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Are Ferns Toxic To Cats? What You Need To Know

Many of us have ferns in our homes and gardens. Garfield, the fictional cat, was known to be a firm favorite of the fern, along with lasagna of course. But is this popular houseplant actually safe for feline consumption, or should it be placed behind closed doors or saved for the confines of a catless home? Ferns are not toxic for cats, although you should try to stop your four-legged friend from eating entire fern plants. Some fernlike plants are toxic, too, including some plants that have fern in the name, even though they aren’t true ferns.

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Are Ferns Toxic?

Cats are intelligent animals, but this doesn’t mean that they are completely risk averse. Sometimes they get a little too close to the neighbor’s dog. Other times, they look like they’re picking a fight with the larger and tougher cat from the house at the back. Tragedy can befall or furry friends, and one way that this can happen is from the eating of toxic ingredients and foods. You can’t rely on your cat to avoid all plants that are unsafe for them.

Fortunately, the fern is not toxic to cats. This doesn’t mean that they should regularly eat large amounts of the plant, but if they occasionally eat a fern leaf or two, no harm should befall them.

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Image Credit: Pixabay

Are They Safe For Cats To Eat?

Ferns are safe to have and grow around cats. If your cat eats a leaf or two, it won’t get ill. If it eats an entire fern, it may well cause an upset stomach, however.

Asparagus Ferns

It is worth mentioning the asparagus fern, at this point, because it is a popular houseplant. It is not a true fern, despite the name. The plant itself can be mildly toxic, and the berries could cause your cat to be quite ill. Eating this plant can lead to gastrointestinal upset including vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat comes into contact with this plant, it can lead to skin irritation.

If you believe your cat has indeed eaten any asparagus fern, you should seek veterinary assistance. They will be able to advise you of the best steps to take. Inducing vomiting is not always the right step.

Fernlike Plants

The asparagus fern, also known as lace fern, is just one example of a range of popular houseplants that contain the word fern but that are not actual ferns. Many of these plants can be poisonous, or toxic, to your cat. The winter fern is another example, and if your cat has eaten this plant, you should seek immediate help.

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What Plants Are Dangerous For Cats?

Some very common houseplants are toxic for cats and are best avoided if you have inquisitive cats that chew on items around the house. Some of the most common toxic household plants include:

  • Peace Lilies – Peace lilies are especially popular around Easter time. They have appealing white flowers and are considered low maintenance plants. However, they contain calcium oxalates, which can cause vomiting and a host of other problems for your cat.
  • Aloe Vera – Aloe vera is a popular houseplant, not least because of the health benefits it offers to people. However, the plant does not herald the same benefits for cats and can be toxic if ingested.
  • Money Plants – The money plant, or crassula, is a succulent plant and easy to grow. As with most succulents, you don’t have to worry about watering them too often. Also known as jade plants, these are toxic to dogs, cats, and even horses.
  • Snake Plants – Snake plants grow very well in low light conditions, which makes them perfect for hallways and other areas in the house where there is no natural light. However, the saponins they contain can cause vomiting and other problems if consumed by cats or dogs.
  • Sago Palm – The sago palm is a popular addition to homes because it can improve indoor air quality. However, it contains cycasin, which is toxic to cats. It can even lead to liver failure and death, so should be avoided completely, if possible.
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Image Credit: Pixabay

What Plants Are Safe For Cats?

Not all plants are toxic for cats, however, and there is a good selection of decorative flowers and attractive plants that you can safely grow at home, as well as the fern.

  • African Violet – The African violet blooms in low light and enjoys reasonable temperatures and humidity. The violet will usually fare well in a household environment and is safe to grow even when you have cats that are prone to pruning plants when peckish.
  • Banana Plant – With its giant leaves, the banana plant or weeping fig can be a bit more challenging to grow, requiring good soil, bright light, and regular watering, but at least it won’t poison your cat if he chooses to chew it.
  • Spider Plant – The spider plant is another common houseplant that is perfectly safe for cats to eat, although if your cat strips the end of leaves, it can start to look bedraggled and worn.
  • Venus Flytraps – Carnivorous plants are intriguing and unique. The Venus flytrap is the best known and will close around and digest flies and spiders, but it won’t attempt to digest or otherwise harm your cat.
  • Boston Fern – Not all plants with fern in the name are dangerous for cats. The Boston fern, for example, has the kind of fronds that will tempt most cats to try chewing them. Not to worry if your cat succumbs to this temptation, though, as the Boston fern is safe for cat consumption.

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Are Ferns Toxic To Cats?

Ferns are safe for cats to eat, hence why Garfield was such a fan. However, other houseplants and some plants with fern in the name can be highly toxic for your cat and may make him ill or even cause death. Above, we have listed five plants that are safe to keep with cats, as well as five that should not be kept with feline residents.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay