is calathea toxic to cats

Is Calathea Toxic to Cats and How to Keep Your Feline Safe

Is Calathea toxic to cats? This question often puzzles cat owners who cherish these vibrant houseplants. Calathea, known for its striking leaves and air-purifying qualities, is a popular choice among plant enthusiasts. This article dives into the crucial aspects of Calathea’s impact on cats, ensuring your feline friends stay safe and healthy.

Calathea Overview


Calathea, a genus of plants belonging to the family Marantaceae, is native to the tropical Americas. These plants are admired for their beautifully patterned and colorful foliage, which makes them a popular choice among houseplant enthusiasts. Understanding the characteristics and varieties of Calathea is essential for appreciating their place in a cat-friendly home.

Unique Features

Calathea plants are known for their distinctive leaf patterns and vibrant colors. Their leaves often have various shades of green, and some species feature beautiful markings in purple, pink, or white. An interesting aspect of Calathea is their nyctinasty movement; their leaves move up at night and lower during the day, a phenomenon often referred to as the “prayer plant” movement.

Varieties of Calathea

There are several varieties of Calathea, each with its own unique appeal. Some popular varieties include:

  • Calathea Orbifolia: Known for its large, round leaves with bold green stripes, this variety is a statement piece in any indoor garden.
  • Calathea Lancifolia (Rattlesnake Plant): Recognizable by its long, wavy leaves that are green on top and purple underneath, with distinctive splotches.
  • Calathea Zebrina (Zebra Plant): Features striking leaves with a zebra-like pattern, boasting a deep green color and a velvety texture.

Growth and Care

Calathea plants prefer indirect, moderate light and high humidity, which mimics their natural tropical habitat. They can be sensitive to both under and overwatering, so maintaining a consistent watering schedule is crucial. The use of lukewarm water is recommended, as cold water can shock their roots. Calathea plants also benefit from regular misting to maintain the humidity level, making them a bit more demanding in terms of care compared to other houseplants.

Calathea as Air Purifiers

Beyond their visual appeal, Calathea plants are known for their air-purifying qualities. They can help remove toxins from the air, making them a healthy addition to your home environment.

Significance in Home Décor

With their striking appearance, Calathea plants often serve as a focal point in interior decorating. Their lush foliage can add a sense of vitality and nature to any room, complementing various decor styles.

In summary, the Calathea is a diverse and visually stunning group of plants that, with the right care, can thrive in a home environment. Their compatibility with pet-friendly homes, especially those with cats, adds to their appeal, allowing plant lovers to enjoy their beauty without compromising the safety of their furry companions.

Is Calathea Toxic to Cats?

Toxic to Cats

One of the primary concerns for cat owners is the potential toxicity of houseplants, and understandably so. In the case of Calathea, the good news is that this plant is generally considered non-toxic to cats. This means that if your curious feline friend decides to take a nibble, it’s unlikely to suffer from any serious health issues as a direct result of ingesting Calathea leaves. However, it’s essential to understand the broader context and implications.

Understanding Plant Toxicity

The concept of plant toxicity varies greatly among different plant species. While some plants contain harmful chemicals that can cause severe reactions in pets, others, like Calathea, are non-toxic. This non-toxicity means that they don’t contain substances that can cause serious harm if ingested.

However, it’s important to note that individual reactions can vary. A cat with a sensitive digestive system or certain allergies might react differently to Calathea than others. As a precaution, monitoring any plant ingestion by cats is advisable.

Common Symptoms of Ingestion

If a cat ingests part of a Calathea plant, the most common reaction, if any, is mild gastrointestinal upset. This can manifest as symptoms such as vomiting, mild diarrhea, or a slight decrease in appetite. These symptoms are usually short-lived and resolve without the need for medical intervention. However, in cases where symptoms are persistent or severe, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention. A veterinarian can provide a proper assessment and determine if there’s a need for medical treatment.

Why Cats Eat Plants

Cats may be drawn to plants for several reasons. They might be attracted to the movement of the leaves, the texture of the plant, or out of simple curiosity. Some cats chew on plants as a way to alleviate boredom or because they enjoy the sensation. Providing safe, cat-friendly plants like cat grass can offer a suitable alternative for cats to satisfy their chewing instinct, diverting their attention away from potentially harmful plants.

When to See a Veterinarian

It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your pet. If your cat has ingested a significant amount of Calathea, or if you notice any unusual symptoms such as prolonged vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or any other concerning signs, a visit to the veterinarian is warranted. They can conduct a thorough examination and determine if any specific treatment is necessary.

Precautionary Measures

Despite Calathea being non-toxic, it’s wise to take preventive steps. Keeping plants out of your cat’s reach can prevent any potential issues. This can be particularly important for plants that might cause even mild discomfort if ingested. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with the signs of plant ingestion can help in early detection and response if your cat does consume plant material.

Expert Opinions

Consulting with a veterinarian or a plant expert can offer valuable insights, especially if you have multiple plants and pets at home. They can provide advice on how to safely keep plants in a home with pets and suggest specific plant species that are known to be safe for cats.

In conclusion, Calathea plants can be a safe and visually appealing addition to a home with cats. While they are generally considered non-toxic, understanding the nuances of plant toxicity and observing your cat’s behavior around plants will ensure a safe environment for your pet.

Preventive Measures for Cat Owners

Cat Owners

Ensuring the safety of both houseplants and cats requires implementing specific preventive measures. Here are some detailed strategies to help cat owners protect their feline friends from potential harm:

1. Elevate Plants

Placing plants on high shelves or in hanging planters can effectively keep them out of your cat’s reach. This method not only protects the plants from being chewed on but also prevents the soil from being scattered or used as a litter box. When elevating plants, ensure that the shelves or hangers are secure to prevent any accidental falls that could harm your cat or damage the plant.

2. Use Plant Stands

Tall, stable plant stands are a great option to keep plants away from curious cats. Opt for stands that have a heavy base to reduce the risk of tipping over. You can also choose stands with multiple levels, allowing you to display several plants in a compact area while keeping them out of your cat’s reach.

3. Cat Repellents

Natural repellents can be effective in keeping cats away from plants. Spraying a mixture of water and vinegar around the plant or placing citrus peels in the pot can deter cats due to their aversion to these smells. It’s important to test these repellents on a small part of the plant first to ensure they don’t cause any adverse reactions.

4. Train Your Cat

Consistent training can teach your cat to stay away from plants. Whenever your cat approaches a plant, gently redirect them or use a firm voice command. Positive reinforcement, like giving treats for obeying commands, can also be an effective training tool.

5. Create a Cat-friendly Zone

Designate an area in your home with cat-safe plants, like cat grass, where your cat can satisfy its craving for greenery. This can include a small indoor garden or specific plants placed in an area accessible to your cat. The presence of these plants can make your cat less interested in other houseplants.

6. Cover the Soil

Cats may be tempted to dig in the soil of potted plants. To prevent this, cover the soil with decorative rocks or a layer of mesh. This not only deters digging but also adds to the aesthetic appeal of the plant.

7. Regular Check-ups

Regularly inspect your plants for signs of damage or tampering. This not only helps in maintaining the health of the plants but also lets you monitor if your cat is showing interest in them. Early detection of any interaction can help you take timely action to prevent harm.

8. Educate Yourself and Family Members

Knowledge is key in preventing accidental ingestion of toxic plants. Educate yourself and your family about which plants are safe and which are not. Awareness and shared responsibility can significantly reduce the risk to your pets.

9. Immediate Response Plan

Have a plan in place for what to do if your cat ingests a potentially harmful plant. This includes having the contact information of your veterinarian and an emergency vet clinic handy, as well as knowing the basic steps of first aid for pets.

10. Distractions and Alternatives

Providing ample distractions like toys, scratching posts, and cat towers can keep your cat entertained and less likely to explore plants. Additionally, offering safe alternatives for chewing, such as cat grass or specially designed chew toys, can satisfy their natural instincts.

Implementing these preventive measures can significantly reduce the risks associated with having houseplants in a home with cats. It’s about finding the right balance between enjoying your plants and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of your feline friend.

Safe Plant Alternatives for Cat Owners

When it comes to creating a pet-friendly indoor garden, cat owners need to be especially mindful of the plants they choose. While Calathea is a safe option, there are several other plants that are not only non-toxic but can also add beauty and freshness to your home without posing a risk to your feline friends.

1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider Plant

Image source: Pinterest

Renowned for its hardiness and low maintenance, the Spider Plant is an excellent choice for busy cat owners. Its long, arching leaves and spiderettes (small offshoots) can be quite intriguing to cats. These plants are resilient to a little nibbling and are known for their air-purifying qualities. They thrive in a variety of light conditions and can be easily propagated, making them a fun and interactive plant for both you and your cat.

2. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Boston Fern

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The Boston Fern is a lush, vibrant plant that adds a touch of wilderness to your home. These ferns are perfect for hanging baskets, which keep them out of reach of cats, yet still add aesthetic value. They require a bit more attention in terms of humidity and indirect light but are completely safe for cats who might be tempted to take a nibble.

3. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Bamboo Palm

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Ideal for adding a tropical touch to your living space, the Bamboo Palm is also known for its air-cleaning properties. It’s a taller plant, which can be a good choice if you want to keep the leaves away from curious felines. Bamboo Palms prefer bright, indirect light and can grow quite large, making them a statement piece in your indoor garden.

4. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Areca Palm

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The Areca Palm is known for its beautiful, feather-like fronds and air-purifying abilities. It’s a fantastic choice for cat owners looking for a larger, statement indoor plant. These palms prefer a sunny spot with indirect light and regular watering, making them a delightful addition to a sunlit room.

5. Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

Parlor Palm

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Compact and charming, the Parlor Palm is perfect for smaller spaces or as a tabletop plant. It’s adaptable to a variety of indoor conditions, from low light to brighter spots. Because of its smaller size, it’s easy to place this palm in a spot that’s out of reach for cats, while still contributing to your home’s greenery.

6. African Violet (Saintpaulia)

African Violet

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If you’re looking for a pop of color, African Violets are a safe bet. These small, flowering plants come in a variety of colors and can bloom with proper care. They require a bit more attention, especially regarding their watering and light needs, but their vibrant flowers make it worthwhile.

7. Cat Grass (various species)

Cat Grass

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Specifically grown for cats, cat grass is a mix of grasses like wheatgrass, barley, and oatgrass. It’s a great way to provide your cat with some safe greenery to nibble on. Cat grass is easy to grow and can be a healthy addition to your cat’s diet, aiding in digestion.

8. Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

Money Tree

Image source: Pinterest

The Money Tree, with its unique braided trunk and vibrant green leaves, is not only non-toxic but also considered to bring good luck. It thrives in moderate to bright indirect light and needs watering only when the soil is dry to the touch, making it a low-maintenance choice for cat owners.

By choosing these non-toxic plants, cat owners can enjoy the beauty and benefits of an indoor garden without worrying about the health and safety of their feline companions.


In summary, Calathea is a safe plant choice for households with cats. While it poses no significant toxicity risk, it’s always wise to practice preventive measures to keep your pets safe. With the right selection and placement of plants, you can enjoy the beauty of Calathea without compromising the health and safety of your feline companions.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.