Many animals, including cats and dogs, seem to instinctively avoid succulents. Perhaps it is the taste, or maybe the smell, that makes these plants unpalatable to animals.
Broadly speaking, succulents are safe for cats. However, some varieties can cause harm when ingested while some may cause skin irritation.
If you are a cat owner thinking of collecting succulents, here is a list of nine succulents that are safe for cats:
1. Black rose
Scientific name: Aeonium arboreum
Origin: Canary Islands
Common names: Black tree aeonium, Irish rose, tree houseleek
The black rose is a succulent that demands to be seen. And it can be pretty hard to ignore.
The rosettes of this succulent are glossy and have leaves that are dark purple. Kept in partial shade, the leaves take on a reddish-purple color with a tinge of green. Grown outdoors with ample sunlight, the plant’s leaves turn dark, becoming almost black.
Although the plant needs to be watered more frequently, compared to other succulents, it is a resilient plant that can be kept outdoors or indoors in containers.
Pests rarely infest the black rose. Plus, it is resistant to deer and can tolerate salt.
2. Prickly pear cactus
Scientific name: Opuntia
Origin: Mexico, American Southwest, Latin America
Common names: Tuna, nopal, sabra, paddle cactus
The prickly pear cactus has distinctive fleshy pads which are actually modified stems and branches. These pads perform different functions for the plant. These functions include flower production, water storage, and photosynthesis.
The plant is safe for both cats and their humans. In fact, both the fruits and pads of the plant are eaten. The fruits of the Opuntia are often sold as tuna, while the pads are sold as nopalito.
The prickly pear cactus has gained fame for its purported health benefits. The plant is touted as a treatment for hangovers, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The plant is also an excellent source of fiber, carotenoids, and antioxidants.
3. Living stones
Scientific name: Lithops
Origin: southern Africa
Common names: pebble plants
Lithops are curious-looking succulents that look like stones or miniature hoof prints. Found in their original desert habitats, living stones can be hard to detect due to their ability to blend with the environment.
An individual plant consists of two leaves that are fused. These leaves act primarily as water storage for the plant. African children sometimes use the plant as a water source.
The plant is a popular indoor plant, in part due to its unique appearance, and its minimal care requirements. It is known to live up to 50 years.
4. Hens and chicks
Scientific name: Sempervivum tectorum
Origin: northern Africa, southern Europe
Common names: hen-and-chickens, hen-widdies, houseleek
The hens and chicks plant is a perennial favorite among new and seasoned succulent collectors.
Its name is derived from its clusters of rosettes. The larger or parent rosettes are called hens, while the smaller ones are called chicks.
This succulent can self-propagate and comes in different shapes, colors, and textures.
The hens and chicks succulent is a hardy plant that requires minimal care. It thrives under the full sun but it can be kept in partial shade. But compared to other succulents, it prefers to have ample space to sprawl.
5. Zebra Haworthia
Scientific name: Haworthia fasciata
Origin: South Africa
Common names: Zebra plant
The zebra plant is another popular succulent that cat owners might want to add to their collections.
The plant is ideal for beginners because it can be grown indoors, with minimal care. It is also commonly used in arrangements.
Additionally, the plant is easy to propagate. All you have to do is to pull the offsets that sprout around the plant. Once the offsets are dry, these can be replanted in containers.
The succulent is often mistaken as Aloe which is toxic to pets. However, the zebra plant is safe for cats.
6. Christmas Cactus
Scientific name: Schlumbergera bridgesii
Christmas cacti can refer to any of the cacti that bloom near the holidays. These include the Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and the Easter cactus.
The Christmas cactus can be distinguished from the other holiday cacti with its flat leaves which are outlined by rounded teeth.
As the holidays near, the plant will produce brightly colored plants that come in a variety of colors, including yellow, red, pink, purple, white, and orange.
Unlike other succulents, this plant prefers high humidity and frequent watering. In its native home of Brazil, it is found attached to branches of trees in the rainforest.
7. Burro’s tail
Scientific name: Sedum morganianum
Origin: Honduras, Mexico
Common names: donkey tail
The burro’s or donkey tail is not one of those easy to care for succulents, making it a bad choice for newbies.
Although the burro’s tail is part of the Sedum family that is known for its hardiness, the plant is fragile. It frequently drops leaves, even with the slightest touch.
But if you are willing to face the challenge, you will be rewarded with an absolutely stunning plant that can be planted either in containers or hanging baskets.
The plant got its moniker for its characteristic long stems as well as its fleshy leaves which look like large grains of rice.
8. Chenille plant
Scientific name: Echeveria pulvinata
Common names: Plush plant, ruby blush, red velvet, ruby slippers
Also known as ruby blush, the chenille plant is characterized by its bright and fuzzy green leaves which are outlined by pink to red edges.
Looking closely at the leaves, you will notice that these have white hairs. These hairs help protect the plant from excessive water loss.
The Chenille plant grows up a foot but spreads out, covering a fewl feet as it sprawls. It produces a red-orange flower between late winter and early spring.
Origin: Southern Africa
Common names: Ox tongue, lawyer’s tongue
The Gasteria derives its name from the Latin word for stomach. It got that name because its flowers are stomach-shaped.
The plant is a close relative of both Aloe and Haworthia.
Because it prefers low light and cool temperatures, the plant is a perfect houseplant. It can be planted outdoors but must be put in a sheltered area.
There are 42 species of the plant. But apart from these, there are eight hybrids which are fairly accessible to collectors. There are also a few hybrids that are uncommon or rare which serious collectors seek.