Can [my cat] eat this [plant]?
April 22, 2019 12:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm finally in a place with more sunlight, including a deck. Yay! My cat will eat any plant, indoors and out. I've googled the hell outta this, and still I need help.

I'll put some of my favorites in hanging baskets and window boxes, but please tell me what will look nice in planters on the deck and window sills! I like things that flower, but varieties of green --or other foliage -- are nice too (of course we always have cat grass and cat mint).

I have several large containers (easily 14"x14") so I'd like some variety even within each container. I'm in Zone 7 (NYC).

Cat tax here. And please, please don't tell me that cats will naturally avoid plants that aren't good for them. My girl will eat anything and everything that grows.

Thanks a million!
posted by whoiam to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Nice whiskers.

So, since this is in NYC I assume there is no way for your cat to venture away from your area of control, where she might engage in non-approved plant-nomming?
posted by slkinsey at 12:40 PM on April 22, 2019

I'd grow grass and catnip for kitty because it will make her happy. Grass does well in a window box, needs only a few inches of dirt to do fine. You have to grow catnip from seed; cats will go nuts and kill it if you bring in a plant. Neighborhood cats discovered and killed my catnip grown from seed when they discovered it, but it lasted longer than any plant I brought home.
You can get spray that tastes foul but is not harmful.
You could try a chicken wire and deer netting wrapping over a tomato cage on some nice ornamental or tomatoes.
Sage and rosemary do well in containers and don't taste good to critters, so maybe if she has nicer alternatives, she'd let them live?
She might be bored. A bird feeder well out of her range, some dangling toys to bat, might help.
posted by theora55 at 1:06 PM on April 22, 2019

Verify this, but: two plants that I remember being safe for cats are snapdragons and roses.

You'll want to avoid things like pesticides and especially fungicides, so you have to choose roses that won't need them. In more humid places, like the southeast, it's pretty much impossible to grow hybrid tea roses (the most common kind of cut roses, I think) without using a lot of chemicals, so find an expert and look into heirloom or more natural/old fashioned types.
posted by amtho at 1:45 PM on April 22, 2019

I won't make a habit of threadsitting, but:

I assume there is no way for your cat to venture away from your area of control

She will be inside or supervised on the deck; there is no place for her to venture.

That said, we also have plenty of back yard space for anything that might need a tomato cage, etc. (we've done veggie gardens for years). She'd have to get through 3 doors to get to that area.

There are birds and squirrels aplenty on the trees and wires. She's not bored; she's just always loved nibbling on plants. :)
posted by whoiam at 1:52 PM on April 22, 2019

Searching for pet safe plants got some good links, notably the well-known ASPCA database.
posted by amtho at 2:03 PM on April 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

Others can probably give better feedback about the individual plants to include, but as another owner of a Cat Who Will Eat Anything Green™, I just wanted to chime in and suggest that you think carefully about the containers. Because my cat seems to enjoy the act of pulling the entire plants out of the dirt, he has flipped over much larger terra cotta pots than I would have expected him to be able to move. He's a bit of a klutz, so he isn't able to jump into hanging baskets, but I know some more athletic cats can do so. For those reasons, I would suggest making sure that you attach the pots very carefully to the wall/floor/ceiling so as to not have the experiences I had of very upside down and dead plants pinned under their pots. (I no longer have plants inside at home for this reason.)

That said, what a joy it will be to share the outside with your beautiful kitty!
posted by past unusual at 2:03 PM on April 22, 2019

I am both a Plant Lady and a Cat Lady, and one of my guys will chomp on anything green. I use this list from the ASPCA to choose safe houseplants, but it's useful for outdoor gardening, too.

Seconding the catnip and grass for your kitty. Mine love to eat wheatgrass. Warning, though, sometimes they hork it up because cats. My three also go CRAZY for silvervine, which is a plant native to Asia with similar effects to catnip. Some cats who aren't into nip really like silvervine. Valerian is another that has a psychogenic effect on cats, and as a bonus, it can be made into a tea that works well for human relaxation.

Upon edit, I see I was beaten to the ASPCA list suggestion.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2019

My cat really likes wheatgrass, and you can also throw some in your own smoothies, so that's nice.

#1 thing to avoid is lilies and anything in the lily family, which is extremely toxic to cats.
posted by waffleriot at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Petunias are flowering, cat safe, and prolific. The tidal wave varietal is especially quick growing and pretty! I get mine at Home Depot, around $10 a pot for something that will grow 10x its size in a season. (You can always prune if that's too expensive for your space)
posted by ananci at 4:26 PM on April 22, 2019

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