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Why Do Cats Eat & Chew on Plants? Facts & Plant Guide

Written by: Jordin Horn

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat and plants_shutterstock_Stenko Vlad

Why Do Cats Eat & Chew on Plants? Facts & Plant Guide

Cats are usually carnivorous, preferring to hunt down small game like mice or birds. However, sometimes you might find your cat snacking on some leaves in your home or garden. Should you stop her from doing this?

It depends on what plant it is because some plants are toxic to cats, and even the toxicity can vary from plant to plant. Let’s investigate this issue and find out face divider 2

Why Do Cats Eat Plants?

While the reason cats eat or chew on plants isn’t entirely known, there are some speculations around the subject.

Here are a few possibilities as to why you might fight your cat nibbling on houseplants or outdoor plants:
  • For added nutrients, like fiber
  • They like the taste (hello, catnip!)
  • They are bored
  • The fluttering leaves attract their attention

This behavior might be fine with you, but you need to know which plants are toxic for cats in order to know for sure if it’s okay or not.

Cat Biting Plant
Featured Image Credit: PeakPX

Plants That Are Toxic for Cats

You should assume that all parts of a toxic plant are bad for your cats: leaves, flowers, stems, and all. Here’s a list of plants that are toxic for cats, according to PetMD:

  • Amaryllis
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons
  • Castor Bean
  • Chrysanthemum, Daisy, Mum
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodils, Narcissus
  • Dieffenbachia
  • English Ivy
  • Hyacinth
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lily
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Marijuana
  • Oleander
  • Peace Lily
  • Pothos, Devil’s Ivy
  • Sago Palm
  • Spanish Thyme
  • Tulip
  • Yew

If you want to have these plants around, make sure they are out of your cat’s reach, or spray them with a taste deterrent like Bitter Apple. You could also try a motion-activated, harmless spray like PetSafe that goes off when your cat gets too close.

3 cat face divider

What Happens if My Cat Eats a Toxic Plant?

A cat who comes into too close contact with or ingests a toxic plant will probably display signs of inflammation, swelling, and itchiness around the face. If your cat ate the plant, the reaction could be happening inside the stomach or intestines, and you will most likely see diarrhea and/or vomiting.

These are the least serious symptoms a cat will display. Depending on the plant, you may see failure of internal organs like the lungs, kidneys, or heart. When this happens, the situation can turn fatal without proper immediate care.

These more serious signs include labored breathing, difficulty swallowing, drooling, excessive urinating, and irregular heartbeat. Get your cat some emergency help right away if you see these signs.

How Do I Keep My Cat From Eating Toxic Plants?

One surefire way to keep your cat from eating toxic plants is to remove the plant from your home or place it in a spot that is completely out of reach from your cat. This may prove to be a difficult task, though, as cats are known to get into every nook and cranny of any certain space.

Another way to discourage this behavior is by offering plants that are safe for your cat to eat, like catnip or wheatgrass. Plant it in a spot where your cat will see and enjoy it.

One final way to keep cats from eating toxic plants is by preventing boredom. Make sure there are plenty of toys to keep your cat occupied and out of trouble.3 cat divider


It could be really frightening to discover that your home contains plants that are harmful to your cat. We hope we have informed you thoroughly on what exact plants are not good for your cat and how to keep your cat away from these plants.

Related Reads: 

Featured Image Credit: Stenko Vlad, Shutterstock

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