Cat Behavior | Why Does my Cat Eat Plants?

By January 28, 2020No Comments

Having a home full of beautiful, green plants is a dream for many. But if you bring a cat into the mix, it can usually spell disaster. Especially if your kitty is a leaf nibbler. But what sparks this odd cat behavior, and what can you do about it?

Why They Do It

Although most think cats are mainly carnivores, many are fond of vegetables and other plant material in their diet. While cats have their own likes and dislikes, most will try a little grass or take a nibble off some leaves of a house plant.

If you notice your cat eating plants right before they vomit, you aren’t the only one. Though the reasons why cats do that is unclear (is any cat behavior clear though?), it has been suggested that they eat plants to stimulate vomiting. But if vomiting doesn’t follow plant-eating, it might just be your kitty simply likes the taste!

Another reason for eating plants, if your cat is solely an indoor cat, is that they’re bored. Sometimes the leaves of a plant flutter, catching your kitty’s eye and drawing them into munch!

Can It Hurt Them?

Unfortunately, yes. Some plants are quite poisonous to cats, and can even cause particular damage. For example, lilies are known to cause kidney failure. While the toxicity of plants can range from mild to severe, it’s better to not have any of these specific plants in your home:

  • Arrowhead Fern
  • Cactus
  • Caladium
  • Christmas Trees
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Creeping Fig
  • Daffodil
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Lily
  • Marijuana
  • Philodendron
  • Tomato leaves

If you have any of these in your home, it’s best to remove them and gift them to someone without a cat. Other plants, though, are completely safe and won’t harm them! Here’s a list of some kitty-approved plants:

  • African violet
  • Areca palm
  • Bamboo
  • Boston fern
  • Calathea
  • Camelia
  • Cornflower
  • Mosaic Plant
  • Orchid
  • Ponytail palm
  • Prayer plant
  • Spider plant

How to Stop the Nibbling

Even if you have non-toxic plants that are safe for your cat, having them take bites out of leaves isn’t what you want. So how do you curb this odd cat behavior?

One way is to use a non-toxic substance on the leaves to repel your kitty away. Bitter apple is an odor that your cat will hate, but you won’t notice. Another option is to rub diluted vinegar on the plants. Both bitter apple and vinegar won’t harm your plants and will keep kitty at bay! But don’t forget to reapply the solutions, because they can wear off quickly.

Another solution is to make a loud sound to startle your cat when they’re about to start munching on a plant. Clap, or say “no” in your “bad-kitty” voice to startle them. Once you’ve gotten their attention, if they don’t stop eating on their own, then carry them away and place them in front of something that will distract them, like a scratching post.

Keeping your cat stimulated will also help to curb boredom so they won’t nibble on your plants. Make sure they’re getting enough playtime each day, they have scratch posts and perches to climb, set up hiding places and hide treats in random spots around the house. These will help to exercise your kitty’s mind and avoid any boredom!


Hopefully, these tips help keep your kitty and your plants safe! Don’t forget to show some love and thanks to your local animal shelter or our favorite, PAWS Chicago! Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram for your daily dose of furry cuteness.

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