Safe Plants for Cats: What to Have in Your Garden

A gray kitten next to a vase of yellow flowers.
Remove plants--many are toxic to cats. Photography by kuban_girl / Shutterstock.

If you’re like me, you’d love to have plants in your home, but you worry that they may not work and play well with your feline housemates. We all know that catnip and oat grass are obvious choices for your cat, but what if you want plants for you? Is basil safe for cats? Are petunias poisonous to cats? And what about cilantro? Here’s a list of safe plants for cats to have in your garden.

A cat outside in a garden.

Herb Gardens

Herbs can be a wonderful accompaniment to meals, and often they add more than just flavor: Some of them even provide important antioxidants that can help keep us healthy. Here are a few of my favorite cat-safe herbs:

1. Basil is safe for cats

(Ocimum basilicum) is a member of the mint family, and like most mints, it is safe for cats to consume. I can’t even imagine a summer without salads made of fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Basil out on a table.

2. German Chamomile is safe for cats

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is a member of the daisy family. If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll know this stuff well: It makes for a great fresh tea on a hot summer day. Please note that English Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is toxic to cats. Make sure you get the right kind!

3. Coriander is safe for cats

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), also known as cilantro, is a key herb in the cookery of almost the whole world. Coriander leaves are commonly used in Mexican, Chinese, and South Asian cuisine.

Cilantro in a garden.

4. Dill is safe for cats

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a great way to spice up a cucumber salad, borscht, or your favorite fish dish. It’s especially yummy on salmon.

5. Parsley is safe for cats

Parsley (Petroselinum hortense) is another great cat-safe herb. Although it’s often used as a garnish or sprinkled on top of potato or rice dishes, it’s also a key ingredient in tabbouleh salad.

A cat surrounded by plants, drinking water.

Flower Gardens

If you’re not big on cooking but you love to plant things that look and smell beautiful, fear not: There are plenty of cat-safe flowers for you to choose from.

1. Cornflower is safe for cats

Cornflower is safe for cats (Centaurea cyanus), also known as Bachelor’s Button, will add a beautiful blue to your flowerpots. As an extra bonus, the flower is edible and can be used to add color to salads.

A cat with yellow eyes looking through a crack in a door.

2. Impatiens are safe for cats

Impatiens (any member of the species) comes in so many amazing colors and flower shapes that you can find something to fit any color palette or sun level.

3. Moon Orchids are safe for cats

If you’re a hardcore gardener and you live in the right climate zone, the Moon Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis) can bring a gorgeous aroma and beautiful flowery goodness to your home.

4. Petunias are safe for cats

If you’re not such a hardcore gardener, Petunias (all 35 species of them) are easy to grow, come in lots of beautiful colors. and smell absolutely amazing!

A cat asleep in a garden next to some Adirondack chairs.

5. Zinnias are safe for cats

Zinnias also come in a variety of colors and, as a bonus, are also known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Do you have some safe plants for cats that look good on your indoor or balcony gardens? Please share them with us below! For more information on cat-safe plants, consult the ASPCA’s list of toxic and nontoxic plants.

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