the taste, they might follow my cat Lando's lead and yank the plant (it was a little potted palm, about two feet high, initially three in a group but the other two had been scratched to death by another cat, Lily) out of the pot and drag it around the house, strewing potting soil on every piece of furniture, carpet, and rug in the house before depositing it triumphantly at your feet with a proud little meow. Your best bet is to make sure your cats can't reach any plants by hanging them from the ceiling where they are a pain to water, or just surrender like I have.

I really miss having houseplants but they don't snuggle and purr.
posted by jenjenc at 6:39 PM on August 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: hehehe. Thank you, I enjoyed that response a lot. sorry about your palm.
posted by mermily at 6:32 PM on August 19, 2013

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