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Are Orchids Toxic to Cats? What You Need to Know

Some houseplants can be poisonous to cats. If you want to have a house full of greenery but also have cats, then it’s important to know which plants are safe and which are poisonous. If you love orchids, it makes sense to check if you can own these beautiful plants while also keeping your cat safe.

The good news is that most species of orchids that we can keep in our houses are completely safe for cats. Even if your cat nibbles a leaf or flower, they shouldn’t suffer any ill effects.

Let’s find out a little more about keeping orchids and cats in the same place.

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Why does my cat eat houseplants?

cat and orchid
Image Credit: Pixabay

Even though cats are obligate carnivores, with digestive systems designed to consume meat, some cats do enjoy nibbling on greenery.

This can add a little bit of fiber to their digestive system, which mimics the fiber that a cat in the wild would obtain by eating the grass-filled intestines of their prey. Grass also contains nutrients including folic acid, so cats may eat it when they feel like they need a boost. Another reason cats eat grass is that some simply enjoy the texture and taste!

While most cats will choose grass, if your cat lives indoors and doesn’t have access to green grass outdoors, they’ll look for the next best option. That means you might see your cat taking a nibble of a houseplant leaf, whether that’s an orchid or something else.

Most orchids are safe for cats

Orchids grown as houseplants are from the following species:

  • Phalaenopsis species — moth orchid, moon orchid
  • Cattleya species — corsage orchid, queen of orchids
  • Epidendrum — crucifix orchid, reedstem orchid
  • Oncidium species — dancing lady orchid, golden shower orchid
  • Paphiopedilum species — venus slipper orchid, tropical lady’s slipper orchid

 These are all non-toxic to cats, and even if they nibble a corner of a leaf, your cat shouldn’t suffer any ill effects.

The ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants is a great place to check any other houseplants that you may have.

pink orchids
Image Credit: Pixabay

What about orchid fertilizers?

Any fertilizer applied to your orchids to help boost growth does have the potential to cause harm to your cat. Fertilizers can be toxic, so only ever apply fertilizer to the roots of your orchids, rather than spraying them over the leaves and flowers. You might choose to use a natural alternative that isn’t toxic or avoid the use of any fertilizers at all.

What if my cat ingests fertilizer?

If you think that your cat has come into contact with fertilizers for orchids or any other plant, you should seek immediate veterinary help.

Fertilizers tend to contain a blend of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. They sometimes also contain zinc, copper, molybdenum, and cobalt, all of which can be toxic depending on the concentration.

Symptoms of fertilizer poisoning include:
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

If possible, bring along the bottle or packet of fertilizer that you think that your cat has ingested. This may help your vet decide on the best course of treatment.

orchid garden
Image Credit: Pixabay

How can I stop my cat from eating orchids?

If your cat is regularly chomping on the leaves of your orchids, it’s a good sign that they’d like to have some greenery in their diet.

As an alternative, especially if your cat lives indoors, you can start to grow cat grass. A small tray of fresh grass will give your cat something green to eat that isn’t your orchid leaves!

If your house is large enough, you can also choose to keep your orchids in areas where your cat doesn’t tend to spend time. Or, dedicate a particular zone as a cat-free area, and keep your orchids here instead.

Which orchids are poisonous to cats?

While most orchids grown as houseplants aren’t poisonous to your cat, one species of wild orchid, the Cypripedium species, or Lady Slipper Orchid, can potentially cause them harm. These are usually found growing wild, but you can order this species as a garden plant.

It’s probably best to avoid this variety of orchid. While the level of toxicity for cats hasn’t been determined, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Orchids and cats

Orchids grown as houseplants aren’t toxic to cats, and you should be able to keep them in your home without worrying about your cat. Even if your kitty chews a bit of the leaves or flowers, they shouldn’t suffer any ill effects.

If your indoor cat has taken a liking to eating your houseplants, offer them freshly grown cat grass instead. This can help satisfy their craving for greenery without leaving bite marks on your plants!


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay