Want to grow some succulents but you’re worried they might be toxic to your cat? Here are 7 of the non-toxic succulents for cats.
The following succulents are completely safe for cats:
- Totem pole cactus
- Ghost plant
- Dwarf chin cactus
- Black rose
- Ball cactus
- Jet Beads
Let’s take a more detailed look at each one of these cat-safe succulents.
Totem Pole Cactus (Pachycereus schottii Monstrous)
Heard that most succulents tend to remain small for the most part? Well, the totem pole cactus doesn’t. The Baja California native is among the few succulent cuties that grow tall, attaining a height of up to 12 feet.
Besides growing so tall, the totem pole cactus is also devoid of spines, quite contrary to what you expect of most cacti. The entire stem is covered with smooth tiny bumps, a trait that’s a result of mutation. That being said, the monstrous cactus does grow some spikes at the very top of mature stems.
Flowers are also just as rare as the spikes and they only open at night during summer.
To grow to the imposing size, the totem pole needs lots of light so you better make sure it’s getting as much as possible – a full day of direct exposure will be ideal regardless of whether the plant is indoors or outdoors.
Before going the outdoor route, ensure winters in your area aren’t too cold for the totem pole cactus to handle. Extended exposure to freezing temperatures (below 24 degrees Fahrenheit) is bound to kill the plant real quick.
As with any other succulent, water this cactus only when the soil is dry and use a well-draining cactus/succulent mix when planting it.
Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum paraguayense)
Well, that’s quite of an unflattering name for such a cutie. No worries, though, the ghost plant is nothing as dreadful and it’ll totally be a great idea to have it in your collection.
The succulent forms a rosette with stems averaging between six and twelve inches at maturity. Leaves grow in a spiral arrangement around the plant and are usually light grey, green, and light pink.
The ultimate color will depend on whether or not your plant is receiving enough light. As a sun-loving succulent, the ghost plant will develop pinkish foliage when exposed to a flood of direct sunlight. The common light grey hue, on the other hand, is caused by the plant growing in inadequate light.
So you know what to do if you want some color variety with your ghost plant. If you’re growing it indoors, a south or east-facing window is the most ideal place for this plant.
The leaves easily come off the stem which is pretty handy for propagation.
Dwarf Chin Cactus (Gymnocalycium baldianum)
The dwarf chin cactus grows to a little over 3 inches, making it one of the smallest succulents out there – a major plus if you’re looking to fill up a tiny space with some plant life.
Just like most cacti, the dwarf chin cactus spots spines, pale grey, and curved which is why it’s sometimes referred to as the spider-cactus. Globular in shape, the cactus also possesses ribs – about 10 0f them – each divided into several areoles from which the spines emerge.
Unlike most cacti, dwarf chin grows slightly faster, so expect to see blooms sooner – usually in the second year if you’re starting to grow the succulent from scratch. The flowers grow atop the stem in early summer and come in a variety of colors including orange, red, or pink.
The blooming here, though, will depend on how well you take care of your cactus. For instance, prolonged full sun exposure is known to significantly delay flowering and could potentially damage the plant.
So it goes without saying – bright indirect light will work best for a dwarf chin cactus. Keep that in mind whether you plan to raise the plant indoors or outdoors.
Dudleya is a whole genus of Echeveria-like succulents made up of about 45 individual species. At one time, all Dudleyas were classified under Echeveria due to their close resemblance.
Most of the plants in this genus are native to the United States and Mexico though a few can be found in South America.
Just like their Echeveria look-alikes, Dudleyas also grow in a rosette with smooth fleshy leaves. These come in a variety of colors including green, gray, and blue with a thin chalky covering called farina. Farina here protects the plants against extreme weather conditions, especially intense sunlight.
The farina comes off easily when the plant is touched which could jeopardize the plant’s ability to quell intense sun rays, so you might want to avoid handling the leaves.
With good care, these plants can last forever – over 100 years – which is basically why they’re referred to as dudleya which directly translates to “live forever”.
Different from other succulents that go into dormancy in winter, Dudleya plants stop growing in summer, and you’ll do them a huge favor to completely stop watering during this period.
Black Rose (Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’)
That common name is pretty descriptive of this succulent – it’s dark purple (almost black) and shaped just like a rose. It’s a great addition to your collection because of that color besides being safe for your cat.
But that dark color isn’t a given. The black rose needs full sun otherwise the leaf color will tend more between a reddish-purple and green.
That being said, the plant will not be adversely affected by a lack of full sun. Partial shade is just as helpful in maintaining optimal growth.
Freezing conditions are generally bad news for the black rose, especially if the plant is exposed to them for a prolonged period. The plant can tolerate shorter exposures to mild frost and freezing conditions, though.
It all depends on how low the temperatures get in your area during winter.
Ball Cactus (Parodia magnifica)
Balloon cactus, blue ball cactus, and green ball cactus are some of the other common names used for this cactus. As you can tell from these names, the cactus has a round appearance which is definitely one of the reasons it’s so adored as a houseplant.
The globular stem is made up of between 11 to 15 ribs, each lined with spikes that are white but turn golden as they age. On average, most ball cactus plants grow to a height of 8 inches and a diameter of 6 inches.
The plants also put out numerous offset clusters at the base of the main stem, sometimes extending as far out as a foot wide. Obviously, this will only happen if the pot is spacious enough or if you’re growing your ball cactus out in the garden.
If you decide to go the garden/outdoor route, light should be the main factor to lead you. Unlike most cacti species, the ball cactus doesn’t respond well to the full sun. So make sure you plant it in a spot that’s sheltered from the afternoon sun.
But if that’s impossible, you might have to just plant your cactus in a pot so that you can move it once the hottest part of the day comes around.
Good for the ball cactus, though, freezing temperatures aren’t much of a threat. As long as the temperature doesn’t fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, your baby should be fine.
Jet Beads Stonecrop(x Sedeveria Jet Beads)
The jet beads stonecrop grows in semi-upright stems that reach about 4 inches tall. Small pointed leaves grow on pretty much the entire stems and come in a range of interesting hues. These include the usual green you’ll find in most plants, reddish-purple, dark copper, and even black.
The colors become more intense as the temperatures become cooler, typically below 40 degrees Fahrenheit which, of course, enhances the plant’s beauty.
Unfortunately, blooming isn’t something to wait for when growing the jet beads stonecrop since the plant rarely puts out any flowers. You’ll have to make do with the beauty the plant offers in its colorful leaves, which is more than enough, to be honest.
The kind of soil and watering routine are the main things to watch out for if you want to keep your jet beads alive.
And they aren’t any different from your usual succulent – the soil must drain fast enough to keep the plant’s roots dry and you should only water once the soil mix is dry.
Don’t forget the light, though. As a sun-loving cutie, this succulent will do best in direct full sun. So be sure it’s growing in the sunniest spot in your house or garden for areas where the temperature doesn’t fall below 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Who said cats and succulents can’t co-exist? Just because some succulents are up to no good doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon the idea of growing them. And it doesn’t also mean you have to give up your cat(s).
With this list of succulents safe for cats, you have a good starting point as far as the non-toxic plants go.
Grab some and have fun raising them alongside your cat.
Hello! I’m Oscar, a freelance writer from Kenya. Among other topics, I also love writing about houseplants – succulents to be specific. I prefer them because they’re so much easier to care compared to other plants and they also offer so much variety in terms of shape, size, and color.