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Are Spider Plants Toxic to Cats?

Renee Whitmore
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by Renee Whitmore

Just the other day, we had a terrible thunderstorm out of the blue. Immediately, I thought about my poor potted flowering plants outside which would likely be destroyed. As the rain poured, I frantically ran out to my porch to retrieve my precious plants. I placed them in the living room, on the floor under a towel, and breathed a sigh of relief. Safe plants.

However, within a few minutes,  I noticed my curious feline, Libby, wandering around my plants. Intrigued, she began chewing on some of the leaves, and then the thought crossed my mind:

Can she eat my plants? Are any of them toxic to her? Quick, Siri, help me! I exclaimed. Siri then assured me that the plants I had brought inside were NOT toxic to Libby. I let her hang out with my plants for a while; after all, it kept her busy.

That brings me to the spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum), a common houseplant with long, thin, arched foliage that is often streaked with white. While Spider Plants can be grown outside, they don’t need much sunlight, making them an indoor plant choice for many people.

Cats are weirdly drawn to spider plants; seriously, they go crazy over the grassy-like leaves. Thankfully, the spider plant is not poisonous to cats;  however, that doesn’t mean to let your cat free reign over your spider plant, as it can cause some digestive issues for your cat if she won’t leave it alone.

Spider Plant

Fact: Cats Love Houseplants

It’s interesting to watch cats around plants. They are drawn to them for various reasons. Sometimes cats enjoy the smell of a plant.  Some plants give cats a sense of euphoria like catnip (Nepeta Cataria) and the spider plant. Other plants, like herbs, may give your cat a pleasant taste. Some cats who have an upset stomach will chew on foliage to help relieve discomfort. Still, others see houseplants as entertainment and amusement and like playing in them.

Spider Plants and Cats

The spider plant, also known as spider ivy, ribbon plant, airplane plant, St. Bernard’s lily, and interestingly enough, cat’s whiskers, is a common houseplant choice because it is easy to raise. Its leaves (which can grow up to 18 inches long!)  are usually dangling outside the flowerpot, and it does well in a hanging basket. It doesn’t give off any particular fragrance, so cats wouldn’t be drawn to this plant because of the odor. Its grassy leaves are fun to look at (and hide in if you’re a cat) and may be a reason why cats love this plant. Cats may see the spider plant as a source of entertainment.

However, the REAL reason why cats love this plant is it contains compounds related to opium, giving them a mild hallucinogenic effect. Similar to catnip, the spider plant produces chemicals to induce your cat’s intrigue and obsessive behavior.  The most it will do is make your cat wild and energetic (my Libby is naturally wild and energetic, especially at night, so she doesn’t need a spider plant.)

Are Spider Plants Safe for Cats?

According to the ASPCA and other educational websites, spider plants are not toxic to cats (or dogs.) However, because cats are drawn to spider plants for the chemical compounds, they may get an upset stomach if they eat the leaves. While spider plants are technically “safe” for cats, excess consumption can cause digestion issues, which means you may need to move your spider plant out of your cat’s reach.

How Do I Keep My Spider Plant Away From My Cat?

As we know, cats are notorious climbers; they love to climb on windowsills, tables, bookshelves, furniture, or anything climbable! You will need to be creative when figuring out how to keep your spider plant away from your cat. Here are some ideas:

  • Hang your plant in a hanging basket on a pillar if you have one in your home The higher, the better, obviously.
  • Buy a high plant stand that would be hard for your cat to climb and keep the spider plant on the top.
  • Keep the dangling leaves of the spider plant pruned so they won’t attract your cat as much.
  • Put the plant outside on your porch or patio.
  • Plant cat grass inside, to distract your cat from the spider plant. Simply plant the grass in a flowerpot!

Which Plants are Toxic to Cats?

Now, I am going to discuss some common plants that are toxic to cats. It’s important to know which ones to stay away from.

Lilies: A wide variety of Lily plants such as Asian, Japanese Show, Casa Blanca, Tiger, and Stargazer have been shown to cause kidney failure in cats.

Azaleas and Rhododendron: Azalea and Rhododendron leaves can cause oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, coma, and even death.

Tulips: Tulips contain toxins that can cause gastrointestinal problems, loss of appetite, and cardiac abnormalities.

Oleanders: The Oleander has a toxin that causes gastrointestinal infections, abnormal heart functions, hypothermia, and even death.

Cyclamen: These plants can lead to significant gastrointestinal issues and intense vomiting.

Aloe Vera: The Aloe Vera plant can cause vomiting, trembling, gastrointestinal issues, anorexia, and depression in cats.

The ASPCA features an exhaustive list of toxic and non-toxic plants for cats. It’s worth reading through.

Symptoms of potential plant toxicity to watch for in cats are drooling, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, fast, slow or irregular heartbeat, and excessive drinking and urinating. If you suspect your cat has gotten into a toxic plant, take him to the vet right away.


Cats are called “curious” for a reason. They love to explore pretty much anything, and they are known to love spider plants. For some, spider plants may be harmless; for others, it may result in vomiting and an upset stomach.

It’s best to keep your spider plant away from your cat and look for alternatives such as cat grass. HGTV published this article about seven plants to grow for cats. The mint plant is on their list, and that was one of my plants that I brought in from the torrential downpour the other day that my cat was crazy over!

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
  1. Any chance you’ve heard what this “compound related to opium” is? I can’t find a name for it anywhere. I’m starting to question the accuracy of this assertion (not picking on you, this “fact” is everywhere! You just have a simple way to actually contact you).

    1. Hi Lilu, great question and you are a curious one! 😉 I’m not an expert in chemical compounds and such, but since you asked, here are some things to note around this topic. First, regarding opium and poppies … “Papaver somniferum, opium poppy, is an addictive narcotic plant, the source of heroin (which has shaped human history) and very important medicinally, e.g., as the source of the analgesic morphine and other alkaloids.” Why this is relevant to your question is that the spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) is a Papaveraceae species plant. Thus, the relation, and reason you see this commonly quoted as “related to opium” the chemical compounds involved. Also, perhaps interesting for cats that may be drawn to the spider plant is that they contain steroid saponins, which act as antioxidants and generally boost health and vigor. I hope this was helpful. If you’d like some references to study more, here are a couple of sources here and here, and this one.

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