Are All Succulents Poisonous to Cats, or Just Some of Them?
Succulents are very popular houseplants—and for good reason. They're decorative, colorful, affordable, and best of all, easy to take care of. (What's not to love?)
You might be thinking these trendy, low-maintenance plants are perfect for pet parents like yourself, especially since you spend so much time pampering your best feline friend!
But before you fill your cart with a dozen succulents from your local home and garden store, the big question may be crossing your mind: Are succulents poisonous to cats?
To which experts say: it depends on the type.
Are Succulents Toxic to Cats If They Eat Them?
There are over 10,000 types of succulents ranging in size, color, and texture. And fortunately, most are considered safe for cats. However, there are a few to be cautious of, like poinsettias and jade plants.
If your cat happens to eat a toxic succulent, Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, and Senior Veterinarian Toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline says your cat will typically experience gastrointestinal upset, i.e. vomiting, anorexia, or diarrhea.
The one plant in particular that should be avoided? Aloe vera. "Aloe can cause more significant diarrhea if a larger amount is ingested," she says.
Signs of poisoning in cats may include:
Succulents can range in toxicity. The higher the toxicity, the more serious the side effects and necessary medical treatment is.
It's best to keep all succulents out of reach from your curious cat—no matter the toxicity—to prevent him from eating a plant and possibly feeling pain and discomfort.
"It is important to remember that 'non-toxic' does not mean 'no problem,'" says Laura Robinson, DVM and lead veterinary advisor to Pawp. "Some pets may develop mild stomach upset ingesting any type of plant since it is not part of their regular diet."
If you find your cat trying to eat your plants (toxic or not), consider getting some cat grass for her to safely munch on occasionally instead. Though if it keeps happening constantly, it may be worth a visit to the vet to rule out any health issues.
When it comes to which parts of the succulent you should be cautious of letting your cat get to, usually all parts of the plant are toxic in the poisonous kinds, she says.
Robinson recommends checking the ASPCA's list of non-toxic and toxic plants to see if a certain plant is safe to have around your pet. She stresses that it's important to make sure you're steering clear of potentially dangerous succulents both inside and outside your home.
Succulents That Are Poisonous to Cats
While not a comprehensive list, we've listed some common succulents harmful to cats and side effects to watch out for.
While aloe vera is beneficial to us humans—especially during the summertime—this wonder plant is toxic to your cat. The latex sap, which contains saponins and anthraquinones, can pose risks and result in diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.
Jade Plants (Crassula Ovata)
Jade plants are a cute, common houseplant you could expect to find in someone's home for good feng shui. However, they are toxic to cats and are not safe to keep around any pets. If ingested, they may cause vomiting, incoordination, and vomiting.
Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia Tirucalli)
The pencil cactus can irritate your cat's mouth and stomach due to its irritant sap. It may also cause your cat to vomit.
Silver Jade Plant
While aesthetically pleasing, the silver jade plant should be avoided if you have cats, or pets of any kind. Its toxic principles are unknown, but if eaten, your cat may experience vomiting, drunkenness, and even tremors, although rare.
Snake Plant (Mother in Law's Tongue)
A snake plant is a popular succulent that thrives indoors and outdoors. Toxic to cats and dogs, this plant has long, green and yellow leaves that contain saponins that can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting in cats.
String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus)
The string of pearls succulent is a unique but dangerous plant that is best to keep out of the home if you have cats and children, as it's toxic to pets and humans if ingested. Its sap may cause gastrointestinal upset and even skin and mouth irritation.
This festive plant instantly lights up a room with holiday cheer. However, it's best to keep poinsettias out of your cat's reach. While only considered mildly toxic due to its sap, some cats may experience mouth and stomach irritation, as well as vomiting, upon ingestion.
Which Succulents Are Safe for Cats?
These popular, cat-friendly succulents make great additions in your home and out in your yard.
Chinese Money Plant
Known as Pilea peperomioides, this is a popular succulent that's not just low maintenance but also safe to keep around your cats. (And dogs!)
Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum Sp.)
Another fun, easy succulent to grow indoors and outdoors, hens and chicks come in a variety of colors. Their scientific species name, "sempervivum," translates to "live forever." These are a safe option for cats, dogs, and even horses.
Variegated Wax Plant (Echeveria Sp.)
The variegated wax plant is not just cat-friendly, but it's also dog-friendly. If you have a multi-pet home, this gorgeous, green succulent is a safe bet.
This beautiful, blue succulent is as stunning as it is popular. Best of all? They're safe for all pets! If you're looking to add one of these plants to your home or garden, it may also be labeled as a maroon chenille plant, painted lady, copper rose, wax rosette, or plush plant.
Burro's tail, also known as horse's tail, donkey's tail, or lamb's tail, is safe to keep indoors around your cat. This green plant is a great choice to hang from a ceiling or wall, meaning it'll be totally out of reach and ultimately, a super safe option.
Ghost Plant (also known as Mother of Pearl)
Named after its pale, "ghostly" look, the ghost plant is one of the most popular succulents there is. It's easy to care for and is safe for all pets.
Hardy Baby Tears
Known for its itty bitty teardrop-shaped leaves, hardy baby tears (also known as sedum or stonecrop) are cat-friendly and dog-friendly.
This small, eye-catching succulent is sure to stand out among your plants! Also called the zebra plant, haworthia resembles aloe but is a safe option for all pets.
The Mexican firecracker is a stunning and distinct succulent that can brighten up your home or yard. No matter its location, you can rest assured that it's safe for your cat and other pets.
Add a pop of color to your plant collection with Mexican rosettes. This lovely green and red succulent is not just elegant but also completely safe for cats, dogs, and horses.
Mexican snowballs are one of the most popular Echeveria succulents. They make a great addition indoors or outdoors, are easy to grow, and are safe to keep around cats and dogs.
What To Do if Your Cat Eats a Poisonous Succulent Plant
Uh-oh! You walked in to find your cat nibbled on a toxic succulent. Now what?
Schmid recommends monitoring your cat for signs of stomach upset, and schedule a vet visit if your pet is not eating or persistent diarrhea or vomiting develops.
If your vet is unavailable, call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. You can also contact an online service like Pawp or Vetster to virtually speak with a vet in case of an emergency at any time, though fees may apply.