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Ginger cat smelling flowers

The essentials

  • Some flowers are safe for dogs but toxic to cats — Flowers (like lilies) cause mild gastrointestinal upset in dogs but are highly toxic to cats.
  • Check the scientific name — The common name isn’t as reliable since many plants may use similar names.
  • Call the Pet Poison Helpline — If you’re unsure what type of flower your cat ate, immediately call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).

As a cat owner, fearing toxic flowers shouldn’t deter you from keeping them in your home or garden. Although many plants are toxic to cats and dogs, several pet-friendly flowers are safe for cats. Whether you want to grow flowers in your yard or add a bouquet to your home, knowing which flowers are safe for your cat to nibble on could be a lifesaver. Here’s a list of safe flowers for cats.

1. Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria)

Bouquet of white alstroemeria flowers

Unlike traditional lilies, Alstroemeria is a Peruvian lily, sometimes referred to as the lily of the Incas. While traditional lilies are extremely toxic to cats (and can lead to fatal kidney failure), the Alstroemeria is not a true lily. They only resemble their physical characteristics, which is where their name comes from. Blooms are pink, orange, red, purple, and white, with contrasting streaks and speckles. Alstroemeria is a perennial that needs full sun to produce the most blooms. This plant is great as a cut flower and is easy to grow and care for.

Caring for Alstroemeria

Pros Cons
✓ Perennial ✕ Rots in too much water
✓ Drought tolerant ✕ Susceptible to aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, snails, slugs
✓ Great as a cut flower ✕ Spreads aggressively
✓ Over 120 species

2. Blazing star (Liatris spicata)

Blazing Star flowers

Source: Drew Avery (flickr)

Liatris, commonly known as blazing star, is a tall, feathery, spikey purple flower. It’s commonly used in gardens and is native to prairies and sedge meadows. With more than 40 species, it’s found in almost every growing zone throughout North America. One of its main advantages is that this plant is non-toxic to cats, dogs, and other animals. Choosing non-toxic plants allows them to explore the garden without any risk of toxicity. It poses no danger even if your cat brushes up against the flowers. Liatris needs full sun and well-draining soil but handles drought conditions well .

Caring for Liatris

Pros Cons
✓ Perennial ✕ Susceptible to diseases like leaf spot, rusts, stem rot, powdery mildew, wilt
✓ Attracts pollinators ✕ Flowers need staking
✓ Hardy and cold-tolerant
✓ Easy to grow from seed
✓ Drought tolerant

3. Freesia (Freesia spp.)

Freesia flowers

Source: Zaher.Kadour (Wikimedia)

Freesia, frequently found in bouquets, is non-toxic and generally safe around cats. Fragrant and colorful, Freesia’s aroma and diverse spectrum of hues, from white to yellow, red, and pink, make it popular in and around homes. They don’t pose a serious risk however, if ingested, they may cause mild gastrointestinal upset. Freesia needs full sun and fertile, well-draining, moist soil. While they do well in humidity, they go dormant and won’t produce flowers over 70°F.

Caring for Freesia

Pros Cons
✓ Can be brought inside each year ✕ Over-watering can cause rot
✓ Perennial in some zones ✕ Needs full sun
✓ Don’t need to water often ✕ Only perennial in certain zones
✓ Great as a cut flower ✕ Susceptible to aphids, thrips, snails, slugs
✕ Susceptible to root and stem rot, dry rot, wilt

4. Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii)

Gerbera daisies are a safe flower to have in your home around cats. Typically seen in pink, orange, and yellow, when found in bouquets, colors range from bright purple to blue. While these daisies are safe, not all varieties are. If ingested, chamomile, chrysanthemum, and seaside daisies may cause mild toxicity. On the other hand, showy daisies are severely toxic . Gerbera daisies do best in partial or full sun with moist and well-draining soil, although these flowers don’t do well in extreme heat or drought conditions.

Caring for gerbera daisies

Pros Cons
✓ Repeat bloomers ✕ Don’t do well in hot climates
✓ Fairly low maintenance ✕ Black spots appear if soil pH is low
✓ Perennial in some zones ✕ Not drought tolerant
✕ Susceptible to spider mites, aphids, whiteflies, thrips
✕ Susceptible to powdery mildew, crown or root rot, blight

5. Orchids (Orchidaceae)

Many people have orchids in their homes, and cat owners can rest assured that they are safe. Orchids are non-toxic to cats and do not contain any cat toxic chemicals or substances — although, just like with most plants, don’t let your cat freely chomp on it. Despite being non-toxic, orchids can still cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested. Orchids need growing conditions similar to those in their native habitats, with porous airflow. An orchid-growing medium usually includes bark, sphagnum moss, peat moss, and perlite. Avoid over-watering and choose a location with indirect south and east-facing light.

Caring for orchids

Pros Cons
✓ Don’t need a lot of water ✕ Needs a specific growing medium with bark, sphagnum moss, perlite, peat
✓ Grow well in humid environments ✕ Need careful attention to watering, drying out in between
✓ Can live between 15 to 20 years ✕ Will rot if over-watered
✕ Care varies based on variety
✕ Susceptible to aphids, fungus gnats, mealybugs, spider mites, whiteflies, scale, thrips

6. Cockscomb (Celosia)

Celosia flowers

You may have seen Celosia in landscape plantings as bright red, orange, magenta, and yellow blooms. These vibrant plants are safe and non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. They are low-maintenance and can produce fluffy, plume-like feather, wheat, and cockscomb-type flowers. It’s a great, non-toxic plant for cat owners to plant in their gardens. Cockscomb thrives in full sun, gardens (rather than pots), hot weather, and well-draining soil.

Caring for Celosia

Pros Cons
✓ Do well in hot weather ✕ Annual in some zones
✓ Rarely has issues with pests or diseases
✓ Bloom in summer and fall
✓ Easy to grow and propagate

7. Sunflowers (Helianthus annus)


All parts of the sunflower, including the petals and seeds, are not toxic to cats. But this doesn’t mean your cat should snack on them. If your cat is starting to nibble on a sunflower, be particularly cautious about letting them eat the seed shells. The roughness and sharp edges of the shells may lead to irritation and a possible blockage if too many are consumed.

To prevent potential issues, keep the seeds out of your cat’s reach. Sunflowers need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day, well-draining soil, and regular watering. They are tolerant and, with proper watering, can handle high humidity and heat.

Caring for sunflowers

Pros Cons
✓ Low maintenance ✕ Annual flower
✓ Drought tolerant ✕ Susceptible to powdery mildew, wilt rust, rot
✓ Attract pollinators ✕ Attracts deer, rodents, pests

8. Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

Zinnia flowers

Zinnias are an excellent choice for pet owners. These cat-safe flowers boast vibrant and tropical colors like hot pink, mustard-yellow, bright orange, and red. Vivid hues and pet-safe blooms can help cat owners create a pet-friendly outdoor garden. Zinnias need full sun and plenty of air circulation. Additionally, zinnias adapt well to various well-draining soil conditions. These flowers don’t do well transplanted, so it’s best to sow directly in the garden if growing from seed.

Caring for Zinnias

Pros Cons
✓ Deer-resistant ✕ Susceptible to wilt, bacterial and fungal spots, powdery mildew
✓ Great as a cut flower ✕ Susceptible to spider mites, mealybugs, caterpillars
✓ Heat and drought-tolerant
✓ Prolific bloomers

9. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

Snapdragon flowers

Source: Adam Fagen (flickr)

Snapdragons get their name from the distinctive dragon-snout-shaped blooms. These tall, vibrant, blossom-filled plants thrive in the cooler weather of early spring and late fall. Cat owners can safely and freely plant snapdragons — they are safe for pets and non-toxic to cats.  Snapdragons are the perfect choice for gardeners who want a pet-friendly flower with a wide range of colors, heights, and textures. They do best in full sun, well-draining soil, and cool temperatures.

Caring for snapdragon

Pros Cons
✓ Great for cut flowers ✕ Annuals in some zones
✓ Low-maintenance ✕ Need regular watering
✓ Perennials in some zones ✕ Don’t do well in the heat
✓ Attract pollinators ✕ Susceptible to rust, powdery mildew

10. Statice (Limonium sinuatum)

Statice flowers

Source: cultivar413 (flickr)

Statice, also called sea lavender, is safe for cats and typically won’t cause severe issues even if your cat eats it. Statice features tiny, delicate white flowers nestled within vibrant, protective outer layers. These outer layers give the flowers their spectrum of colors, including yellow, orange, blue, purple, and pink. Statice does best in full sun, well-drained sandy soil, and hot, dry climates. Avoid bacterial and fungal disease by watering at the base of the plant.

Caring for statice

Pros Cons
✓ Perennial in some zones ✕ Susceptible to anthracnose, gray mold, wilt, powdery mildew, crown and root rot
✓ Great for cut flowers ✕ Annual in some zones
✓ Low-maintenance ✕ Overly wet soil causes rot
✓ Good for containers

11. Roses (Rosa spp.)

Pink wild rose flowers

Whether you’ve got roses in a flower arrangement or growing in the garden, all rose parts (except the thorns) are safe for cats. In bouquets, however, the primary concern is that roses are highly contaminated with chemicals and pesticides, which are toxic for pets. Watch for any signs of toxicity or poisoning, and call your vet immediately if you notice anything unusual. Roses need a lot of space to grow deep roots and full sun with at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. While some varieties are low-maintenance, they still require mulching, pruning, and watering.

Caring for roses

Pros Cons
✓ Adaptable to different soils ✕ Need to be mulched yearly
✓ Some varieties are low-maintenance ✕ Attract deer
✓ Perennial ✕ Susceptible to rosette disease, black spot, powdery mildew, downy mildew
✕ Need frequent watering

🚨 Even if a plant isn’t toxic, it can still cause gastrointestinal upset if your cat eats it.

Tips for keeping your pets away from plants

Cats are naturally curious, and as cat owners, you know they’re often drawn to the forbidden things in your home — this is especially true with flowers and plants. It’s best not to keep toxic plants in your home, even if you think your cat can’t or won’t get into them. Some toxic plants can cause fatal kidney disease even if your cat touches the pollen or drinks water from the vase. Here are some tips for when your cat won’t leave your plants alone.

  • Place flowers up high. Ensure plants are out of reach where pets can’t access them, like on shelves or in hanging planters.
  • Keep them in closed-off areas. To keep your plants pet-free, keep them in a closed-off area, such as a bedroom.
  • Provide plenty of enrichment. By keeping your cat mentally stimulated, you reduce the chance they get into or do things they’re not supposed to.
  • Make plants unappealing. Use large rocks, foil, or pinecones placed on the soil to deter them from digging. These still allow water to drain through the plant’s soil but make the plant less attractive.
  • Reward good behavior. If your cat leaves the plant alone, walk past or away from it — bring on the love and treats.

👉 If you want to keep your flowers and plants looking good and free from pests, check out our list of the best pet-safe pesticides

What to do if your cat eats an unknown plant

It’s surprisingly easy to misidentify plants and flowers. If your cat has ingested a harmful plant, monitor them for signs of distress or poisoning. Early detection and getting to the vet immediately can make a significant difference in how effective treatment is. Here are some symptoms to watch for if you think your cat ate a toxic flower:

If you notice any of these symptoms or if your cat isn’t acting normally, call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) immediately. Early detection of poisoning increases the likelihood of a successful outcome. 

If you suspect your cat ingested a potential toxin, do not make your cat vomit with hydrogen peroxide (this is toxic for cats). Do not wait for symptoms to appear before contacting your vet, and don’t use any home remedies or medications.

If your cat ingests a toxic (or unknown) plant, first safely remove them from the area. Make note of how much your cat has eaten, how much time has passed, any identifying features of the plant, and any symptoms that you have noticed. Then, call your vet or a pet poison helpline immediately and follow their advice, which may range from monitoring to an ER visit. Especially if your cat has ingested lilies, do NOT wait until you notice clinical signs, as it can take 12-36 hours for kidney damage to appear.

Dr. Liza Cahn

As a cat owner, you can still enjoy the beauty of flowers and plants. The key is picking the right pet-friendly flowers that are safe for cats. By selecting pet-safe flowers, you can have peace of mind knowing that your furry friend will remain unharmed, even if they choose to take a quick bite.

Frequently asked questions

What flowering plants are safe for pets?

Before selecting flowering plants, check their scientific names. Some flowering plants that are safe for dogs are toxic to cats. Some safe for cats include roses, snapdragons, sunflowers, orchids, gerberas, zinnias, and Liatris.

What edible flowers are safe for cats?

Freesia, celosia, Alstroemeria, and statice are safe flowers for cats. But this doesn’t mean they should be allowed to snack on them.

Is lavender toxic to cats?

According to the ASPCA , lavender is toxic to cats.

What is the most toxic flower to cats?

Lilies are the most toxic flower to cats. All parts of lilies, including the pollen, are toxic, causing fatal kidney failure .

Can cats eat roses?

Yes, except for the thorns, roses are non-toxic to cats. However, pesticides or chemicals may cause toxicity, so monitor your cat for any signs of poisoning.