Houseplants and cats can be a dangerous mix! From signs at our veterinary office to warnings posted on the internet, information about the toxicity of houseplants is readily available for all cat owners.
Despite the warnings, however, the truth is that the vast majority of houseplants are safe for cats. While it’s never a good idea to let our cats excessively nibble on our grass or houseplants (even if only because it might kill the plants), many plants are not toxic to cats and won’t cause any permanent damage.
Orchids are an extremely popular houseplant due to the fact that they are beautiful and relatively easy to care for.
Now that they’ve become less expensive and even more convenient to take care of, people all over the world are adding orchids to their home décor. But are orchids safe for cats? Can cats eat orchids?
In this article we’ll cover the following:
- Cats and Orchids: What You Need to Know
- Can Cats Eat Orchids?
- Can Kittens Eat Orchids?
- Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Orchids
- Alternatives to Orchids for Cats
Cats and Orchids: What You Need to Know
Phalaenopsis Orchids, more commonly known simply as “orchids,” are native to the tropical regions of Asia and Australia. Despite the geography of their origins, orchids are extremely popular and can be found decorating homes and gracing bouquets all over the world.
Known and well-loved for their beauty, there are records of human beings cultivating orchids that date back to Ancient Greece.
While they are mostly grown to be decorative, there are some recipes that call for orchids, particularly cocktail recipes (in which the orchids are used as decoration as well as for their floral flavor).
When it comes to cats, though, the edibility of orchids becomes even more complicated and decidedly less alcoholic (remember: alcohol is extremely toxic for cats!).
Because poisoning due to ingesting houseplants is such a common cause of emergency vet visits, illness, and even death, the ASPCA has compiled a very handy list of plants that are toxic to cats.
While we are right to be cautious when it comes to mixing houseplants and cats, orchids are relatively innocuous and are not toxic to our feline friends.
Can Cats Eat Orchids?
Orchids are not toxic to cats, so you don’t have to panic if you catch your cat illicitly nibbling your orchid plant.
That being said, orchids also don’t have any nutritional benefit for cats and can cause digestive upset (including vomiting and diarrhea) if your cat ingests too much of them. This has nothing to do with orchids being toxic. It’s simply a matter of the cat ingesting something that they really aren’t meant to.
If you see your cat chewing on your orchid, there are a couple ways you can discourage this behavior and save your poor plant:
- Spray the entire orchid, including the soil, with lemon or orange oil. The vast majority of cats hate the smell of citrus and will stay far away from the plant if they smell it.
- Sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper around the base of the orchid. Cats don’t like the taste of pepper and the smell alone will likely be enough to keep your cat away from your orchids. However, it’s important to be sure that your cat doesn’t manage to eat any of the pepper.
- You can also try a commercial chew repellent. Chewfix is a great brand because it’s alcohol-free, non-toxic for your cat, and safe for your orchid (and most other houseplants).
If only all cats reacted like this one when presented with flowers!
Can Kittens Eat Orchids?
It’s never a good idea to let your kitten eat any houseplants, including orchids. While orchids are non-toxic and unlikely to do your kitten any harm if they are simply nibbling them, kittens may get carried away and actually ingest the orchid. Ingesting the orchid may cause digestive upset, including vomiting and diarrhea.
Hide your plants when you bring home a new kitten. Simply putting them on the counter won’t be enough, as kittens are very crafty and can jump relatively high.
Limiting your kitten’s access to houseplants, including orchids, is the best way to make sure they stay safe. Your best bet is to lock the plants in a room that your new kitten doesn’t have access to.
However, if you catch your kitten nibbling on your orchid, you don’t need to panic: orchids are non-toxic to cats. Simply remove the orchid from your kitten’s view and you should be fine!
If your kitten does eat a big chunk of orchid and experiencing extreme amounts of diarrhea or vomiting or they have symptoms lasting more than 24 hours, you may want to take them into the vet to be checked out. Kittens can get dehydrated easily and your vet may want to give them some fluids to help them through it.
Benefits/Negatives of Feeding Cats Orchids
Orchids don’t have any nutritional benefit for cats. While they are not toxic to our feline friends, our cats will derive absolutely no benefit from chewing on them or eating them.
In fact, while orchids aren’t toxic they can still cause digestive issues for your cat, especially if they eat them in large quantities.
Also, if a cat is filling up on orchids, then they won’t have room for a high-quality cat food that will provide them with all the nutrients they need! Merrick is a great brand that offers grain-free cat food that your cat can fill up on instead.
Alternatives To Orchids For Cats
While your cat may have their heart set on eating an orchid, it’s your job to make sure they only nibble on plants that are safe for them. While orchids aren’t toxic it’s not a good idea to let your cat get too carried away with one.
It’s a great idea to provide your cat with cat-friendly plant options to chew on. Cats love catnip and cat grass. Keeping some in your house may satisfy their need to nibble and help keep your beautiful orchids safe from kitty teeth!
There are tons of toys with catnip on the market, too! Look for ones that are visually appealing, such as the Kong Crinkle Cat toy, which make an enticing crinkling sound and is full of irresistible catnip.
These furry cats are getting a taste of catnip. As you can see, it’s much more exciting than an orchid!
So, can cats eat orchids?
While orchids aren’t poisonous to cats, they also don’t have any nutritional benefit for felines and may actually give your can an upset stomach if they eat too much of one.
In order to keep your cat and your orchid safe your best option is to use a deterrent on your orchid to keep your cat from chewing it.
Whether you choose a natural solution such as lemon or orange oil or a safe commercial product such as Chewfix, making the orchid as unappetizing as possible is the best way to make sure your cat doesn’t try to eat it.
Does your cat go after your orchids? How do you stop them from making a meal out of your expensive and beautiful flowers? Let us know in the comments!