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4 Plants To Grow For Your Cat (And 4 To Avoid)

Spring will be here soon and the gardening catalogs are already arriving in the mail.  If you are a gardener and have cats that spend time with you outdoors, you should know that the list of flowers and plants that are toxic to cats is long.  Here are four that are safe for your cat to eat, and four to avoid.  You can see the full list of toxic plants at the ASPCA website.


  • Catnip: A member of the mint family, catnip is an easy to grow perennial.  Your cat can sniff or eat this herb either fresh or dried.  The oils in catnip have a euphoric effect on cats, but is not dangerous or addictive.  Catnip is also a great mosquito repellant!
  • Cat Thyme: Despite it’s name, cat thyme is not a thyme.  It is a mounding tender perennial that has a similar effect to catnip.  If you have a sensitive nose, cat thyme has a distinct musty odor that some people find unpleasant.
  • Licorice Root: The licorice plant has long been used in Chinese medicine as an anti inflammatory  to soothe allergies and settle digestive issues.  Licorice is a herbaceous perennial.
  • Goldenseal: A perennial herb from the buttercup family, goldenseal can be used as a natural wound disinfectant and is safe for cats to eat.


  • All lilies: The lily family is large, and even the benign varieties (Peace, Calla, Peruvian) can cause drooling and mouth irritation.  Other species, such as the Tiger lily, the Easter lily and stargazer lilies, are much more dangerous, causing severe acute kidney failure.
  • Amaryllis: Technically a member of the lily family, the amaryllis plant has toxins that can cause vomiting, low blood pressure and respiratory depression.
  • Azalea/Rhododendron: The azalea is a commonly found plant because of the bright showy color it displays in the spring.  Eating azaleas or other species of rhododendron causes drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, abnormal heart rate, and seizures.
  • Foxglove: This plant has beautiful trumpet shaped flowers but it also very poisonous to cats.  The toxins in foxglove are similar to digitalis, a common heart medicine.  Ingestion can cause high potassium levels, seizures and abnormal heart rate and rhythm.
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