Succulents are really popular right now and with good reason since they’re aesthetically pleasing and easy to care for.
But it’s really worth knowing which are the non-toxic succulents for cats whether you’re a pet owner who likes to have greenery around the house or you’re a housesitter who wants to leave your host a gift.
SEE ALSO: Why Do People Hire A House Sitter?
In this post, I’ll give you some examples of cat safe succulents along with some other cat-safe plants.
Just as an aside, not all plants and succulents safe for cats are automatically safe for dogs and vice-versa. So if you need something that’s safe to have around both cats and dogs, double-check the dog situation.
However, it’s important to know that if your moggie eats part of any plant, whether it’s classed as poisonous or not, they could still suffer things like vomiting or diarrhea.
If you have a particularly curious cat you might want to keep your houseplants out of reach.
Being Knowledgeable as a Housesitter
When I first started housesitting I had no idea that certain plants were harmful to pets. I had pussycats for 14 years but none of mine ever showed any interest in my houseplants. So I guess that’s why it didn’t cross my mind.
But all creatures are different and I’ve learnt through my sits that others will gladly dig or chew at plants or casually knock the entire thing off the table!
Fortunately, a couple of housesits into my housesitting journey, I had two completely independent conversations with colleagues who’d lost pets to plant poisoning and it totally opened my eyes.
Luckily I hadn’t brought any plants or flowers into any of my catsits. But I so easily could have, especially for the longer sits when it’s nice to have fresh flowers around.
I’d have been distraught if I’d unknowingly brought something in that went on to harm the cat I was caring for. So hopefully this will help you if you too were unsure of the pet and plant situation.
Succulents Safe for Cats
Succulents are a good choice either to keep as an owner or to give as a gift because they can be really low-maintenance plants. This list of succulents is all non-toxic to cats according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
That’s actually a really helpful resource if you’re buying a new plant and what to check whether it’s safe or toxic to cats.
Everything here is listed here by common names and the species name is written below.
Also, the pictures here are in keeping with the theme of the post but please don’t use them to identify safe plants. Go by the species name and always do your own research on what’s safe for cats too.
Hens and Chicks (sempervivum sp.)
Hens and Chicks are popular succulents and apparently, there are over 40 different species of the sempervivum genus. You can find them in lots of different colors which you can tell from some of the names.
Some of these species of Hens and Chicks are:
- emerald express
- purple haze
- old copper
- spring rose
- roasted chestnut
- lime frost
- terracotta baby
- standard green
- silver jubilee
While they are different, the sempervivum succulent is quite similar to the echeveria succulent species below.
Apparently, they have different shaped leaves and the way the rosettes are arranged are different. I find it hard to tell them apart though. I keep thinking can see a difference in the tips of their leaves but then I see the name and that i haven’t got it right at all!
Don’t worry too much though. Both are classed as succulents safe for cats so just choose the one you think’s the prettiest.
Variegated Wax plant (echeveria sp.)
The echeverias are also common succulents you’ll recognise. This time there are over 30 species that are a great choice for a cat owner.
As with the sempervivum, there are many echeveria species, over 150 I’m told. Some of the echeverias with colourful names are:
- Echeveria Silver spoons
- Echeveria Silver Queen
- Echeveria Blue Frills
- Echeveria Black Rose
- Echeveria Blue Atoli
- Echeveria Blue Prince
Chinese Money plant (Pilea peperomioides)
Look this plant up before you buy it. This is one of the succulents safe for cats and it’s sometimes known as a pancake or UFO plant.
But it’s not what I’ve always known as a money plant which is the toxic Jade Plant below.
Bunny Ear Cactus (opuntia microdasys)
Ha I like these cacti just because they’re in keeping with the pets theme! They’re pet friendly although I do worry a bit about the thorns so i don’t like to have cacti around my two.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)
The Christmas Cactus is low maintenance and flowers around the end of the year/holiday time. Which is why they’re also known as the Thanksgiving Cactus or Holiday Cactus.
Little Zebra Plant (Haworthia subfasciata)
This Zebra cactus is a little succulent of the haworthia species. These succulent plants are slow growers, also known as Zebra Haworthia. They look a bit like Aloe vera so make sure you don’t confuse the two.
Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)
Burro’s tail is another of the non toxic succulents and it’s sometimes known as donkey’s tail as well. It flowers and has trailing stems that look a bit like bunches of green grapes.
Living Stones (Lithops naureeniae)
Living Stones are safe to have around kitties. They have quite a unique appearance and I always think they look like living creatures rather than succulents!
Other Non-Toxic Plants for Cats
The good news is there are lots of other types of plants you can have around your furry friends.
The other good news is that I’m not going to try and give you any plant care advice like which of these plants need bright sunlight, indirect sunlight, partial shade, high humidity, little water or any of that stuff.
I’m in no way any type of indoor plant expert when it comes to caring for them. Everything’s so subjective. I mean what does “water regularly” mean anyway?
So look these up for yourself and see if you can find what you’re looking for. Oh, and these are obviously just some of the popular houseplants I know, it’s not a list of all the non-toxic plants ever.
- Honeysuckle Fuchsia Fuchsia triphylla.
- Ponytail Palm Beaucarnea recurvata
- American Rubber Plant Peperomia obtusifolia
- Sword Fern / Boston Fern Nephrolepis exaltata
- Gerberas Gerbera jamesonii
- Phalaenopsis Orchid / Moth Orchid Phalaenopsis sp.
- African Violet Saintpaulia spp.
- Bamboo Palm / Parlour Palm Chamaedorea elegans
- Money Tree / Pachira aquatica (confusingly, different from both the money plant above and below)
- Spider Plants Chlorophytum comosum
The ASPCA say these are safe for cats although I have also seen them mention spider plants can be mildly toxic. They say it won’t kill your pet because the toxicity level is low but it could cause an upset tummy and vomiting and diarrhoea.
These are common plants to have in hanging baskets so if you’re worried that could be a solution.
Toxic Plants for Cats You Need to Avoid
Lilies (Lilium species)
Lilies are a biggy that we need to steer clear of with cats. This is how my two colleagues’ cats died so it does unhappen.
Some of the potted lilies are less toxic but all of the cut flowers are really harmful to their kidneys.
Aloe (Aloe vera)
Although the human health benefits of aloe plants have been touted for ages they’re not at all healthy for your kitties.
They’re one of the succulents poisonous to cats so don’t let your feline pets near yours if you have one.
Devil’s Backbone (Kalanchoe tubiflora)
Another of the succulents poisonous to cats is the devil’s backbone. It’s an interesting-looking plant that some people also call the chandelier plant or mother of millions.
String of Pearls (senecio rowleyanus)
This is one of the poisonous succulents for cats is String of Pearls also known as String of Beads.
I think my current cats would be tempted to play with these if they got wind of them. The ASPCA says if you want to keep this type of plant then a good thing to put it in would be a hanging basket to keep it out the way.
I think I’d still be worried about any bits dropping off that my cat might play with but decide for yourself.
Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)
Ah the millennial’s favourite. And one of mine too.
Unfortunately, they’re toxic to cats so you need to keep them away from your furbaby if they’re prone to sampling the plants.
Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)
Jade plants with their fleshy leaves are the ones I’ve always known as a money tree or money plant rather than the Chinese Money Plant above.
This poisonous plant (for cats) also goes by the name of lucky plant.
There are three money plants / trees in this post so make sure you’re clear on the differences and choose a pet friendly one.
Pencil Cactus (euphorbia tirucalli)
This cactus plant looks really unusual but unfortunately, it’s not cat-safe because of the white sap inside it. It’s another of the cacti the ASPCA recommends keeping out of pets’ reach.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue I used to have this in the bathroom because it managed to live even with low light.
My brood never went anywhere near the shelf it was on so by the ASPCA’s advice again that actually seems ok.
Symptoms of Plant Poisoning in Cats
As a housesitter (or pet owner) it’s important that we can help the cats we’re looking after if they become distressed in any way.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are some of the symptoms a cat might show if they’ve ingested any of the succulents poisonous to cats.
- mouth irritation
- skin irritation
- irregular heartbeat
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
If you think a pet has eaten something it shouldn’t you can get advice from the following places (write the number down somewhere you can find it):
UK Animal PoisonLine: 01202 509000 call costs £35 – 45 and they save 7 out of 10 callers having to go to the vet. The charge is refundable if you do go to the vet and they call the phoneline for detailed advice for your pet.
US ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435 a fee may be charged to this as well
US Pet Poison Helpline: 1 (855) 764-7661 $75 fee applies
Buying Your Next Beautiful Plant
As you can see there are lots of different varieties of houseplants and succulents safe for cats. The best way to check if a succulent plant is non-toxic for the furbabies in your life is to check out the ASPCA’s list.
It shows information for both cats and dogs, actually not just cats and dogs but horses as well!
You can print the whole list out for reference (although be warned, it’s long!) You don’t really need to do that but it’s a good idea to keep the relevant page handy as the search bar is really good. Happy safe succulents shopping!