Familiar as houseplants, spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) also grow well outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. These plants have long, grassy leaves, which you may just find your curious cat nibbling on. If so, don't worry because these plants aren't considered toxic to your feline friend. Even so, eating any plant matter could make your kitty mildly ill.
1. Spider Plants
The spider plant grows best in light shade or indirect sunlight with well-drained soil. It has long, ribbonlike green, yellow- or white-striped leaves and sometimes produces small white flowers. Mature plants produce shoots that contain miniature plantlets, which you can plant separately or leave attached to the mother plant. Whether grown in hanging baskets, in pots or planted outdoors, with care, spider plants can grow up to 2 1/2 feet wide, with leaves 2 to 3 feet long. Spider plants are hardy, with tuberous roots that should occasionally be split and replanted to prevent them from bursting through indoor containers.
Spider plants are not considered toxic to cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. While not poisonous, spider plants do have mild hallucinogenic effects when eaten by a cat because the plants contain chemical compounds related to opium, notes University of Wisconsin-Madison News. These compounds won't harm your kitty but eating any plant matter can result in an upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. To prevent these issues, keep the spider plants away from your feline friend if the kitty chews on them excessively. You can also spray the leaves of your spider plant with a bitter taste deterrent, which you can buy at pet stores.
3. Cat-Safe Gardening
Because spider plants are nontoxic, you can include them in a cat-safe garden both indoors and outdoors, without having to worry that your cat will become ill after nibbling on them. To prevent your cat from eating too much of the spider plants, which could harm the plant, provide other cat-friendly plants for your cat to snack on, like oat grass (Avena sativa). Oat grass grows in USDA zones 5 through 10, and you can also grow it indoors in containers. You can also plant the perpetual cat favorite, catnip (Nepeta cataria), which grows in USDA zones 3 through 7, either outdoors or indoors.
Spider plants are not only nontoxic for kitties to eat, but won't harm young children, which makes them safe additions to your home, according to the University of California, Davis. Some cats eat plant matter to make themselves vomit if their stomachs are bothering them or perhaps if they have a hairball, advises ASPCA. With nontoxic greenery, such as spider plants, this is OK, but if your kitty is snacking on all your plants, especially potentially toxic ones, it could become a problem. Prevent issues by keeping only nontoxic plants inside your home and, if your cat goes outside, discourage him from approaching any toxic plants by installing motion-activated sprinklers around them.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Spider Plants
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Spider Plant
- North Dakota State University Extension Service: Questions On: Cats
- University of Wisconsin-Madison News: Curiosities: Why Do Cats Seem Compelled to Eat Some Plants, Like My Poor Aloe, and Ignore Others?
- University of California, Davis: Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Chlorophytum Comosum
- Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to Do What You Want; Wendy Christensen
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Cats Who Eat Plants
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images