Let’s Talk Non-Toxic Plants for Cats — What Plants Can Your Cat Eat?

Is rosemary safe for cats? Can cats eat their catnip? What about mint ... or catmint? Let’s talk about non-toxic plants for cats … and toxic plants for cats to avoid at all costs.

A cat in a field of flowers.
A cat in a field of flowers. Photography by HHelene / Shutterstock.

We spend a lot of time talking about the plants cats shouldn’t eat (tiger lilies, day lilies, and Easter lilies, for starters — lilies are bad, mmmkay?), but what plants can cats eat? Are there any non-toxic plants for cats?

Kitties are obligate carnivores, meaning they require a diet of meat, meat and more meat — so plants are just a fun, nutritionally void snack, kind of like that last box of Girl Scout cookies in your kitchen. It’s also possible that cats eat grass to help clear their digestive tracts of hairballs and other detritus — in other words, so they can barf it right back up.

Fortunately, there are several non-toxic plants for cats you can grow at home on your patio garden, satisfying your human need to be surrounded by colorful living things while simultaneously ensuring kitty will be safe if she decides to make your window box into a breakfast buffet. Let’s get the scoop on non-toxic plants for cats:

1. Can cats eat catnip?

An orange cat sniffing catnip.
Can cats eat catnip? Yes! And you can even grow your own catnip at home. Photography by gvictoria/Thinkstock.

It’s super cheap and easy to grow catnip at home. All you need is a packet of seeds and a pot of soil, and before you know it your happy kitty will be able to get as stoned as her little heart desires. Catnip requires full sunlight, so you may need to keep it outdoors — and, naturally, out of reach of other neighborhood wanderers who might want a taste. Growing it in a container might be preferable, because this member of the mint family can be invasive. Most cats love catnip, and yes, it’s fine if your cat eats the catnip.

2. Can cats eat oat grass?

Oat grass, typically marketed as “cat grass,” is on our list of cat-friendly plants. Simply plant the seeds in a pot (any size will do), and within a couple of weeks you’ll have a thick, luscious patch of greenery for kitty to enjoy. I typically leave the grass outside and bring it in every couple of days for Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix to munch on. I do keep an eye on them, though, or they’ll eat the whole thing.

3. Can cats eat bean sprouts?

These earthy little bits of roughage quickly add texture and crunch to any salad or sandwich — and in small amounts, they’re harmless to cats. If you want to hone your green thumb but know your kitty will devour anything you manage to grow, sprouts are a great way to get your fix and ensure your feline friend stays safe.

4. What kinds of herbs can cats eat?

A leashed and harness cat in a garden.
What herbs can cats eat? Photography by Vera / Shutterstock.

In addition to bean sprouts, various herbs are also harmless to cats (in small quantities, of course; remember that cats are mad about meat, so plants are not a vital component of their diet). Valerian root, known for inducing sleep in humans, has the opposite effect on cats, causing your lazy kitty to get up and go (but it kind of smells like a foot). Many common herbs used for seasoning are also among cat-safe plants, including basil, dill, catmint, parsley and rosemary.

Given the choice between herbs and grass, however, cats are more likely to choose grass, so keeping them side by side may discourage kitty from destroying your dinner plans.

5. What flowers can cats eat?

It might seem no bouquet is safe from your cats, but certain flowers are safe for your cats. Some options include roses, zinnias, gerber daisies, sunflowers, roses and snapdragons. Bad news: Tulips are potentially toxic! So are carnations, daffodils and — you guessed it — lilies. Keep these flowers away from your cat and call a vet ASAP if you suspect she ingested any of them.

Curious about a plant-based diet yourself? See how a plant-based diet can help you live longer >>

About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix. 

Thumbnail: Photography by HHelene / Shutterstock.

This piece was originally published in 2015. 

Read more about cats and plants on Catster.com:

34 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Non-Toxic Plants for Cats — What Plants Can Your Cat Eat?”

  1. I love this blog! I have a two-year-old cat and I'm always looking for ways to keep her healthy and safe. I've been reading your blog and I'm interested in learning more about non-toxic plants for

  2. William Lamoreaux

    I want to plant a mix of Wild Flowers in the yard that are safe for cats. I know there are mixes at the plant shops but when you look at the seeds they are colorful but if a cat eats one out of the it is toxic to them. Do you have a suggestion. I know that sunflowers and babies breath are ok but would like something with purple yellow and red in the mix that bloom in the summer for color. Maybe this is wishful thinking. We live in Colorado and the area is dry and lots of sun in the summer. Any suggestions.

    Thank you Bill Lamoreaux

  3. Hi-

    I have a picky cat who’s losing weight on a diet of dry food and wet food. If I give her wet food, she just licks up the sauce and won’t actually eat the meat. I’m thinking about trying to cook some nutrient rich foods for her to try and get her weight back up. What foods would be best for that?

      1. Tuna water….
        Water from a can of salmon…
        In my cats wet food I put a touch of water around the food that is piled in the middle for extra hydration.
        It sounds like your cat ( like mine) has muscle wasting happening.
        I also put a dropper of electrolytes in her bowl of water for her minerals.

  4. Pingback: Kitty Vs. The Christmas Tree | Semper Fi Siberians

  5. I have been wanting to grow some bug repelling plants around the house like citronella, but am thinking I can’t now cause of kitty. Any suggestions?

  6. My cat loves to eat beans. But I only give in very small amounts. I read an online post saying that it is safe to feed cats some beans as a treat.

  7. Pingback: The Top 6 Indoor Plants for Cats (Non Toxic) – PetNaturopath.com

  8. Got a sick cat not eating but still drinking lots of water, has advanced kidney issues, been told to feed stinging nettle tea and apple cider vinegar, saw improvement, stopped and she’s back to no eating. Not even her raw beef cube that she loves. Anyone got suggestions…

    1. Hi Edwin,
      We suggest seeing a vet ASAP. These articles might provide some insight but please seek help from the pros:

    2. I use Forti Flora over my cat’s food daily. It helps encou8rage her to eat.She is very finicky.It has a good flavor.I sprinkle 1/2 pack over wet food and add approx a tsp of water and mix it up. Forti flora is an excellent vet approved probiotic.I use it also on my cat who had pancreas issues. It has worked for her for almost two years,daily.She is 16 lbs,so I use an entire pack once daily instead of splitting a pack into two separate feedings.

    3. Roberta “Bert” D

      Dehydration as you probably know, becomes a big problem and other serious health issues. When my old cats were still eating some dry food, I’d switched them to a grain free, like Blue sweet potatoe and turkey, that sort of thing, but primarily wet food. It came down to whatever quality of life I could give them. Get whatever wet food the kitty will eat. Sometimes rescue places use chicken baby food but you need to make sure it’s the unsalted kind. I wish I’d consulted with more vets at the time. You really need their input.

  9. Sally A Dabrowski

    lavender also is toxic to cats: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/lavender

    1. Hi there,
      This is an older piece that we recently updated. We’ve since updated this piece to take lavender off the list.

  10. Lee in Phoenix

    I guess we’ve been lucky. Over the last 32 years I have brought my wife a lot of flowers, ranging from fancy roses to grocery store mixed bouquets. We’ve had 2 or 3 cats all that time and never had one taste the plants. They do like catnip, though. Is it really common for cats to eat flowers?

  11. I have a plant chewer (totally indoors) I live house plants but have not had any for a long time. Would like some info on safe indoor house plants to have with cats

  12. Practical style in general. The front part is actually a collar. But, when I properly adjusted it to the neck diameter, the top part become too short to place the back part in a right position. If I loose the collar it becomes too easy for cat to escape. Strangle fit in my opinion. Also buckles are very small and tight. Uncomfortable to open and close. Not for seniors, arthritis sufferes or those with manicure. :) All in all looks like somebody took a good idea but did not know how to make it right.
    I think they’re history..

  13. Pingback: Let’s Talk Non-Toxic Plants for Cats — What Plants Can Your Cat Eat? | Speaking of Pets at Rescue Pet Supply

  14. Jeffrey Donovan

    Please do more research on the toxicity of oregano in cats. I have found several sources which discus the intestinal discomfort it causes as well as lasting liver damage.

  15. Some recently published houseplant guides include information on what plants are safe to have around pets, including cats. I don’t have dogs, and don’t know if they like to chew/eat houseplants, but my cats certainly do.
    Unfortunately, many popular houseplants are toxic.

      1. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/oregano
        You are inaccurate about oregano as well. I’m not sure I would trust your information if you are not more careful about something so important.

        1. Hi there,
          This is an older piece that we recently updated. We’ve since updated this piece to take oregano off the list.

  16. Annie in Florida

    I didnt know geraniums were bad for cats. That is interesting.
    I always knew that Diffenbachia could be fatal for animals. But the list given was surprising to me.
    I also did not know that a felines diet “should” be purely meat based. That is not what we were told for many years. I would like some clarification on this so I know I am giving Mr Bear the best food possible.
    One of my biggest questions is this: why are so many cat foods now proclaiming to be “grain free”? Why is that important? I dont get it. I give my cat a urinary dry food (he has had a tendency to partial blockages – FLUTD-). I mix glucosamine in one of those smelly “lickable” treats every day, along with extra water, and for almost a year now, he has no further troubles with that.

    1. Hi Annie,
      Thanks for reaching out! Read more about cat food here: https://www.catster.com/topic/cat-food/

    2. Hi
      I wanted to let you know we live in FL and have a natural pet food store the owner was a zoologist at Miami Zoo. She wants people to understand the way to keep you cat healthy is for them to be fed raw meat but quality is extremely important. I have 3 cats tha are fed 90% raw Primal food. It is actually costing me the same as good quality dry food but I won’t be up against kidney stones all the other many feline problems. All I can say is a animal hunts for there food. Also my Shih Tzu is on Excalibur with Tripe raw food and he is healthy at 14 years old. Again much healthier then dry foods of any quality. I don’t know if that helps you. You can find companies online that can ship the food in dry ice. I have a freezer so I drive and stock up. Thaw the food and put in cube trays freeze and put in ziplocks pull out as needed. My cats are hooked on Primal Nuggets Beef And Salmon they eat a nugget in AM and PM each. I do have a high quality dry out for them but they eat very little of it.????

      1. My cats hate Primal, the raw frozen version. They will eat the freeze dried version. Mostly, I just crumble it up and add it over top of their other food.

  17. Donna Sue Hooker

    I use clump and seal cat litter for my Kitty. It is nice and sandy but not harsh on paws. I bought a plastic clear storage box for her cat box.
    24″l x 17″w x 7″ h….. Works Great. It gives her plenty of room to dig and spend some time in her box with room for her business.
    I have a cat litter mat that works great for messy paws. Donna Sue

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