Are you kitty-proofing your garden? Learn all about plants for cats to eat
Being an amateur horticulture enthusiast and a kitty parent can put you on a tightrope. Cats are curious creatures who love nibbling on plants but often fail to recognise which ones are good for them. A kitty-safe garden, whether indoor or outdoor, must have only plants suitable for felines, but what plants are safe for cats to eat?
Cats are obligate carnivores, and there’s absolutely no need for vegetables, fruit, grain, or any other plant in their diet. When cat-proofing your garden, you should not only focus on eliminating toxic plants but also ensure your kitty doesn’t munch on the safe ones excessively. Overeating plant-based food is never a good idea for felines as it can trigger stomach upsets and diarrhoea.
In this guide, we’ll discuss:
- What plants can cats eat safely?
- What plants are not safe for cats to eat?
- How to stop cats from devouring (and demolishing!) your garden
Do carnivores even like plants?
Many carnivores eat plants to get rid of parasites ingested while consuming raw meat from their prey. Researchers believe that eating plants may be instinctive behaviour inherited from your feline’s wild ancestors.
What type of plants do cats like to eat?
Domestic cats don’t eat plants out of necessity but might be attracted to those that smell good. Cats have a keen olfactory sense and are naturally captivated by plants that emanate a pleasing odour, but not all fragrant plants are safe for feline consumption.
If your kitty fancies eating a plant, it could be because they are:
- Craving fibre—Cats crave fibre when they’ve swallowed something indigestible, like bones, hairballs, feathers, and fish scales. Fibre binds the indigestible matter and helps expel it as poo or vomit. Since plants are rich in cellulose fibre, your cat may eat them when they feel stuffed
- Bored—Bored kitties display repetitive behavioural patterns like obsessive grooming, chewing or scratching rugs and couches, and gorging on anything that seems edible, including plants
Oh, they’re green alien freaks, hooman. You want me to fight them for you? I’ll eat them and beat them till they’re mush.
How to know what plants are good for cats to eat
There’s no fixed way to determine whether a plant is kitty-safe or not. Plants are made up of different compounds, some of which are toxic to felines. Cats cannot recognise potentially dangerous components in plants, so you should keep known bad actors out of their paw’s reach.
The general rule is that consuming a small amount of a “good plant” would have a neutral effect on a kitty’s health, but eating a “bad plant” can cause toxicosis entailed by the following symptoms:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Wheezing and coughing
- Itching and inflamed or tender skin
- Excessive shedding
- Severe seizures
- Loss of appetite
- Shock and coma
Best houseplants for indoor cats to eat
You don’t have to compromise your kitty’s safety to surround yourself with lush greenery around the house. The table below contains some popular houseplants cats can eat in small quantities:
Description and benefits
Catnip is an olfactory stimulant, and inhaling it induces a euphoric response in some adult cats. Eating catnip stems, leaves, or flowers, whether fresh or dried, can calm your feline and help them sleep. Catnip can be brewed into a tea or added to a meat soup or bone broth for cats
Prayer plant, or Maranta leuconeura, is known for its glossy leaves and gorgeous patterns. It’s safe for cats to eat as it contains no irritating chemicals or oils
Cat-friendly grasses include fresh, thin blades of oat, wheat, barley, and lemongrass. They are low-maintenance plants, and kitties love their crunchy texture
Chewing silver vine, or Actinidia polygama, promotes feline dental health as it helps remove tartar from their teeth. The plant’s stem can be a choking hazard, so be careful if you have it around the house
Like catnip, valerian is also a pungent plant that may act as a sedative for cats. Some parents use it to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety in high-strung felines
Kitties adore the ribbon-like leaves of spider plants. While it has no special smell and is non-toxic, this plant can be mildly hallucinogenic for cats
Fresh herbs not only upgrade homemade dishes but also smell delightful to cats. Here are some kitty-safe herbs you can grow:
My Spidey-Sense says spider plants are okay to eat, or do you want to give me a meat treat?
Source: Nadiye Odabaşı
Outdoor plants that cats can eat
- Olive—Kitties are attracted to the smell of isoprenoids in olive plants, which triggers excitable behaviour in cats (much like catnip). Many cats love to chew on olive fruit, but it’s rare for them to eat it whole
- Liquorice root—Liquorice root has anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe the mucous membranes in cats prone to allergies
- Bamboo—Bamboo is non-toxic to cats, although they hardly ever eat it. Most felines either chew the plant or use it as a shade
Cats naturally gravitate towards fragrant fruits and flowers in any garden. Here are some kitty-safe options:
Look, hooman, it’s like a Van Gogh painting came to life! How can I resist it?
Remember that the examples above don’t mean that you should regularly feed these plants to your kitty. It merely suggests that they are not toxic or dangerous. Eating plants makes your cat sick and leads to gagging or throwing up undigested food.
Luckily, most plants are not tasty to felines, so they won’t eat large portions. If any plant piques your kitty’s curiosity, they will probably have a nibble and leave it alone. You should be cautious and monitor your kitty’s outdoor play-time to ensure they don’t gorge on fruit, herbs, or vegetables!
What about plants that are bad for cats to eat?
Some plants are dangerous for cats, as they contain moderate to high concentrations of toxic chemicals or tummy-irritating oils. Here are some examples:
- Nightshade—This plant damages the nervous system of cats because of a deadly compound called steroidal glycoalkaloid solanine
- Rhubarb leaves and stalk—They contain oxalic acid which irritates your cat’s mouth and tummy
- Allium vegetables—Allium veggies include leeks, onions, chives, and garlic. Eating them causes vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, weight loss, abdominal cramps, and loss of appetite
- Citrusy plants—Tangy fruits contain essential oils limonene and linalool that are toxic to cats
- Avocado leaves—Avocado bark, fruit, seeds, and leaves can be toxic to cats in varying degrees due to a compound called persin
- Green tomatoes and potatoes—While ripe tomatoes and potatoes are safe for cats, the green ones are toxic. Cats should stay away from any tomato plant as its leaves and stems contain poisonous solanine
- Wild mushrooms—Store-bought mushrooms are kitty-safe, but wild variants may contain unknown toxins
- Grapes—Grapes can cause sudden kidney failure in cats
- Certain flowers—Beware of flowers that are highly toxic to cats, including iris, lilies, tulips, daisies, daffodils, hyacinths, lavender, foxglove, azaleas, mistletoe, chrysanthemums, widow's-thrill, and crocus (both spring and autumn variants)
If your kitty ate something toxic, they would show symptoms in 8–48 hours. Cats with a low body weight tend to experience more rapid and intense toxicity symptoms than those who weigh more. Reach out to a vet immediately if you think your kitty ingested something poisonous.
Flowers and cats have a complicated relationship. Blooms smell bewitching, but the toxic ones can spell doom for your kitty!
My cat craves plants all the time—what to do?
Cats shouldn’t crave plants. If your kitty does, it could be the sign of:
- An inadequate diet—Cats feel full on a high-protein diet of whole meat and organs. If their regular meals don’t meet their nutritional needs, they can start chewing houseplants and scavenging for table scraps as a psychological response. Kitties on a low-protein diet tend to suffer from frequent hairballs, and eating plants can help throw them up
- A nutrition deficiency—Since plants contain many vitamins and minerals, your kitty may seek certain plants in the case of a nutrient deficiency. It’s a concerning eating habit as cats are better off absorbing necessary nutrients from animal tissues
- Boredom or anxiety—Lack of mental stimulation drives many cats to eat plants. In such cases, increase your kitty’s activity levels by introducing interactive games and toys
In a study conducted in 2021, researchers found that:
- Naturally hyperactive kittens chewed plants more often than adults
- Most cats who ate plants didn’t show any previous signs of illness (it was either a pastime or a craving)
- About 37% of the cats had a gastric episode after eating plants
How to stop cats from eating houseplants
If you want to protect your kitty from plants (or your poor plants from your predatory kitty), here are some ideas:
- Make your plants stinky to your kitty by using over-the-counter cat repellent sprays or a homemade cayenne pepper spray
- Strategically place your plants away from their reach
- Ensure your kitty eats a balanced diet of animal proteins
- Feed them healthy meat-based snacks like freeze-dried raw chicken that’s contaminant-free and lean cuts of pork
What is the ideal diet for cats?
The ideal feline diet should have high protein (over 50%) and low fat (under 20%) content derived from meat.
The problem with many commercial cat food products is that they are loaded with filler ingredients, usually sugar, grains, sweetcorn, rice starch, etc. Cats do not need dietary carbs as they get 90% of their daily calories from protein and fat. A carb-rich diet can make your cat fat and cause feline diabetes. Avoid buying products that contain more than 3% carbohydrates.
Vets recommend feeding grain-free wet food to cats regularly, as dry or mixed diets are usually high in carbs and lack quality protein. Dry food can also cause dehydration in felines, which triggers conditions like IBS, constipation, and bladder stones.
On second thought, how ’bout we ditch bullying plants and try this beguiling new nom-nom instead. Smells delish, doesn’t it?
Image (c) Untamed
Untamed is the ultimate wet food for your kitty
If you are looking for wholesome and tasty wet food for your kitty, try Untamed. Our nutrient-dense gravy and jelly meals are made with human-grade whole meat, free from iffy fillers like sugar, grains, meat derivatives, and vegetable proteins.
Our recipes are designed by vets, ensuring your kitty gets essential micronutrients like taurine and vitamin E. Regular Untamed meals prevent nutritional imbalances, reduce odd cravings in your kitty, and improve their overall health and quality of life.
Why choose Untamed
Untamed is the perfect superfood for your kitty because our products:
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- Have bioavailable nutrients—Extreme heat or processing can destroy many antioxidants and micronutrients in cat food. We gently steam our meals to preserve their nutritional value
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Unforgettable taste that’s easy on the tummy—Untamed knows how to get on your kitty’s good side!
Image (c) Untamed
Untamed works for all felines—here’s why
Our products are suitable for cats at any life stage. Check out the details in the following list:
- Kittenhood—Our high-protein meals help weaned-off kittens reach their ideal weight without triggering nasty bouts of diarrhoea or vomiting. Kittens should eat small portions several times a day, so design a meal plan according to their current development stage
- Adulthood—Untamed is suitable for weight management in adult cats who struggle to stay fit. Our sugar-free meals are ideal for neutered and diabetic cats who need a limited amount of calories in a day. If you have a pregnant cat, you can meet their increased caloric needs by adding more Untamed cans to their diet
- Golden age—Untamed products are easy to digest because they're made of whole meat. Our delicious food helps frail seniors retain their appetite, maintain weight, and postpone age-related illnesses like hyperthyroidism and cystitis
The Untamed effect
Two to four months
After six months
Here’s how to order Untamed
Are you ready to introduce your kitty to lip-smacking Untamed meals? Get started with our trial pack—it's a tailor-made cat food box that goes with your pet's preferences! Here’s what you need to do:
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Your order will be on your doorstep within a day. If your kitty gives us the nod, we will deliver monthly Untamed supplies, so you no longer have to worry about cat food shopping! Our shipping is always free, and our cat food delivery service caters to your changing needs—you're free to modify, postpone, or cancel an order anytime!
Kitties, plants, and the environment—they’re all safe with Untamed!
Image (c) Untamed
We are an ethical cat food brand. We use 100% recyclable packaging for our products and delivery boxes. Our meat comes from cruelty-free and sustainable sources.
Our products are available in sturdy 75g cans with a shelf life of three years. They are storage-friendly and require no additional prep.
Want to distract your kitty with snacks? Embrace variety!
Even with the perceived benefits of certain plants, they are far from the ideal feline snacks. Your kitty might get an upset tummy and make a mess around the house. It’s also frustrating to witness your plants turned to shreds because your oaf cat won’t leave them alone.
Most plant-stalkers are bored indoor kitties who need variety in their daily schedule. Many cat parents use treats to keep their furry friends away from plants. The idea is to tame their hunger between meals, provide mental stimulation through food, and give them something to look forward to every day.
Remember that snacks should be given in small quantities. Check out some popular treats in the table below:
Types of snacks
Fat is delicious to cats, but overconsumption is harmful. Here are some popular treats your kitty will love that should be given in moderation:
Cats enjoy chewing on raw meat and bones but make sure to follow sanitary protocols because raw food from the human supply chain often contains various pathogens