Cats and succulents: succulents toxic to cats and cat safe succulents
Learn which succulents to get and which ones to avoid if you have a cat.
IN THIS POST:
A quick overview of succulents poisonous to cats, and a list of cat safe succulents with brief info on how to grow, care for them, and where to buy them.
- Are succulents bad for cats?
- Succulents toxic to cats :
- Aloe vera
- Coral cactus (Euphorbia)
- Jade plant
- Snake plant or Mother-in-law’s tongue
- String of pearls
- Cat safe succulents:
- Holiday cacti
- Burro’s tail
- Ponytail palm
- Zebra Haworthia
- Opuntia (Cactus pear)
- Pitaya (Dragon fruit)
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Are succulents safe for cats?
Oh, those little succulents with fleshy chunky fat leaves in little cute pots… when you see them in Home Depot or online stores, it’s hard to resist not buying at least one. But, as a pet owner, you probably wonder: Are succulents safe for cats? Should I just bring them home and hope for the best?
The short answer is: your worry is warranted, because there are some popular succulents that are bad for cats when ingested.
But the good news is that the majority of succulents are not toxic to cats, and in this article we’ll equip you with a list of hardy low maintenance succulents that can be freely kept at home and will coexist in peace with your cats.
Succulents toxic to cats
1. ALOE VERA
This one is a bummer! Known for centuries for its healing properties, widely used in natural products, believe it or not, aloe vera is a bad plant to be chewed by your cat.
Why, you wonder?
A chemical aloin in aloe vera when ingested acts as a laxative and can cause diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, tremors in pets. Its toxicity for pets is moderate to strong. When your cat eats a piece of aloe vera, you should notify your veterinarian.
Additionally, according to the latest toxicology report, aloe vera may have tumor-promoting activities.
Also, if your cats are allergic to latex, aloe vera can cause skin irritation.
So, keep aloe vera away from your kitty, and go easy on this plant for your own use too.
2. CORAL CACTUS
Similar in appearance to ocean coral, Coral cactus (Euphorbia lactea) is actually 2 succulent plants joined together to create an unusual look. And though it looks cool and makes a great “conversation piece”, if you have cats, Euphorbia lactea is another succulent to avoid. When ingested by a cat it can cause mouth irritation and vomiting.
3. JADE PLANT
Though the Jade plant is considered to be a great indoor plant for attracting money luck to your house, it’s not so lucky for your cat to chew on it. Jade is mildly toxic and can cause vomiting in a cat.
Kalanchoes are beautiful soft succulents that, unfortunately, are not safe for cats. They can cause gastric upset and, rarely, abnormal heart rhythm.
5. SNAKE PLANT
Snake Plant or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue that has succulent leaves is also known for its mild toxicity to cats when chewed on, so avoid this plant around cats.
6. STRING OF PEARLS
Simply put – cats and the string of pearls plants don’t go well together. All parts of this plant are toxic to cats and can cause liver failure when ingested. So, just dont bring a string of pearls succulent home if you have a cat.
Cat safe succulents
Now, let’s take a look at 8 succulents that are safe for cats.
There are 3 types of “holiday” cacti: Easter cactus (Schlumbergera gaertneri), Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata), and Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera buckleyi).
Each holiday cactus typically blooms with beautiful red, pink, or yellow flowers closest to the holiday that it’s named after. As holiday time flowering houseplants, they make a great addition to nearly any indoor setting.
All of them are succulents safe for cats so you can freely grow them indoors and place them around the house thanks to their non-toxicity.
I should note a peculiarity about these plants though: unlike most succulents, Holiday cacti can’t handle full sun well. Also, they need to be watered more frequently compared to usual succulents. Otherwise, they are very easy to care for and can live over 50 years!
Holiday cacti propagate easily too, making them an exceptional candidate for holiday gift-giving.
Do you know?
All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.
* cacti – common plural for cactus (though both “cactuses” and “cacti” are acceptable).
also known as Donkey’s Tail, Lamb’s tail, or Cluster Sedum
Donkey’s Tail is another safe for cats succulent.
It’s native to Mexico and grows best in hanging baskets or in a vessel from where its stems, covered with rounded and fleshy silver-green leaves can hang down freely.
Burro’s tail plant can grow as long as 4-6 feet, but it can take years to reach full maturity
Overall, this perennial succulent is easy to care for, it can tolerate any type of soil with good drainage. This plant will be happy if you give it bright morning sunlight. It requires more watering compared to the majority of succulents to keep its leaves nice and plump. However, be sure to let the soil completely dry between waterings.
also known as Bottle palm tree or the Elephant foot tree.
Ponytail Palm is a pet-safe, easy to grow succulent from the Agave family, known for its unusual look, low maintenance and longevity.
Ponytail palm has a bulbous trunk which is used to store water, and hair like leaves that create its famous ponytail look.
This “not actually a palm” plant is quite forgiving: it can grow in any light condition and, as a majority of succulents, does not require much watering. You can even keep it outside during summer and bring inside your home during cold months.
While most Haworthia species are safe for cats, the Zebra Haworthia is the most popular among them. Thanks to its attractive appearance – thin, dark green leaves with horizontal white ridges that resemble zebra striping – Zebra Haworthia is often chosen by succulent lovers for an indoor plant.
Zebra Haworthia doesn’t require much maintenance: it needs little water, just like most succulents do, so be sure the soil is completely dry before the next watering. (yellow leaves are a sign of overwatering.) It also thrives in gritty soil with good drainage and in sunny locations.
This plant offsets freely, and can be easily propagated from offsets to make a delightful succulent jungle for your cat. 🐈
Echeverias are so pretty and there are so many varieties to choose from! Their attractive rosettes, that can be short-stemmed or hanging from stem, vary in shapes, shades, colors, sizes. The leaves in rosettes can be smooth or furry, thin or thick. You can find a special echeveria plant to your liking for sure, or better yet, get a set of echeveria plants with different looks.
And the good news is that echeverias are totally safe and not poisonous to cats and dogs.
Echeverias will do well in bright light and in well-drained soil. They’ll take neglect and drought but won’t tolerate wet and cold conditions. Always water the soil directly, and be sure that the water does not sit on the rosette because this can lead to rot and fungal disease.
often called Hens and Chicks.
These nice looking succulents with pretty green and red rosettes are commonly grown in indoor or outdoor containers, but they can also be grown as a groundcover in USDA zones 4-8.
People commonly call Sempervivum plants “Hen and Chicks”, because once you plant a mother “hen” plant the babies “chicks” will start to develop. The hen plant will be attached to the chicks (babies) by an underground runner. The mother plant can grow as large as a saucer, and the babies will vary in size, some can be as little as a dime. One Sempervivum plant can spread to 2 feet, creating a low growing mat of rosettes.
Don’t hesitate to get Sempervivum. Your cats will be amused by it, and no harm if they decide to taste it.😊
As most succulents, Sempervivum will thrive in full sun and a well-drained gritty soil.
Rosette forming succulents – like Echeveria and Sempervivum are great candidates for a living wall (indoors or outdoors).
How do you make a living wall?
Watch the YouTube video made by Urban Jungle Plants and get inspired to create your own succulent living wall art.
These plants are also known as the Cactus pear, the Paddle cactus, Nopal, Sabra, Barbary fig, and Indian fig.
I bet you saw opuntia paddle like leaves (which are actually stems), also known as nopales, sold in supermarkets. And what does it tell you? You are right! Prickly pear’s leaves are edible and can be cooked as a vegetable, So, no harm if ingested by humans, or cats.
The fruits, also known as tunas, are edible too. They can be different colors and sizes and the sweetness depends on ripeness.
This type of cactus grows in dry regions of the Americas, the Mediterranean, Australia, and Africa. Opuntia cactus thrives in full sun and prefers alkaline to neutral gritty soils that drain well. Soggy soil will rot the plant.
You can grow opuntia outdoors or as a house plant. When you grow it indoors, its better to move the pot to a sunny deck or patio during summertime.
And when you are getting a plant – better go for spineless variety, it will be much safer for you and your cats.
8. Dragon Fruit
also known as pitaya or pitahaya.
You can own a dragon fruit tree without much worrying about your pets eating it.
Dragon fruit, which is actually a cousin of Cactus pear, is a fun succulent to grow outdoors for tasty fruit if you live in USDA 9-11 hardiness zones.
But if you live in colder climates, don’t despair. You can place pitaya indoors in a container near a sunny window. This plant takes pruning well, so it can be kept in a nice compact size.
Final thoughts on toxic to cats and safe for cats succulents
Cats and succulents: good mix or not?
Sure it is, if you get the right plants.
Now you know which common succulents are poisonous for cats and which ones are safe for cats, so you can choose cat friendly succulents for your own peace of mind and for the safety of your feline friend.
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