The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) lists plants as one of the most common pet toxins
The ASPCA lists the popular Phalaenopsis orchid genus as non-toxic to both dogs and cats
There are over 25,000 species in the Orchidaceae family. While there aren’t reports of any species being seriously toxic to cats when ingested, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance that an unusual, untested species or hybrid could be problematic.
It’s worth noting that lady’s slipper orchids (Cypripedium spp.) are known to cause mild skin irritation in humans, so the same may be true for cats.
Even though orchids are nontoxic to cats, you don’t want your furry friend to be making a meal of them regularly. It will spoil the delicate beauty of these stunning plants, and ingesting too much vegetation isn’t good for these obligate carnivores. Eating any part of the orchid or other plant can trigger stomach upsets and vomiting in cats.
Another risk is that there could be herbicides or pesticides on the plant that are toxic to cats. You won’t know for sure what suppliers are using on their orchids. And, if your cat has a penchant for potting soil, this could contain toxic chemical fertilizer. When in doubt, repot your orchid into a fresh potting medium using a pet-safe organic fertilizer, such as fish emulsion.
Why Are Cats Attracted to Orchids?
Plant eating is common in domestic cats. Previously, experts hypothesized this often occurs when cats feel unwell and want to make themselves vomit. However, studies suggest it isn’t usually triggered by tummy upsets but is an instinctual behavior.
Some cats might just be drawn to the taste, fragrance, or falling petals of your orchids, and others may be nibbling on them for fun or to relieve boredom or stress.
How to Prevent Your Cat From Eating Your Orchid
If you don’t want your kitty killing off your cherished orchid, or any other carefully curated houseplants, it’s all about management and addressing underlying needs. Here are some ideas for protecting your plants from frisky felines:
Offer alternative enrichment: Investing in stimulating toys and puzzle feeders can help when you’re cat is eating plants out of boredom.
Cat-proof your plant: Cats are master acrobats, so putting your orchid on a high shelf might not be enough—and it could result in your cat dropping your delicate plant from a high height. Consider where your orchid can get the light it needs, but your cat can’t connect with it.
Get some cat grass: Redirect your plant-loving puss to more appropriate vegetation whenever they are showing interest in grazing on the petals of your orchid.
Help stressed cats to relax: Cats might chew on plants as a way to alleviate stress. If you think your cat is anxious, consider calling out a professional pet behaviorist. They can help you determine the stress triggers and how to help your cat feel more at ease.