While succulents may be one of the quickest and easiest ways to spruce up a room, pet parents should first pause to consider: Are succulents poisonous to cats? Whether you’ve planted them in your outdoor garden or potted them indoors, find out which succulents are poisonous for your furry friends and which are safe.
What are succulents?
Succulent plants have parts that are thickened or fleshy in order to store water. Succulents are also commonly considered “ornamental plants,” having grown in popularity in recent decades due to their unique appearance. The plants are also popular for their hardiness, as they require little maintenance to survive indoors.
Are succulents poisonous to cats? Avoid these 5 succulents if you have cats or dogs
While the sap of this common household plant is used for sunburns and other medicinal purposes, it’s also quite toxic to cats and dogs. If ingested, your pet may display signs of poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.
The miniature tree appearance of the Jade plant may look tempting to your cat. However, if your pet ingests the thick, woody stems or plump, oval leaves, they will likely experience symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, and low heart rate.
The sap of Euphorbia plants—such as Pencil Cactus or Crown of Thorns—can also be highly irritating for our pets (and us!). If Euphorbia sap comes in contact with the skin, it can cause a rash; if ingested, it can result in mouth irritation, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
This tropical flowering succulent is toxic to cats and dogs. Kalanchoe is often known as Devil’s Backbone, Mother-In-Law Plant, and Mother of Millions. Your pet will likely experience vomiting and diarrhea after ingesting Kalanchoe, but abnormal heart rhythms may also occur.
Sansevieria (Snake Plant)
Also known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue and Good Luck Plant (hardly!), Snake Plant can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested by cats or dogs. You’ll recognize Snake Plant by its stiff, vertical leaves.
What to do if you think your pet was poisoned
Pets exhibiting severe symptoms of any kind should be taken immediately to an emergency vet clinic or animal hospital. If your pet is experiencing mild symptoms, supervise them for at least the next 24 hours. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) if their symptoms don’t clear up within a short time.
5 succulents safe for cats and dogs
There are a number of succulents safe for cats and dogs, including but not limited to the following:
Echeveria is a family of rose-shaped succulents that come in a wide range of beautiful colors and shades. Some common Echeveria varieties include Blue Atoll, Princess Lace, Tippy, Ebony, Wax Agave, Prolific, Mexican Hens, and Moonglow.
Haworthia (Zebra Plant)
Haworthia, also known as Zebra Plant, is often described as a miniature aloe plant. Unlike Aloe Vera, Haworthia is not toxic to cats or dogs. These succulents may also have fat, juicy leaves and translucent flesh.
Opuntia (Prickly Pear)
Commonly known as Prickly Pear, Opuntia is a genus in the cactus family. These flat-jointed cacti may have edible pads, flowers, and fruit. Common varieties include Santa Rita, Silver Dollar, Eastern, Beavertail, and Bunny Ears.
Sedums, also known as Stonecrops, is a large genus of flowering plants. Sedums can be hardy or tender. Some common Sedum varieties include Burro’s Tail, Ghost Plant or Mother of Pearl, and Hardy Baby Tears.
Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)
Commonly called Hens and Chicks or Houseleeks, Sempervivum are succulent perennials that form mats composed of tufted leaves in rosettes. Sempervivum are ideal if you want colorful and cold-hardy succulents.
Why do cats eat plants?
Cats eat plants for the same reasons they sometimes eat grass:
- Plants contain vitamins and trace nutrients that may be missing from your cat’s diet.
- Plants can act as a laxative or way to induce vomiting if your cat is having digestive issues.
- Your cat may be anxious, stressed, or simply bored—and munching on plants is a great distraction.
How to keep cats out of succulents
Cats are experts at seeking out exactly what we don’t want them to find. That’s why it’s best to keep poisonous succulents out of the house altogether. Place safe succulents out of reach if possible, because your cat may decide to munch on those well! You can also spray your succulents with a safe concoction of ingredients that act as a cat deterrent: try a mix of vinegar, lemon (or other citrus juice), and water.
Don’t overlook these other poisonous houseplants
As with succulents, there are many houseplants considered safe for cats. However, some common plants are extremely toxic—even deadly. Be sure that you don’t keep any of the following plants in the house with your feline:
- Lilies – Lilium genus (Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and Asiatic lilies) and Hemerocallis genus (daylilies)
- Azalea and Rhododendron
- Sago Palm
- Castor Bean
Are succulents poisonous to cats? It turns out that you can’t be too careful when it comes to plants and your pets. Always be sure to learn the species of the succulent before you place it in an area your pet can reach—and select succulents safe for cats and dogs!
Certain succulents are toxic for cats and dogs, including Aloe Vera, Crassula (Jade), Euphorbia (such as Pencil Cactus or Crown of Thorns), Kalanchoe, and Sansevieria (Snake Plant).
Indoor succulents that are safe for cats and dogs include but are not limited to Echeveria, Haworthia (Zebra Plant), Opuntia (Prickly Pear), Sedums (Stonecrops), and Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks).
Keep poisonous succulents out of the house and place safe succulents out of reach, if possible. You can also spray your succulents with a mix of vinegar, lemon, and water as a deterrent.