Is Cat Palm Safe for Cats?

cat peaking out from cat palm plant
cat peaking out from cat palm plant

New Africa / Getty

If there's one thing millennials and Gen Z-ers can agree on, it's that we love our houseplants almost as much as our pets. And whether you were a plant parent or pet parent first, we just want everyone to get along. But when your favorite feline can't resist a nibble here and there, it's time to fill your space with cat-friendly plants. If you swoon over tropical palms and cats, you might wonder, are cat palms safe for cats?

RELATED: 16 Houseplants to Avoid if You Have Cats

Is Cat Palm Safe for Cats?

When you're looking to add pet-safe greenery to your abode, a cat palm (or two) might be the plant baby for you, says Tina Wismer, DVM, MS, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian and senior director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Cat palms (Chamaedorea cataractarum) aren't toxic to cats. But like everything your cat finds delicious, eating too much cat palm could cause gastrointestinal upset like vomiting or diarrhea. In rare cases of overindulgence, indigestible materials like greenery could cause an obstruction in your cat's GI tract. "If there is continued vomiting or lack of appetite or lethargy, the cat should see the vet," Wismer says.

example of what cat palm looks like
example of what cat palm looks like

Vipul1989 / Shutterstock Cat palms (Chamaedorea cataractarum) are not toxic to cats.

While this lovely palm isn't toxic to cats, the chemicals in fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides can be harmful to them. Reach for pet-friendly products to keep your plant baby and fur baby feeling and looking their best.

RELATED: Are Succulents Poisonous to Cats? Experts Share Which Are Safe and Which to Avoid

Are All Palms Safe for Cats?

Technically, Wismer says, all true palms are safe for cats. But a group of palm lookalikes could wreak havoc. The cycad palm group (Cycas and Zamia species) are actually evergreens and are unrelated to cat-friendly palms. If eaten by cats, these plants can cause liver failure and even death.

Cycad Palms

The toxic cycad palm group has palm-like fronds that radiate outward from a single, slow-growing trunk. Unlike the cat palm, the cycad palms have stiff greeneries that "feel thick like cardboard," Wismer says. In comparison, the fronds of the cat palm are described as "fluffy." The palms within the cycad group go by a variety of common names including cycad, sago, cardboard, and fern palm.

Signs and Symptoms of Cycad Palm Poisoning in Cats

All parts of cycad palms are toxic to cats, as they're laced with cycasin, B-methylamino-l-alanine, and an unidentified neurotoxin. Eating just one or two seeds can be fatal. According to the ASPCA, signs of poisoning from a palm in the cycad group include:

  • Vomiting, sometimes bloody

  • Dark stool

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the lips, eyes, and gums)

  • Excessive thirst

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • Bruising

  • Liver damage

  • Liver failure

Without treatment, death from cycad palm ingestion can occur within a few hours to a few days. So, the sooner your cat gets medical care, the better.

Experts like Wismer are standing by at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435) or Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) and can help determine if your cat was exposed to a toxic amount of the plant and if a veterinary examination is needed. When necessary, the board-certified veterinarians will also consult with your veterinarian to advise what treatments your cat needs.

RELATED: Cat Poisoning: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Other Cat-Safe House Plants

If you can't settle with just one type of cat-friendly house plant, Wismer says there's plenty more for you to choose from: Spider plants; African violets; Areca palms; Calathea species; Haworthia species; Echeveria species; Gloxinia; Boston ferns; and orchids.

Remember, even if plants are non-toxic to cats, a few too many bites of anything can cause digestive upset. If your cat insists on munching on your indoor oasis, your plants will appreciate being placed outside of your cat's reach. Or, spoil your favorite feline with cat grass just for her and an enriching toy to capture her attention.