5 Indoor Palms Safe for Cats

Owning a pet means thinking carefully before selecting a plant and putting it on display somewhere within reach of the pet. Many plants are toxic to pets—and sometimes people—when ingested.

Given the curiosity of cats and their propensity to munch on plants, grass, and anything green, it’s vital to make sure the palm you select won’t cause problems should the family pet decide to take a leaf or two for a snack.

According to the ASPCA, many plants are safe for cats, but what about palms? Is it possible to grow a palm in your home when you have cats?

The answer is yes!

Consider the following palms—and faux palms—to enhance the tropical décor of your home in a cat-safe way.

1. Areca Palm

Dypsis lutescens
Photo by Dinesh Valke, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The areca palm, or the Dypsis lutescens, is a light and feathery palm tree that beautifies your home and poses no danger to your cat.

Also known as the butterfly palm, this plant is a wonderful option when you want a dark and vibrant green palm in your home. The areca palm was first found in Madagascar, the large island off the southeastern coast of Africa.

In the wild, the palm grows like bamboo: in clusters with several other plants. In addition to growing much like a bamboo plant, this palm has a trunk resembling bamboo, too.

Unlike other types of cat-safe palms, the areca palm does require some attention and care, so it’s definitely not a “set it and forget it” plant.

However, as long as you find the right place for the palm—bright, indirect sunlight—and get the water and food right, the plant should thrive in a humid area in your home.

You may place the palm in partial sunlight or bright indirect light, and it usually enjoys water about two or three times a week in the growing season or the summer.

The palm doesn’t like temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, so a bathroom or one of the rooms in your home that remains warmish is a good option.

Try to keep the soil aerated, but don’t let the soil get too dry. Keep the soil lightly moist between each watering, but don’t let it remain drenched.

2. Banana Palm

Musa acuminata
Photo by Krzysztof Golik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The banana palm, or the Musa acuminate, is not actually a palm, but it’s not a tree, either.

Technically, the banana tree is a perennial herb related to plants like birds of paradise and parakeet heliconias. However, many people refer to the banana tree as a banana palm, so it’s worth including on this list because it’s not toxic to cats.

Yes, you can grow bananas with the banana palm, but the plant requires extra attention to thrive in your home.

They enjoy growing in fertile soil rich with potassium, nitrogen, and organic matter. They don’t like cold temperatures and prefer some humidity.

When you grow a banana plant, you may notice that a single banana plant becomes a small grove of banana plants over time. This is entirely normal and the natural process by which the plant grows season after season.

The tiny new plants that grow from the soil around the main plant will eventually take their parent plant’s place.

If you live in a dry area, allowing the banana tree to grow in a little potted grove will help retain moisture in the vicinity of the plant, which is important for their happiness.

Try to place your banana palm in the sunniest window of your home because they enjoy a good dose of sunshine each day. You can even place your banana palm outside in the summer to give it additional sunlight.

3. Majesty Palm

Ravenea rivularis
Photo by Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The majesty palm, or the Ravenea rivularis, is aptly named since it can grow to a towering 100 feet when grown in the wild. Native to Madagascar, the majesty palm is a popular indoor plant today and is safe for cats.

In ideal conditions, the palm may grow up to 10 feet tall inside, but it grows very slowly after reaching about 5 feet, so you don’t have to worry about it reaching the ceiling for quite some time.

The majesty palm is somewhat picky when it comes to an ideal indoor growing environment; however, they grow into magnificent plants when they tower above everything else in your home, so taking the time and years to give them the best growing environment is worth the effort.

The majesty palm enjoys humidity and moist, well-draining soil. It doesn’t like getting too much fertilizer and is opposed to an overabundance of sunlight.

However, if you place the palm in a dim area of your home, it gets stretched out and leggy as it searches for more sunlight.

If you live in a particularly dry area, you might want to run a humidifier, especially in the winter, to keep the majesty palm happy.

In the growing seasons of spring and summer, they like fertilizer just once or twice. Majesty palm owners often have success with a fertilizer made for cactuses.

4. Parlor Palm

Chamaedorea elegans
Photo by lukestehr, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

When you want the lush look of a palm in your home but don’t have a bright window, the parlor palm, or the Chamaedorea elegans, is an excellent indoor palm safe for cats.

The parlor palm is tall and exotic and may make you feel like you’ve just walked into an upscale hotel in the Caribbean.

The parlor palm grows well in shady areas of the home and thrives when you give it some indirect sunlight. Most of these elegant palms reach around four feet high, but they may reach up to eight feet tall when given enough room in a pot and ample indirect light.

Not only is the parlor palm safe for cats, but it’s also relatively easy to grow.

Once you find a place in your home that will give the plant some indirect sunlight each day, commence watering it whenever the first few inches of soil are dry. In the spring and summer, you’ll also want to feed it once a month.

You can also water it less frequently in the winter since it grows less in the colder months.

You shouldn’t need to move the plant once you’ve found a place for it; however, make sure it doesn’t receive any direct sunlight since the palm can’t handle it.

5. Ponytail Palm

Beaucarnea recurvata
Photo by Robert, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr

The ponytail palm, or the Beaucarnea recurvata, is safe for cats. However, the only drawback is that the style of this fun plant may attract the claws and playful nature of a curious feline.

The ponytail palm looks like its name might suggest: a “ponytail” of leaves coming out of its bulbous trunk. The ponytail palm is a “faux” palm and is actually succulent, similar to plants like the yucca and agave.

However, they do quite resemble traditional palms and don’t cause any harm to cats when ingested. The ponytail palm is commonly found in arid places like southeastern Mexico and usually grows several hundred to a few thousand feet above sea level.

Its hardiness makes the ponytail palm an excellent and sturdy houseplant.

You’ll want to find a bright place for your ponytail palm and ensure it lives in some well-draining soil. Succulent or cactus soil is usually the best choice.

One of the perks of owning a ponytail palm is that it doesn’t require constant care. You can water it once every three to four weeks and forget about it the rest of the time.

The plant fares well in dry areas, so you don’t need to put it in a bathroom or make sure your home remains humid.

Ponytail palms enjoy temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They get hungry in the summer and spring and enjoy fertilizer twice a month during the warm months.

Related: 9 Ponytail Palm Benefits

Author: Stanislav Lem


Stanislav Lem is the founder of Big Time Living, where he provides tips for gardening, traveling and lifestyle. Stan is an entrepreneur, journalist and traveler.
His mission is to provide information to help people become better planters, travel more and live a happy life. His blog has been featured on Huffpost, Yahoo and MSN.