Cats are naturally inquisitive, so it’s not surprising that they occasionally get into mischief. But if they do get into a cactus, what should you do? There are risks associated with cats eating cacti, despite the fact that most cacti aren’t toxic to them.
Keep reading if your feline companion is destroying your houseplants. We’ll show you every step of the way.
Can Cats Eat Cactus?
Even though most cactus plants are safe for your cat to eat, you still shouldn’t give your cat access to them. Cacti probably aren’t toxic, but their bristles pose their own risks.
Your cat’s mouth, throat, stomach, intestines, and pretty much the rest of its body can be damaged by these. The bristles on a cactus deter animals from eating it in the wild, and the same is true when you bring one indoors.
If your cat has ever shown an interest in eating cacti, you should probably keep them out of reach.
Cats and Cactus
The cactus, in contrast to a number of common houseplants, is safe for our feline friends to interact with. However, they pose a risk to even the most inquisitive felines due to their spines’ extreme sharpness. The Opuntia, or Prickly Pear, genus of cacti is especially dangerous due to the sharp spines it features.
Is Cactus Healthy for Your Cat?
Cacti are not necessarily toxic to your cat, but they also don’t provide a lot of nutrition. There’s no point in trying to coax your cat to eat cacti, so there’s no need to get crafty with preparation.
Keep your cats on their regular food and put the plants out of reach.
Why Can’t I Feed Cactus Fruit to My Cat?
As obligate carnivores, cats must consume meat as their sole source of nourishment. Their physiology isn’t suited to processing plant foods, so fruits and vegetables are off limits. Fruits and vegetables, despite the claims made by the manufacturers of many processed foods about their health benefits, often serve only as filler.
Plant material is nutritionally insufficient for our cats because they cannot absorb the beneficial vitamins and nutrients from plants like omnivores and herbivores can. Even though it’s safe for them to consume nontoxic fruits and vegetables in small amounts, there’s still no reason to include them in their diet.
The 9 Most Common Indoor Cactus Plants
Cacti come in many forms and are popular as indoor houseplants. The fact that these lovely plants don’t call for much in the way of a green thumb has only increased their popularity among people who need more low-maintenance houseplants. Here’s a rundown of the most popular cacti for use as houseplants:
Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys)
The appearance of the Bunny-Ears Cactus inspired its common name. The glochids that cover this cactus are brown in color, and it is a native species to Mexico. If given enough sunlight, they can grow up to three feet tall, bearing white flowers and purple fruits.
Chin Cactus (Gymnocalycium)
Named for its bare calyx, this South American cactus gets its name from the Greek. This is because their flower buds don’t have spines. Some chin cacti prefer full sun while others do better in the shade. They thrive in bright light and are often displayed on windowsills for their vibrant appearance.
Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)
One of the most well-known cactus species, the Saguaro grows naturally in the Sonoran Desert. This cactus matures to a height of 40 feet but develops at a glacial pace. Many Saguaro owners keep their plants indoors for years before finally realizing they need to transfer them to a more suitable outdoor location. This cactus really does need a lot of direct sunlight.
Old Lady Cactus (Mammillaria hahniana)
The Old Lady Cactus is a species of flowering cactus found naturally in Central Mexico. Its clustered stems are covered in long, white spines, hence the common name “Old Lady.” In the spring, it blooms with a ring of delicate pink or purple flowers.
Star Cactus (Astrophytum asteria)
The Star Cactus, also known as the Sea Urchin Cactus or the Sand Dollar Cactus, has a spherical body that is divided into 8 segments. This cactus rarely exceeds a diameter of six inches and is covered in minute white hairs and specks. A bright yellow flower will open in the spring.
Easter Cactus (Hatiora gaertneri)
This native of Brazil flowers between the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Easter cactus blossoms come in a rainbow of colors, from white to orange to lavender. This cactus is unlike any other; its spines are arranged in a vertical stack.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)
In late winter, when most other plants are dormant, the Christmas Cactus bursts into brilliant red flower. This cactus is a popular choice as a holiday present. It thrives in the moderate conditions and low lighting found inside the home. However, the flowers will thrive in brighter conditions.
Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia genus)
The edible fruits of the paddle-shaped Prickly Pear Cactus are well-known (if the plant is grown outdoors). Prickly Pear Cacti, which belong to the genus Opuntia, have different needs for light and water when grown in artificial environments. These cacti have very sharp spines, so handle them with care.
Ladyfinger Cactus (Mammillaria elongate)
Named for its long, finger-like growths, this Mexican cactus is extremely prickly. Because of how little care it requires, this cactus is ideal for those just starting out. Clusters of green and orange tubes give way to springtime flowers that are either pale yellow or pink.
Most Common Toxic Houseplants for Cats
Keep in mind that there is a spectrum of toxicity among common houseplants. Some of them may merely annoy you, but others can have devastating effects on your health. If you have pets, it’s important to know whether or not a new plant species you’re considering bringing into your home is toxic to them. Your veterinarian can provide you with this information.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of toxic houseplants, but it does contain many of the most frequently encountered houseplants that are harmful to cats.
- Various species of Amaryllis
- Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) blooms in the fall.
- Plants in the azalea and rhododendron family
- (Ricinus communis) Castor Beans
- Flowers of the genus Chrysanthemum are commonly known as daisies and mothers.
- The cyclamen (genus Cyclamen)
- Narcissus (daffodils) and other daffodils.
- Plants in the genus Dieffenbachia
- Hedera helix, or English ivy,
- (Hyacinthus orientalis) hyacinths.
- All species of Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe)
- The lily (genus: Lilum)
- Convallaria majalis, or lily-of-the-valley.
- Hemp (also known as marijuana)
- Oleander, also known as N. oleander.
- A species of Spathiphyllum commonly known as a peace lily.
- The epipremnum aureum (pothos) and “Devil’s Ivy.”
- Cycas revoluta, or the sago palm
- Coleus ampoinicus, or Spanish thyme.
- Tulip (genus Tulipa)
- True yew (Taxus)
A cat getting into a cactus isn’t always a dire situation, but it’s only a matter of time before something goes wrong. Avoid cacti and seek out houseplants that are safe for cats. Both your houseplants and feline friends will appreciate it.