20 Houseplants That Are Toxic to Cats

Brown striped cat sitting in front of a houseplant and cushion

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

Houseplants are common in nearly every home, but some plants, like lilies, while beautiful, are among the most toxic to cats. These colorful flowers or vibrant foliage may brighten your living space, help purify indoor air, and have been shown to help reduce anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, if you have cats, there are houseplants you should not bring into your home due to their toxic properties—especially since cats are notoriously mischievous and prone to chewing on things.

Toxin vs. Poison

When referring to plants, "toxicity" is used instead of "poison." A toxin is a naturally occurring poisonous substance, but it may not necessarily injure or kill an organism because it varies on a scale of mild to severe. Meanwhile, a poison will likely cause harm to an organism.

Some plants that are toxic to cats are also harmful to humans if ingested, such as sago palm, aloe vera, peace lily, and dieffenbachia, to name a few. These plants are also not safe around babies, especially infants and toddlers that like to put everything within hand's reach in their mouths. Many of the same plants that are toxic to cats are also not safe around dogs.

Here are some popular houseplants that you should avoid if you have cats.

  • 01 of 20

    Lilies (Lilium or Hemerocallis spp.)

    stargazer lily

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    Lilies, which are in the "true lily" or Lilium family, and "daylilies," which are in the Hemerocallis family, are dangerous for cats. The entire plant—stems, leaves, flowers, pollen, and the water in the vase—is toxic to cats and known to cause kidney failure within three days. It's best to avoid plants with the word "lily" in their name; most are a deadly combination in a home with cats.

    • Toxic Properties: Unknown what the toxin is in the plant
    • Safe Alternative: Orchids
  • 02 of 20

    Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

    closeup of a peace lily

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 

    Despite their name, peace lilies are not true lilies, but they are one of the most common flowering houseplants. Their dark leaves, white flowers, and low maintenance requirements make them popular. Peace lilies contain calcium oxalates which are toxic to cats. They are only dangerous when ingested and are safe to touch.

    • Toxic Properties: Insoluble calcium oxalates
    • Safe Alternative: Cast iron plants
  • 03 of 20

    Aloe Vera

    aloe vera plant

    The Spruce / Michael Marquand

    Aloe vera plants are a staple in many homes thanks to how easy they are to care for. Aloe vera is characterized by thick, succulent-like leaves with jagged edges that grow upwards from a rosette-like base. It is toxic to cats if ingested.

    • Toxic Properties: Saponins, anthraquinone
    • Safe Alternative: Haworthia
  • 04 of 20

    Cutleaf Philodendron (Monstera Deliciosa)

    A Monstera Deliciosa sits in a white pot in front of a white wall.

     Mykeyruna / Getty Images

    Monstera deliciosa is one of the most trendy tropical houseplants featured extensively on social media and in home decor thanks to its stunning tropical foliage. Also referred to as "Swiss cheese plants" or "split-leaf philodendrons," monsteras are relatively low maintenance, making them an attractive addition to any home. Unfortunately, Monstera deliciosa contains insoluble calcium oxalates making them highly toxic to cats.

    • Toxic Properties: Insoluble calcium oxalates
    • Safe Alternative: Prayer plant
    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

    hanging pothos plant

    The Spruce / Candace Madonna

    Due to its low maintenance nature, pothos is an attractive houseplant for amateur and experienced plant owners. The beautiful drape and ease of care make it a lovely addition to your home, particularly when trying to spruce up your home decor on a budget. Though pothos is entirely safe to touch, it is toxic to cats.

    • Toxic Properties: Insoluble calcium oxalates
    • Safe Alternative: Spider plant
  • 06 of 20

    Jade Plants (Crassula)

    closeup of a jade plant

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Jade plants, also known as "money plants" or "dollar plants," are a succulent that is easy to grow and thought to bring good luck and fortune to their owners. They are characterized by dark green fleshy leaves and thick, wood-like stems. There are several different varieties of jade plants, all belonging to the family Crassula. Unfortunately, jade plants are highly toxic to cats, dogs, and horses.

    • Toxic Properties: Unknown cause of toxicity but all parts of the plant can cause reactions in cats
    • Safe Alternative: Peperomia
  • 07 of 20

    Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

    closeup of a snake plant

    The Spruce / Alonda Baird

    Snake plant is well-known as one of the best plants for low light conditions and improving air quality—making it an extremely common houseplant. While snake plants are non-toxic for humans, the ASPCA reports they are toxic for cats and dogs if ingested.

  • 08 of 20

    Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

    A sago palm sits on a wooden shelf in front of a framed photo.

     belchonok / Getty Images

    Sago palms add a touch of the tropics to your home and can do wonders for indoor air quality. Their unique structure makes them a great talking point and a lovely accent piece. However, these plants have an ancient defense mechanism: they are highly toxic to our furry friends. If you have cats at home, you should avoid them at all costs.

    • Toxic Properties: Cycasin
    • Safe Alternative: Areca palm
    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 09 of 20

    English Ivy (Hedera helix)

    A pot of English Ivy sits on a wooden console table.

    Image Source / Getty Images

    English ivy has small, pointed leaves and makes for a delicate display. Thanks to its gorgeous drapery, it is popular as a houseplant grown in hanging planters. This same feature can make it appear like an attractive snack to curious felines, which can be extremely dangerous when ingested.

    • Toxic Properties: Triterpenoid saponins
    • Safe Alternative: Swedish ivy
  • 10 of 20

    Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia amoena)

    dumb cane plant

    The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 

    Dumb cane, or Dieffenbachia, is a popular houseplant thanks to its stunning tropical foliage and low-maintenance needs. When grown in the right conditions, these plants vary from three feet high to over ten feet tall. Unfortunately, dumb canes are highly toxic to cats when ingested.

    • Toxic Properties: Insoluble calcium oxalates, proteolytic enzyme
    • Safe Alternative: Staghorn fern
  • 11 of 20

    Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

    a kalanchoe plant indoors

    The Spruce / Alonda Baird

    Kalanchoe can cause intestinal issues in cats and affect their heart rate. This native plant to southern Africa, Madagascar, and Australia is also called mother-of-millions and is a succulent closely related to jade plants (also toxic to cats). The toxic active ingredient is bufadienolides, which are similar to digitalis compounds. They can cause disorganized cardiac electrical activity, which may cause an elevated heart rate that can lead to cardiac arrest. 

    • Toxic Properties: Bufodienolides
    • Safe Alternative: Sedum
  • 12 of 20

    Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

    Lily of the valley petite white flowers on single stems surrounded my medium green leaves

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Lily of the valley is not a true lily plant but is still toxic. They contain cardenolides, which are cardiotoxic. All plant parts are toxic and can lead to vomiting, irregular heartbeats, weak pulse, and more. This abnormal heart rhythm can be life-threatening.

    • Toxic Properties: Cardenolides
    • Safe Alternative: Spiderwort
    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • 13 of 20

    Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)

    closeup of pink hyacinth

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida 

    Hyacinth flowers are bulbs in the asparagus family, and they are toxic. Close relatives include water hyacinths and tulips. These beautiful plants contain alkaloids that can be dangerous if ingested by cats. The bulbs and plants may cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, depression, and tremors.

    • Toxic Properties: Possibly narcissus-like alkaloids like lycorine and calcium oxalate raphides
    • Safe Alternative: Common lilac
  • 14 of 20

    Oleander (Nerium oleander)

    Pink oleander flowers and buds closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Commonly called Jericho rose or rose laurel, Nerium oleander is native to southern Asia and the Mediterranean. All parts of this beautiful plant are toxic to cats. Oleander has cardiac glycosides that can cause gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia, or death.

  • 15 of 20

    Yew

    Japanese yew tree branches with short evergreen needles and red bell-shaped berries

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Yew bark, needles, and fruit are toxic to humans, dogs, and cats. Taxus spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine. It can cause trembling, coordination problems, difficulty breathing, severe gastrointestinal problems, cardiac failure, or death. A small bite of this plant can spell disaster for a cat. Horses have collapsed 15 minutes after ingestion.

  • 16 of 20

    Tulip (Tulipa spp.)

    Yellow and pink cut tulips placed in glass vase next to coffee mug

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

    Tulips are in the lily family and are toxic to cats. The entire plant is toxic with alkaloid and glycoside compounds; however, the bulb has the highest concentration of toxins. Reactions include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, and drooling. Severe toxicity can lead to convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

    • Toxic properties: Tulipalin A and B
    • Safe Alternative: Roses
    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20

    Daffodils (Narcissus spp.)

    Tazetta daffodil with white flowers and yellow cluster

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Daffodils are popular harbingers of spring, but the flowers, leaves, and bulbs are toxic to cats. Daffodils contain toxic compounds that are fatal if ingested in large quantities. The bulbs are the most toxic part. In small amounts, daffodils can cause gastrointestinal upset, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. 

    • Toxic properties: Lycorine, other phenanthridine alkaloids, and calcium oxalate crystals
    • Safe Alternative: Nasturtium
  • 18 of 20

    Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Regniae and Caesalpinia gilliesii)

    Bird of Paradise

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    There are two distinctly different bird of paradise plants, Strelitzia Regniae and Caesalpinia gilliesii. Both are toxic to cats. The latter, Caesalpinia gilliesii, is more toxic and can cause more problems, such as intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty swallowing. The Strelitzia variety may cause mild nausea and drowsiness.

    • Toxic properties: Possibly hydrocyanic acid
    • Safe Alternative: Bromeliads
  • 19 of 20

    Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

    Hardy mum plant with bright red flowers and leaves

    The Spruce / Gyscha Rendy

    Late-season blooming mums are the darling flower of fall but are toxic to cats. They contain several substances that, when ingested by felines, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, or skin irritation. Pyrethrin naturally occurs in mums and is commonly used in pesticides, dog flea and tick medication, shampoos, and collars; however, it is toxic when used on cats.

    • Toxic properties: Sesquiterpene, lactones, pyrethrins, and other potential irritants
    • Safe Alternative: Marigold
  • 20 of 20

    Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

    poinsettias

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

    Poinsettia is a perennial shrub native to Mexico that is mildly toxic to cats and not nearly as lethal as once thought. The milky sap from the plant can cause mouth and stomach irritation, vomiting, drooling, and skin irritation.

    • Toxic properties: Diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents
    • Safe Alternative: Polka dot plant

Research is necessary before bringing new plants into a home with cats. Though you can remedy this by putting the toxic plants out of reach, it is better to find plants that are safe for cats to help ensure the good health of your feline friends.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lee, Min-Sun et al. Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomized crossover study. Journal of physiological anthropology, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 21, 2015. doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8

  2. UC Davis Toxic Plant Garden. University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

  3. Lovely Lilies and Curious Cats: A Dangerous Combination. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

  4. Peace Lily. ASPCA Animal Poison Control.

  5. Aloe. ASPCA Animal Poison Control.

  6. Cutleaf Philodendron. ASPCA Animal Poison Control.

  7. Golden Pothos. ASPCA Animal Poison Control.

  8. Jade Plant. ASPCA Animal Poison Control.

  9. Reduce Indoor Air Pollution with Houseplants Part 2: Golden Pothos and Snake Plant. Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners.

  10. Sago Palm. ASPCA Animal Poison Control.

  11. English Ivy. ASPCA Animal Poison Control.

  12. Magill, Alan J. et al. Poisonous Plants and Aquatic Animals, Hunter's Tropical Medicine and Emerging Infectious Disease (Ninth Edition), pp. 923-937, W.B. Saunders, 2013. doi:10.1016/B978-1-4160-4390-4.00211-3

  13. Kalanchoe species poisoning in pets. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  14. How to Spot Which Lilies Are Dangerous to Cats & Plan Treatment. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  15. Hyacinth. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  16. Oleander: Beautiful but Deadly to Pets. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals.

  17. The dangers of yew ingestion. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  18. April showers may bring spring bulbs. What does that mean for your pet? American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  19. Bird of Paradise. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  20. Mum. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.