Is Christmas Cactus Safe for Cats?

Are you a cat owner looking to expand your houseplant collection? Christmas cacti are very popular and low-maintenance plants that are easy to grow. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago will share if this plant is toxic to cats.

A Christmas cactus blossoms in full glory. Its slender petals, like delicate brushstrokes, unfold to reveal a mesmerizing dance of colors. Nestled within a terracotta pot, this botanical masterpiece rests upon a wooden table, its presence radiating warmth and elegance.


Choosing a new houseplant to bring into your home can be a really fun process. There are so many beautiful options to choose from. However, making the right choice can be challenging when you factor in your pets. Some options are completely safe for animals, while others are toxic. Who knew being a responsible pet owner and plant owner could be so tricky?

Christmas cacti are popular succulents, well-loved for their bright-colored flowers that bloom throughout winter. Their flattened leaves make up the stems and give them their beautiful draping appearance. They are very popular houseplants because they are easy to care for and add color to our homes when there isn’t much color from our other plants. 

If you have been thinking about getting a Christmas cactus or have one already and are considering getting a cat, read on. Let’s learn if this plant is toxic to cats and what you can do to keep both your pets and plants safe and happy. 

The Short Answer

Excellent news for cat owners: according to the ASPCA, Christmas cactus is non-toxic to cats! Neither the flowers nor the leaves pose any threat to you or your critters.

The Long Answer

A close-up of a Christmas cactus flower unfolds its delicate petals, revealing a vibrant crimson hue with subtle pink accents. The flower has a yellow center with pollen, and some of the petals are still closed in a bud. The cactus has green, segmented stems with small thorns.
Christmas cacti, safe for cats and dogs, bring joy to pet-friendly homes.

Christmas cacti are, luckily, non-toxic to cats, dogs, and humans. You should feel very happy and safe when choosing this plant to live in your home among your furry and not-so-furry family.

Of course, cats are curious. While these plants are safe, nibbling on the flowers or leaves may cause other issues. Your plants could experience breakage. Containers could fall to the ground, causing a mess… if you have pets, you can imagine. 

If you are looking for ways to keep your plants safe from your cats, I have listed five tips to help you create a harmonious union between your pets and plants.

Hang Your Plants

A close-up of a Christmas cactus hanging basket with pink flowers. The flowers have long, slender petals that curve outwards. The leaves of the cactus are green and segmented, with a slightly scalloped edge.
Hang plants in a high basket or shelf to prevent breakage and protect plants from being knocked over.

The beautiful trailing nature of the plant attracts kids and animals alike, especially when it is in bloom. To keep your cats safe from this plant falling on them or the container breaking and damaging the plant, consider planting in a hanging basket. By keeping these plants up and out of reach, you are keeping your cats and plants safe. 

Many styles of hanging baskets are on the market, from simple plastic to elaborately decorative versions. Whichever style suits you will work as long as there is proper drainage. Use succulent soil or amend your potting soil with perlite to protect the roots from rot. 

If you cannot hang your plant, try placing it on a shelf that is high enough that your cat will not be interested in it. While it is true that cats are excellent climbers, finding a nook in your home to set your plant is possible; you just need to be creative! Try bookshelves, the top of a refrigerator, a shelf in the bathroom, or even a china cabinet that gets lots of bright but indirect sunlight. 

Use Plant Protectors

A close-up of a woman kneeling on the ground beside a flower bed. She is using a mallet to secure a black protective mat to the ground, using a long, metal clip. The mat is being used to suppress weeds, conserve water, and protect the soil.
Cover the soil with a layer of cat-friendly pebbles.

Does your cat like to dig around in the soil? If so, there is a simple solution. Placing plant protectors on the soil surface will help to deter any digging. You can purchase mats with small spikes on them online or at your local pet shop or use a landscape fabric to protect the soil.

While the soil will not hurt your cat, nor will your cat hurt the soil, the digging can cause damage to foliage, flowers, or even the root system.

The above solutions can cause issues for your plant or, at the very least, make it a bit more complicated to care for your cactus. Alternatively, you can just collect some small pebbles from your garden or use terrarium rocks and cover the soil surface with them and get the same result.  The pebbles will allow water to filter through easily and won’t require any extra maintenance. 

Use Citrus

A close-up of fresh lemons hanging on a branch under the bright sun. Some of the lemons are ripe and yellow, while others are still green and unripe. The contrast between ripe and unripe lemons captures the cycle of growth and transformation in nature's bounty.
Try citrus or pet sprays to repel cats, using vinegar and cayenne sparingly.

Cats do not like the smell of citrus, so adding some citrusy aromas to or near your plants can help deter your pets from playing with your cactus. 

Simply use leftover lemon or orange peels from your kitchen. Place these leftover kitchen scraps on the soil surface of the pot. Alternatively, you could collect the peels in a bowl and place them near your houseplants for the same result. 

If citrus does not keep your cats away, there are pet deterrents on the market that can be sprayed on your plants. These sprays typically use a combination of essential oils to give the plant an unlikable aroma that should not harm the plant in any way. However, it’s best to test a small portion of the plant before applying it to the whole plant, just to ensure that you don’t have any lasting damage!

Vinegar, cayenne pepper, and coffee are other household items that can deter your cat. Use these sparingly, as they may irritate your cat’s stomach. 

Give Your Cat a Plant

An orange cat enjoys a snack of cat grass in a green vase in a patch of sunlight. The cat's face is content as it savors the taste of the grass. The sunlight casts a warm glow on the cat's fur, making it look even more plush and inviting.
Cats enjoy cat grass or catnip, distracting them from your ornamental plants.

If your cat seems particularly interested in your houseplants, try giving them a potted plant of their own. While this plant is safe, you may not want your cat getting into your prized beauty. 

Try planting cat grass or catnip in your home. Both plants easily attract cats, are safe, and have digestion benefits. Keep them in an area where you are okay with your cats playing and away from your Christmas cactus.

You can buy plants or grow from seed right in a container in your home. Position your pots in a sunny spot where your cat likes to relax.

Move it Outdoors

A close-up of reddish-pink Schlumbergera flowers with a small bee visible on the side. The flowers have multiple petals that are arranged in a symmetrical fashion and taper towards the tip. The stems are flat and segmented, and they have a zig-zag appearance.
Move the plant outdoors in the summer to create a cat-friendly environment.

No matter where you live, there is a point in the year when you can move your Christmas cactus outdoors. Be thoughtful when you move your cacti outdoors. It should be kept in indirect sunlight and protected from intense heat

Moving your plant outside, if only temporarily, will help to keep your indoor cat away, avoiding this issue entirely! 

Final Thoughts

As a cat owner, you can rest easy knowing your beloved pets are safe with Christmas cacti growing in your home. While these plants are beautiful and may catch your cat’s eye, you can take simple steps to deter them. Happy planting!

Close up of a pink and white Thanksgiving cactus bloom at the end of a long, green cascading stem.


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Overwatered Christmas Cactus

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