Are Calathea Plants Toxic To Cats?

Do you want to add a touch of tropical paradise to your home but worry about the safety of your furry feline friends? Fear not. The Calathea plant is a great option. However, before you bring home this stunning, patterned plant, you may ask yourself – are Calathea plants toxic to cats?

Calathea plants are highly sought after for their striking foliage, boasting an array of patterns and colors like the Calathea Makoyana, Calathea Orbifolia, and Calathea Roseopicta. While these plants may be safe for humans, it’s crucial to understand potential dangers for our pets.

This blog post aims to debunk the myth surrounding the toxicity of Calathea plants for cats by exploring in-depth whether or not these beautiful plants pose any harm to our feline friends. We’ll investigate both the risks of ingestion and mere contact with Calatheas and provide a comprehensive guide on how you can keep your cats safe while still enjoying the stunning beauty of these plants in your home.

So if you’re a cat lover and plant enthusiast alike, read on and discover everything you need to know about whether or not Calathea plants are toxic to cats.

What are Calathea Plants?

Calathea plants are a true wonder of the plant kingdom. These tropical houseplants, belonging to the Marantaceae family, are native to South America, where they grow in humid forests. Their unique and colorful foliage has won the hearts of plant enthusiasts worldwide, making them one of the most sought-after houseplants on the market.

Calathea plants come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, with over 300 species to choose from. Some have bold patterns and bright colors that will add a pop of personality to any indoor space, while others have more subtle variations in color and texture for a more understated look. Popular varieties include Calathea zebrina, Calathea medallion, and Calathea orbifolia.

One of the most intriguing things about Calathea plants is their behavior. During the day, their leaves extend horizontally, absorbing as much sunlight as possible. But at night, they fold upward as if in prayer, revealing their colorful undersides. This behavior is due to their circadian rhythm and is not a cause for concern – it’s just one more reason to love these unique plants.

Not only are Calathea plants visually appealing, but they also have air-purifying properties that make them a great addition to any indoor space. They can help remove harmful toxins from the air, improving the air quality in your home or office. However, it’s important to note that some species of Calathea plants may be toxic to pets, particularly cats. While these plants are non-toxic to cats according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), ingesting large quantities of any plant material can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats. Therefore, it’s always best to monitor your cat’s behavior around your indoor plants and ensure they do not consume large quantities of any plant material.

Are Calathea Plants Toxic to Cats?

The answer is both yes and no. While calathea plants themselves are not toxic to cats, they can still cause harm if ingested.

The danger lies in the leaves of the calathea plant, which contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. If your curious cat chews or eats a calathea plant, these crystals can irritate their mouth and digestive system, leading to unpleasant symptoms like drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and oral irritation.

While these symptoms are generally mild and not life-threatening, in rare cases, severe ingestion of calathea plants can cause respiratory distress and swelling in the throat. This requires immediate veterinary attention to prevent further complications.

So how can you keep your feline friend safe while still enjoying your beloved calathea plants? Firstly, it’s crucial to keep your plants out of reach of your curious cat. Place them on high shelves or in rooms that your cat doesn’t frequent. You can also try using deterrents like citrus sprays or aluminum foil to discourage your cat from getting too close to your plants.

If you do notice any signs of ingestion or discomfort in your cat after exposure to calathea plants, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. With prompt treatment, most cats will make a full recovery.

Symptoms of Cat Poisoning from Calathea Plants

The Calathea plant is one such example, as it contains toxins that can cause various symptoms of poisoning if ingested by cats. To keep your feline friend safe and healthy, it’s crucial to be aware of the common symptoms of cat poisoning from Calathea plants.

Vomiting is the most common symptom of poisoning from Calathea plants in cats. Your cat may vomit shortly after ingestion or several hours later, and the vomit may contain plant material. Other symptoms such as diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite may also accompany vomiting.

Excessive salivation is another symptom to watch out for. Cats may drool excessively and have difficulty swallowing due to the irritation caused by the plant’s toxins. This can lead to pawing at the mouth or face, as well as restlessness and agitation.

Severe cases of Calathea plant poisoning can cause respiratory distress in cats, leading to difficulty breathing and wheezing. These symptoms may be accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and collapse, which require immediate veterinary attention as they can quickly become life-threatening.

In rare cases, Calathea plant poisoning can cause tremors, seizures, and paralysis in cats. If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, seek veterinary attention immediately.

How to Keep Your Cat Away from Calathea Plants

While these plants are not poisonous to cats, they can cause digestive issues if ingested in large amounts, and their delicate leaves can be easily damaged by curious paws. Here are some effective ways to keep your cat away from calathea plants:

Place the Plants Out of Reach

One of the simplest ways to prevent your cat from coming into contact with calathea plants is by placing them on high shelves or in rooms that your cat cannot access. This will ensure that your cat doesn’t accidentally ingest or damage the leaves.

Use Non-Toxic Repellents

There are several non-toxic repellents available on the market that can help deter cats from going near plants. Citrus spray or diluted vinegar around the base of the plant or sprinkling cayenne pepper on the soil can help keep cats away.

Train Your Cat

Training your cat to stay away from plants can be an effective approach. Positive reinforcement techniques such as giving your cat treats when they stay away from the plant or using a spray bottle filled with water to discourage them can be useful.

Provide Alternative Play Areas

Cats love to play, and providing them with alternative play areas such as toys or scratching posts can help divert their attention away from the plant.

Are Calathea Plants Toxic To Cats-2

Consider Getting Cat Grass

If you’re concerned that your cat may still try to nibble on the leaves of your calathea plant despite your best efforts, consider getting some cat grass. This type of grass is safe for cats to eat and can help satisfy their urge to chew on plants.

Alternatives to Calathea Plants for Cat Owners

Luckily, there are plenty of non-toxic plant alternatives that are both visually appealing and safe for pets.

First on our list is the spider plant. Not only is it easy to care for, but it also helps purify the air in your home. With its long, flowing leaves, this plant is sure to catch your eye and add a touch of greenery to any room. Plus, it can thrive in a variety of lighting conditions, making it a versatile option.

If you’re looking for a plant with an elegant and tropical feel, consider the parlour palm. This delicate plant thrives in low light conditions and can add some texture to your decor with its fronds. Its graceful appearance makes it an excellent choice for those who want to spruce up even the darkest corners of their homes.

For those who love flowering plants, the African violet is a gorgeous option that adds a pop of color to any room. These non-toxic plants prefer bright but indirect light and should be watered from the bottom to avoid getting water on their delicate leaves.

Are Calathea Plants Toxic To Cats-3

Finally, if you’re looking for a low-maintenance option, succulents such as echeveria or haworthia are perfect choices. These hardy plants require little watering and can survive in various lighting conditions. Their unique shapes and textures make them an interesting addition to any plant collection.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe Around Houseplants

Here are some tips to help you achieve this:

  • Research Plant Toxicity: Before bringing any new plants into your home, take the time to research whether or not they are toxic to cats. Even non-toxic plants can cause discomfort if ingested in large amounts.
  • Create a Safe Space: Provide your cat with their own designated area complete with toys, a bed, and a scratching post. This will help keep them away from your plants and give them a space to call their own.

  • Keep Plants Out of Reach: Hanging baskets or elevated shelves are great options for keeping plants out of your cat’s reach. You can also use deterrents such as double-sided tape or aluminum foil around the base of the plant to discourage them from getting too close.
  • Use Barriers: For larger plants that cannot be moved or elevated, consider using a plant stand or enclosure around the base of the plant. This will create a barrier between your cat and the plant, reducing the risk of ingestion.

  • Regularly Inspect Plants: Check your plants for damage or pests regularly, and promptly clean up any fallen leaves or debris. Pesticides and fertilizers can be harmful to cats if ingested, so it’s important to inspect your plants frequently.

Common Houseplants That Are Toxic to Cats

What you might not know is that some of the most common houseplants can be toxic to cats, causing mild to severe health problems. As an expert on this topic, I have researched and compiled a comprehensive list of plants to avoid.

First on the list are lilies. These beautiful flowers may seem harmless, but even a small amount of lily pollen or ingestion of lily leaves can cause kidney failure in cats. It’s best to avoid keeping lilies in your home if you have cats.

Another plant to watch out for is the poinsettia, often seen during the holiday season. While they add festive cheer, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues in cats if ingested.

Dieffenbachia and pothos plants contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause mouth irritation, difficulty swallowing, and respiratory problems in felines. Even though these plants are popular for their attractive foliage, it’s best to keep them away from curious cats.

Philodendrons, including heartleaf and elephant ear varieties, can also be harmful to your cat’s health. Ingesting philodendron plants can lead to digestive problems and mouth irritation, and in severe cases, kidney failure.

Snake plants, ZZ plants, and rubber plants are other common houseplants that are toxic to cats. These plants contain toxins that can cause digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

To keep your cats safe, it’s crucial to research the toxicity of houseplants before bringing them into your home. Consider keeping plants out of reach or using barriers, and always seek veterinary attention immediately if you suspect your cat has ingested a poisonous plant.


To sum up, Calathea plants are not toxic to cats, but they can still pose a threat if ingested. The leaves of this plant contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, vomiting, drooling, and difficulty swallowing in feline companions. Although these symptoms are generally mild and not life-threatening, it’s essential to keep your pets away from these plants.

To ensure your cat’s safety without sacrificing the beauty of your indoor garden, consider placing your Calathea plants on high shelves or in rooms that your cat doesn’t frequent. You can also use deterrents like citrus sprays or aluminum foil to discourage curious kitties from nibbling on your plants.

Remember that even non-toxic plants can cause discomfort if consumed in large amounts. Therefore, it’s crucial to monitor your pet’s behavior around indoor plants and make sure they don’t consume excessive amounts of any plant material.

If you’re looking for safe and visually appealing alternatives to Calathea plants, consider spider plants, parlour palms, African violets or succulents such as echeveria or haworthia. These options will add a touch of greenery to your home while keeping your furry friends out of harm’s way.

In conclusion, with proper care and attention, you can enjoy the beauty of indoor gardening while keeping your beloved cats healthy and happy.