Is a Calathea Toxic to Cats? Tips For Pet Safety Around Houseplants

Owning plants while having house pets around can be a difficult situation, I understand. Especially if you don’t know whether these houseplants are toxic or not. For example, “is a calathea toxic to cats or other pets” is a common question for new houseplant parents to ask.

The good news is that the Calathea isn’t toxic to cats, dogs, or other house pets. On average, there are over 200 Calathea species, all of which are nontoxic to animals. So, there’s no need to worry.

Having said that, you might be wondering as to why Calatheas aren’t toxic to cats, and how your feline friend can peacefully hang around your Calathea plants. Well, we’re here to answer all these questions for you.

Are Calatheas Cat-Safe?

As stated above, any Calathea plant you currently own or are thinking of getting is going to be cat-friendly. So, as a cat owner, you have nothing to worry about.

Is a Calathea Toxic to Cats? Beautiful short hair cat playing with plants at the garden on a sunny day at home.

Even if you have a curious cat that likes to explore and feed on foreign objects, all of the Calathea is non-toxic. Its stems and leaves are safe for any cat to play with or munch on–within reason, of course.

Why Are Calatheas Nontoxic to Cats?

Calatheas are unharmful because they don’t secrete any toxic chemical substances. For example, calcium oxalates. This substance is normally found in the stems and leaves of houseplants and can be very deadly to cats.

These feline creatures are usually up to no good either. Because of their curiosity and grooming habits, they spread a plant’s pollen over their body. Also, they often drink from the soil’s water which is harmful too.

When it comes to Calatheas however, the plant never sits in water so you don’t have to worry about that. You also shouldn’t fuss about your cat touching itself after touching a Calathea since the houseplant carries no harmful toxins.

How to Keep Your Cat Away From Your Calathea

Even though Calatheas are absolutely harmless to cats, if your pet munches on it too long, this may lead to digestive problems. As a cat owner myself, I doubt you want your cat to have an upset tummy.

So, what to do? We’ve gathered these tips so you can trick your cat into avoiding not only your Calathea but any other houseplant:

1. Spraying Water

You must know by now that cats despise water. This is why this method is probably the most efficient one. So, here’s what you should do:

Fill a spray bottle with water and spritz your cat with it whenever it comes near your plant. Sooner or later, the cat will realize the correlation between both, and stop visiting your plant

As efficient as this method is, it requires a constant eye on your cat’s whereabouts, which might not be ideal for some.

2. Creating Noise

Let us explain. If your cat hears rattling sounds whenever it comes near your Calathea, it’d soon find it unpleasant and stay away from it. Here’s how to easily achieve that:

Shake a children’s toy or place speakers near your plant. Loud noises and music will startle your cat and soon it’ll hate playing with your Calathea

This method would also require you to be around your cat all the time.

3. Spraying Homemade Repellent

Similar to spritzing a cat with water, you can try adding some scents to your water spray bottle. Of course, you’ll need to pick scents that’ll repel your cat. Here’s what to do:

  • Add one of the following to 16 oz of water: lavender oil, citrus oil, or crushed garlic. Mist this around your Calathea to steer your cat away. And don’t worry, it won’t harm your plant’s growth 
  • You can also add to the water a substance that’ll make your cat sneeze. You can either add a few chili flakes or a couple of ounces of a cleaning agent or a perfume

Note also that we say homemade, because if you buy a ready-made repellent, it may contain toxic substances that’ll harm your cat. So, they’re better avoided.

A gray striped domestic cat sits on a window next to indoor plants in white pots.

4. Leaving Peels of Citrus Fruit

As we’ve already established, cats can be pretty sensitive to citrusy smells. That’s because the pungent smell repels them. So, after a few times of doing the following, you’re sure to see effective results:

Peel the skin off a lemon, lime, grapefruit, or orange, then place it on the plant’s soil. The smell and taste will ward off your cats. As an added plus, you’ll have a natural, indoor, air freshener

This isn’t the most visually appealing method, but it’s effective. Make sure also to change the peels once they dry up.

5. Place Down Double-Faced Tape

If you noticed how your cat reaches your Calathea in the first place, you’ll note that they use the pot as a prop. So here’s what to do to stop them:

Line the pot with double-face tape. This’ll create a sticky situation that your cat will absolutely hate. They’d do this a couple of times before giving up

This too is a method that might decrease your plant’s appeal. On the bright side, however, this is the quickest and less painful way to train your cat.

6. Fill Your Soil With Pebbles

Your pet cat not only likes to feed on houseplants, but it also likes to dig around in the soil and treat it like a litter box. Unfortunately, this could harm your plant since a cat’s urine is highly toxic. So, here’s what you can do to avoid that:

Pack the soil with rocks, pebbles, and pinecones. Make sure that they’re not too close to one another so as to allow water to reach the soil. This method makes it hard for your cat to dig up the soil and will soon stay away

We recommend you do this if you want an added appeal to your houseplant. You can also use shattered pottery or decorative glass. Just check that the edges aren’t sharp so as not to harm yourself or your cat.

7. Place It Far From Their Reach

It may seem obvious, but you should consider strategically placing your Calathea so that it’s hard for your cat to reach. And since cats have proven to be ninjas in disguise, here’s how to work around that:

  • Install hanging baskets to store your Calathea in. Make sure also that these baskets aren’t around any furniture or props your cat can use to reach your plants
  • Put up plant containers that you can screw into your wall without shelves. If you place it high enough, your cat will be unable to reach it. And with no shelf, they also have nothing to lean on

Granted, this method requires both money and manual labor, but if you’re up for it, you should be fine. Plus, both options are very decorative.

8. Gift Your Cat Its Own Plant

Assuming your cat is as much a green lover as you are, why would you deny it that love? Instead, give its own plants that s/he can munch on and play with till their heart’s content. Here’s what you can get your cat:

  • A mint plant, thyme, barley, or cat grass. These plants are cat-safe and easy on your cat’s stomach
  • You can also get a cat grass kit from your local pet store. These kits come with plant seeds that are easy to grow and safe for your cat to feed on

If you go for this method, remember to place your cat’s plants somewhere near its bed or feeding area. This way, it’ll know these plants are for him/her to play with freely.

Also, avoid catnip if at all possible. We’ve all heard the stories, catnip is essentially a cat drug that your pet never asked for. Double-check what you’re getting before making a purchase.

Toxic Plants That Look Similar to the Calathea

If you don’t know your plants that well, this section is for you. Before you go and purchase a Calathea plant, make sure that you’re not confusing it for one of the following plants:

1. The Petra or Corton Plant

The Corton plant is known for its wild orange, yellow, and red vibrant colors. Plus, it has huge leaves. These reasons are why it’s often confused for a Calathea variety.

Unlike the Calathea, the Corton is highly toxic for your cat. That’s because munching on the plant’s leaves will cause a burning sensation in your cat’s stomach and throat.

2. The Dieffenbachia Tropic Snow or Green Magic

The Dieffenbachia goes by many names and is known for its large, green leaves that resemble that of a Calathea. But again, they’re not cat-friendly at all. Feeding on this plant will cause oral and chest pain in your cat. This’ll accelerate the difficulty in breathing and swallowing.

Curious two cats on the work table with computer orchid flowers and monstera greenhouse plant on white desk,work from home concept

Wrapping Up

Calatheas aren’t toxic to cats. All Calathea species are safe for cats to play with and feed on. The only inconvenience this causes is that their playing will ruin the shape and look of your plant.

That being said, there are many things you can do to keep your cat away from your Calathea. It’s also important to double-check the plant you’re getting because confusion may happen and the consequences aren’t pretty.