5 Pretty Plants That Are Also Safe for Cats

updated Nov 13, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Liz Calka

A few weeks ago when a friend approached me about adopting a kitten she was fostering, I couldn’t bring myself to say no. (Her name is Dahlia and she is perfect.) Here’s the problem: I’m a cat lover and a plant lover. And during my many years working in a plant shop I had heard plenty of tales of plants completely decimated by feline companions—bad for the plants, and sometimes bad for the cats, too. I don’t want any of my plants to pose a risk to my new furry love. So I’ve started investing in ones that are nontoxic to her and pretty to me. Here are five of my top picks.

Credit: Josh's Frogs

Lemon Button Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia ‘Duffii’)

The Lemon Button Fern has cute little fronds that smell like lemon when crushed (hence the name!). For best results, place it somewhere that gets indirect light. Do not let the soil dry out, and mist weekly for added humidity. Also, try planting this one in a terrarium! 

I’ve had many different Lemon Button Ferns over the years and they’re one of my favorite standbys for dainty foliage. These ferns are a hardy, yet delicate-looking, alternative to the finicky Maidenhair Fern. You will always find one of these in my collection.

African Violets (Saintpaulia)

African Violets are delicate-looking plants that are reminiscent of the Victorian era. Luckily, they’re both common and non-toxic to our feline friends. They will survive in a lower light situation, but to ensure that they bloom, put them in a spot that gets indirect to bright, indirect light. Water when the soil begins to dry out. I’ve found that my violets prefer to be bottom-watered, so I pour water right into the collection tray for the plant to suck up into the soil.

Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)

Baby Tears (yes, really) are the perfect plant for a shelf or in a terrarium. The plant drapes and has tiny little leaves that apparently someone thought resembled baby tears? Strange name aside, if you’re into delicate looking plants, this one is for you. It likes bright, indirect light and slightly moist soil. Beware of overwatering and of letting it dry out too much. Once you figure out a solid watering schedule, you’ll be golden. Be on the lookout for posers: Pilea depressa is often mislabeled as Baby Tears.


There are about 100 recognized varieties of Echeveria out there—which gives you a large pool to choose from if you’re a succulent lover with cats! These succulents are easy to find and easy to care for. They need direct to bright, indirect light to thrive. Water once the soil has completely dried out, and do not overwater if you don’t like rotting succulent leaves! 

Echeverias are also easy to propagate. Cut a healthy leaf from your plant and let the incision dry and scab over. Once it’s healed, place the leaf on top of a soil medium and wait. The leaves will start to sprout roots and will eventually grown an entirely new plant that will survive independently. Neat trick, right?

Pin Stripe Plant (Calathea ornata)

I love the Pin Stripe Plant because of its dark foliage that’s highlighted with pink pinstripes. There seems to be a bit of a divide in the online plant community as to the difficulty level in regards to this babe. I’ve found that mine thrives in bright, indirect to indirect light. I made the mistake of letting the soil dry out one too many times and ended up with crispy edges. To be safe, water your calathea when the top of the soil begins to dry and then mist it once a week to up the humidity factor.