Can Cats Eat Spider Plants?

Spider plants are a popular and attractive houseplant found in many homes and apartments. With their long, green leaves and fast growth, they add lively greenery to both outdoor and indoor spaces.

However, spider plants may spell trouble for curious cats. Felines are attracted to the thin, arched foliage that sways enticingly within paw’s reach. To a cat, the leaves seem like a toy waiting to be batted and chewed.

This leaves many cat owners asking: Can cats eat spider plants safely or should they be kept far away from these tempting houseplants?

The good news is spider plants are one of the least toxic options for cats compared to other common houseplants. But there are still risks with cats ingesting parts of the spider plant.

In this complete guide for cat parents, we will cover everything you need to know about cats and spider plants. You’ll learn:

  • Are spider plants poisonous to cats?
  • What happens if a cat eats a spider plant?
  • How to keep cats away from spider plants
  • Safe alternatives to spider plants for cats
  • And much more to keep both your beloved cat and houseplants happy and healthy!

Are Spider Plants Toxic or Poisonous to Cats?

The ASPCA classifies spider plants as non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. The plant’s scientific name is Chlorophytum comosum.

Both the leaves and stems of spider plants contain compounds called saponins. These chemicals give the plant a bitter, soapy taste that deters most pets from consuming large amounts.

So pure spider plants will not cause fatal toxicity or poisoning in cats as they ingest small bite-sized pieces. Extreme poisoning typically only occurs if a cat eats multiple leaves or large quantities of the plant.

However, be aware that the spider plant’s sap may still cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Abdominal pain

Usually these symptoms are mild to moderate if cats ingest a minimal amount. Your cat most likely will eat a tiny portion then leave the spider plant alone once they taste the unpleasant bitterness.

Monitor your cat closely for any concerning symptoms from chewing on spider plants. Call your veterinarian if you have worries or if symptoms last more than 24 hours.

What Happens When Cats Eat Spider Plants?

Spider plants themselves pose minimal danger to cats who take an experimental nibble or two. But what exactly happens when a curious cat takes a bite?

The main concern is the saponins found in the leaves, stems, and roots. Saponins produce the spider plant’s bitter, soapy flavor that deters insects, pets, and other predators from consuming the plant.

For cats, ingesting these saponins may irritate the tissues of the mouth and stomach. The irritation occurs because saponins are detergents that can dissolve protective mucous membranes.

In small amounts, saponins cause temporary nausea or stomach upset. The cat may drool, vomit, or have diarrhea after tasting spider plant leaves.

These effects are temporary and tend to resolve within a day. So most cats suffer no lasting harm from an encounter with a spider plant.

In very rare cases, a determined cat may eat a large amount of leaves. Consuming excessive saponins can cause inflammation in the stomach and intestinal lining.

Signs of significant toxicity include:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Severe diarrhea with blood
  • Dehydration
  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors

If a high amount was ingested, take the cat to the emergency vet right away. With aggressive treatment, the prognosis is positive in most scenarios.

How Much is Toxic?

Exactly how much needs to be ingested to make a cat sick? There are no definitive thresholds established.

As a general rule, a toxic dose seems to be over 2-3 leaves consumed at once. Again, this amount varies based on the cat’s size and sensitivity.

Kittens, elderly cats, and those with underlying health issues are most at risk for adverse effects. Healthy adult cats can typically tolerate small tastes of spider plant leaves.

Observe your cat closely after any spider plant exposure. Look for:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Poor coordination

Take the cat to the vet if any worrying symptoms develop or last over 12 hours. With prompt care, full recovery is very likely.

How to Keep Cats Away from Spider Plants

Prevention is the best way to avoid any spider plant-related upset stomachs. Here are tips to protect both your cats and plants:

Put Spider Plants Out of Reach

Cats are less likely to bother spider plants if they remain out of sight and out of reach. Possible solutions include:

  • Place spider plants on high shelves.
  • Hang spider plants from ceilings, patios, or porches using hanging pots.
  • Keep spider plants in rooms with doors that close off access from cats.
  • Use floating shelves to display spider plants above cat height.
  • Set spider plants outside during warm weather so they stay outdoors.

Use Bitter Deterrents on the Leaves

You can make spider plant leaves even more unappealing by coating them with bitter-tasting substances. Natural options include:

  • Lemon or orange juice – wipe over leaves
  • Vinegar – dilute with water and spray leaves
  • Citrus peels – rub peel directly onto leaves

Reapply these frequently, since the bitter residue doesn’t last long on the leaves. The strong sour citrus smells also help deter curious cats.

Try Physical Barriers

Place obstacles around or over the spider plants to hinder cats. Ideas include:

  • Chicken wire – wrap around the pot and plant
  • Aluminum foil – cover soil surface
  • Large rocks – place rocks around pot perimeter
  • Plastic forks – poke fork tines into soil pointing up
  • Double-sided tape – apply around pot edges

The textures bother cats when they try to dig around or step on them. Replace tape as needed.

Give Cats Alternative Plants to Chew On

Offer cat-safe greens for cats to munch, so they ignore the spider plants. Provide:

  • Wheatgrass
  • Oat grass
  • Catnip
  • Pet grass

These give cats an approved outlet for their chewing and grass-eating instincts. Place them in areas where your cat spends time.

Use Aversive Scents

Rub or spray natural scents with strong smells on spider plant pots to deter cats. Effective options include:

  • Citrus oils
  • Lavender oil
  • Peppermint or spearmint oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Citronella oil

Check that the oils are food-grade and cat-safe. Refresh applications regularly as the smell fades.

Apply Motion-Activated Deterrents

When cats get near spider plants, these devices activate sounds, smells, or motions to startle them away:

  • Ssscat deterrent – blasts air at cats
  • Ultrasonic repellers – emit high-frequency sounds
  • Scatter cans – makes loud noises when touched
  • Motion-activated lights or sprinklers

Look for humane cat deterrents and use as directed. They work best when combined with other methods.

Spider Plant Alternatives for Cat Owners

If your curious cat refuses to leave spider plants alone, the safest solution may be avoiding them entirely. Here are some great non-toxic alternatives to grow:

Cat-Safe Houseplants

Many houseplants are harmless for cats to chew or ingest. Cat-safe options include:

  • Pothos
  • Ponytail palm
  • Prayer plant
  • Christmas cactus
  • Boston fern
  • Phalaenopsis orchids
  • Peperomia
  • Air plants

Check specific varieties are non-toxic, as some plants have toxic lookalikes. Keep these out of reach of cats who may knock potted plants over.

Pet-Friendly Outdoor Plants

When gardening outside, choose plants that are not poisonous to cats. Good choices include:

  • Marigolds
  • Roses
  • Lavender
  • Petunias
  • Sunflowers
  • Pansies
  • Zinnias
  • Snapdragon
  • Calendulas

Research before planting and do not use pesticides or fertilizers. Grow in raised garden beds or out of reach of cats.

Cat Grasses

Provide safe, edible grasses for your cat. These give them an approved alternative to houseplants. Types to try:

  • Wheatgrass – easy to grow at home
  • Catnip – minty and enticing
  • Oat grass
  • Rye grass
  • Birdseed grass

Grow them in pots and offer fresh blades frequently, since cats may graze heavily. Cut tops regularly to encourage regrowth.

Cat Herb Gardens

In addition to grasses, cats enjoy nibbling on fresh “cat herbs”. Options include:

  • Catnip
  • Cat thyme
  • Catmint
  • Valerian
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm

Grow a mini herb garden with these tempting plants. Use pots on sunny windowsills out of reach of cats until you harvest cuttings for them to enjoy.

What to Do if Your Cat Eats Spider Plant Leaves

If your cat manages to grab a few bites of a spider plant before you intervene, take the following steps:

  • Calmly remove your cat from the area to prevent further ingestion.
  • Check your cat’s mouth for any remaining pieces. Wipe out their mouth and offer water to dilute any lingering saponins.
  • Monitor for nausea, vomiting, excess drooling, or diarrhea in the next 12-24 hours.
  • Call your vet if concerning symptoms develop or persist beyond 24 hours.
  • Take an emergency trip to the vet if you notice dilated pupils, difficulty walking, repeated vomiting or diarrhea, or other signs of major toxicity.
  • Avoid giving any medications to your cat without speaking to your vet first.

With prompt vet care as needed, your cat has excellent chances of making a full recovery after eating a small amount of spider plant.

In the future, take steps to prevent access to spider plants. And consider switching to safer non-toxic alternatives to avoid similar issues.

Spider Plant Safety: FAQs for Cat Owners

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about spider plants and cats:

Are all spider plant varieties safe for cats?

Yes, all varieties and cultivars of the traditional spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) are non-toxic and pet-safe. Examples include variegated varieties like Vittatum and Bonnie.

Other plants named “spider” plants that are toxic include:

  • Spider lily (Hymenocallis)
  • Spider ivy (Chlorophytum bichenovianum)

So verify you have a true traditional spider plant, not a similarly named toxic plant.

Can kittens safely eat spider plants?

Kittens and cats have the same risk from spider plants. However, kittens may be more tempted to chew and ingest pieces. And as smaller animals, they will experience more adverse effects relative to their size.

So keep spider plants completely away from kittens. Opt for kittens’ grasses or cat-friendly houseplants instead.

What if my cat eats the roots or berries?

Ingesting the roots or berries of a spider plant carries the same risks. The roots contain saponins, so cause similar stomach upset.

And the berries contain oxalates. Large amounts may cause signs of toxicity including drooling, vomiting, or bloody diarrhea.

As with the leaves, small taste-test portions of roots or berries are unlikely to be severely toxic. But do call your vet as a precaution after any part is eaten.

Can I grow spider plants with cats safely?

It is possible to keep spider plants in a home with cats. But precautions must be taken to avoid chance of ingestion.

Keep spider plants completely enclosed or out of reach, placed high up or in rooms with closed doors. Deter cats with unpleasant textures and strong citrus scents around pots.

Provide plenty of cat plants like wheatgrass for them to chew instead. Monitor cats closely and remove plants immediately if any interest is shown.

What’s the treatment if a cat eats spider plant leaves?

Treatment depends on the amount eaten and symptoms shown. Your vet may recommend:

  • Inducing vomiting if very recent ingestion
  • Activated charcoal to absorb toxins
  • IV fluids for dehydration
  • Anti-nausea medications
  • GI protectants and coatings
  • Electrolyte supplementation
  • Supportive care

With treatment, most cats fully recover within 24-48 hours after eating small amounts of spider plant leaves, berries, or roots.


Spider plants are a relatively safe houseplant when it comes to pet safety. But kitties still run the risk of some stomach upset from chewing or eating the leaves and stems.

Take precautions to keep curious cats away from tempting spider plants through strategic placement and deterrents.

Monitor for any signs of drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea after exposure to spider plant parts. Seek prompt veterinary care for any concerning or persistent symptoms.

Stick to safer alternatives like cat grasses, catnip, pet-friendly outdoor plants, and non-toxic houseplants for worry-free enjoyment by both you and your cats!