How to be Sure Your Plants are Non-Toxic Before Your Pet Takes a Bite

February 29, 2012
Chomped African Violet

Kitty-Chomped & Pup-Abandoned African Violet

My home used to be a jungle of houseplants, but with pets like mine they don’t stand a chance anymore. I scaled back what I grow indoors after my cat nearly chomped my bonsai to death years ago. I also stopped bringing in bouquets because he demolishes — and later barfs — those as well. So, we’re down to a few succulents, that bonsai placed well out of reach, a couple of begonias, and a couple of African violets.

Well, we had a couple of African Violets. Now, we barely have one.

Turns out kitty has developed a palate for these crunchy, fuzzy plants. I realized this when found one of them chewed to a mere nub the other day. He had also yanked a number of stems off the nearby Christmas cactus.

And to top it all off, he’s taught the puppy that plants are fun to play with. So, soon after he’d mangled the poor violet into submission, dropping it onto the floor after his snack, the pup picked up his leavings and played solo catch with the nearly destroyed little plant nubbin.

Chewed Plastic Pot

Pup-Mangled Plastic Violet Pot

Then, after abandoning the tortured violet on a nearby rug where its soil embedded into the just-cleaned carpet, she picked up the plastic chew toy in which it had been encased. And, she chomped and tore that sucker into submission.

Yum. Yum. Glad that pot was a cheap one.

After I composted the poor plant to put it out of its misery and recycled the remains of the plastic pot, I figured this was a good reminder to check the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant list. This searchable list can help you avoid planting something¬† (indoors or outdoors) that might make puss, pup or even pony get sick.

Since my cat isn’t dead yet, I assumed that the African Violet is non-toxic. And, the ASPCA’s site helped me verify that. (You never know when some long-term lingering liver issue might crop up weeks or months later.)

So, yes, now I’m down to a couple of succulents, a jade, a couple of begonias, an out-of-reach bonsai, one semi-mangled Christmas cactus and a lonely African Violet that’s likely the next plant on bad kitty’s menu.

If he keeps this up, he may end up getting introduced to the compost pile right along with the plants he kills.


  1. Susan Maki says:

    Daphne chews up every plant she can get her mouth on….Shaggy was never this destructive. I feel like I have a toddler again – she needs constant supervision outside. Her favorite plant to chew on? Rhodies, of course. She very cute….but a total handful.

  2. Every pet has its own personality, that’s for sure! Sorry she’s a little destroyer. Hopefully, she doesn’t get sick on rhodies. I know they’re toxic, but I’ve also heard tell of more than one dog that chews on them and lives to wag its tail. Has she gotten sick?

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