Are Boston Ferns Poisonous to Cats? (Nope!)

By Phil / February 23, 2020
Are Boston Ferns Poisonous to Cats

Most ferns make for great house plants, and the Boston Fern is one of the more attractive, easy to care for, and fun ferns to have around the home.

If you share your home with a cat, however – or a dog for that matter – you need to check that your Boston Fern doesn’t pose any health threats.

Some of the most unassuming plants possess some seriously toxic threats to pets and us. (Just read this post on whether or no the fiddle leaf fig is toxic to cats).

So, if you have a Boston Fern or are thinking of getting one and you share your home with pets, here’s everything you need to be aware of:

What Is a Boston Fern?

What Is a Boston Fern

First of all, if you’re on the fence about getting a Boston Fern, also called a Sword Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis) I can personally recommend them.

I’ve had a couple over the years, and I really enjoy them. Mainly because they don’t require a lot of maintenance, that’s a key requirement for me keeping indoor plants.

They do their little part to help improve the air quality in your home, which is always welcome. They look great, and it’s good for our wellbeing to have plants to care for.

They tend to grow a bit thicker than other common indoor ferns. The wispy fronds are busy with lots of strands, so they are appealing to curious cats, that’s for sure.

Is Boston Fern Harmful to Cats?

Boston Ferns are not harmful or toxic to cats in any way, no.

This is confirmed by the ASPCA here. I also asked one of the botanists that work at my local garden center when I was there last time and he said the same thing.

Plus, I was already confident of this myself as I’ve had Boston Ferns and cats in the same home for a number of years.

One of my cats, Yngwie, definitely played with the fronds and nibbled on it on occasion too. (Don’t worry, I’d already checked it wasn’t toxic – I’m not an irresponsible cat owner!)

So, the good news is that you don’t have to worry about your fern making your cat sick.

This might not be your only problem though. The long fronds are actually enticing and hard to resist playing with for a lot of cats.

There came a point when I had to move mine to stop my cat playing with it and damaging it when I was out.

Be prepared to do something to discourage this behavior, if your cat is comfortable chewing on plants they might get a surprise when they bite the wrong plant in the future!

Which Ferns Are Toxic to Cats?

While the Boston Fern is harmless to us and our housepets, the same can’t be said for all ferns that are commonly kept indoors or around our homes.

Some ferns pose a serious threat in the way of toxicity, a few of the main ones to avoid are:

  • Asparagus Fern
  • Plumosa Fern
  • Emerald Feather
  • Australian Nut Fern
  • Sprengeri Fern
  • Shatavari Fern

If your kitty comes into contact with any of these you can expect signs of irritation to their tongue, mouth, throat, and anywhere else it’s come into contact with them.

With possible vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and prolonged skin irritation. I’ve seen the reaction from a cat that has come into contact with a mildly toxic plant before, and it’s not a pleasant sight.

She was pawing at her mouth and wretching within minutes. If you think your cat has come into contact with any form of toxic plant you should at least call your vet.

Or, you can call the Animal Poison Control hotline, also available on the ASPCA website.

Describe to them what’s happening, what plant it was, and act on their advice.

Some Non Toxic Plants for Cats

Some of the Plants That Are Toxic to Cats

Just because you have a cat at home, it doesn’t mean you can’t have some beautiful and exotic house plants.

Here are some of the common houseplants that will impress your friends and more importantly pose no threat to cats and dogs:

  • Bamboo
  • Christmas Cactus
  • American Rubber Plant
  • Hen and Chickens. Spider Plant, Ribbon Plants
  • Moth Orchids
  • Dwarf Date Palm

Some of the Plants That Are Toxic to Cats

Now you know which plants are safe, it also helps to know which plants you should avoid.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are some of the more common plants that are toxic to cats according to PetMD:

  • Amaryllis
  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons
  • Castor Bean
  • Daffodils
  • English Ivy
  • Hyacinth
  • Lily
  • Sago Palm
  • Tulip

I’m fond of tulips and lilies in particular from that list. It’s such a shame that they are so harmful to cats.

I get gifted them from time to time, I have to be super careful about where I keep them. Education and awareness is the key here. You’re doing the right thing by checking which plants are and aren’t safe for your kitties.

In Summary – Are Boston Ferns Poisonous to Cats?

Now you know – Boston Ferns are not poisonous or toxic to cats.

Whether or not you allow your cat to play with the fronds (which most cats can’t resist) is up to you. It’s just nice to know that there are no risks or dangers to be concerned about.

Houseplants and cats is an often overlooked topic. From speaking with follow cat owners, it’s an area that a lot of people don’t look into in great detail.

Don’t assume your cat isn’t going to lick or chew plants and flowers. And don’t assume that because a plant isn’t toxic to us, the same applies to cats.

Always run a quick check for each plant you have to be sure it doesn’t pose a toxic or poisonous threat to our curious four-legged felines.

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