If you have cats or are considering adding one to your home, you are likely concerned about how they will affect your plants, and how your plants could affect them. Many popular houseplants are toxic to cats, so it’s important to know which ones are safe and which ones aren’t. So, is your bamboo toxic to cats?
Yes and no. There are many species of plants that are called bamboo that isn’t actually true bamboo species. All species of true bamboo from the family Bambusea are non-toxic to dogs and cats, but plants like lucky bamboo and heavenly bamboo are mildly toxic.
There are over 1000 species of true bamboo and none of them are toxic to pets. However, when choosing a bamboo species to keep as a houseplant or as an outdoor accent, you will want to make sure you choose a species that is non-invasive.
There are several species of bamboo that are highly invasive and are even known to send runners through concrete. The most invasive species is fishpole bamboo, also known as golden bamboo. Once it gets into your yard, it is very hard to eradicate and can even damage your home’s foundation.
Some species that make great houseplants are Seabreeze bamboo, punting pole bamboo, and my personal favorite, Buddha’s belly bamboo. There are lots of species to choose from though, so feel free to do some research and find the best bamboo for your space. Keep in mind that clumping bamboos tend to be better houseplants and are less prone to becoming invasive than species that send out runners.
The plant you are most likely to see labelled as bamboo is lucky bamboo. These plants make great houseplants and are generally very easy to care for. You can usually buy them either naturally grown, curled, or braided together. While it is called bamboo, lucky bamboo is actually a type of Dracaena, which means it is related to snake plants and dragon trees.
Lucky bamboo is thought to bring good luck and money to its owners, especially when given as a gift. If you are considering giving lucky bamboo as a gift, or if you have received it as a gift, there is actually meaning to how many stalks you receive.
If you are giving or receiving two stalks of bamboo, it can actually have two meanings; one is that of love, and the other is double luck. Be careful when giving two that your intent isn’t misconstrued.
If you are giving 3 stalks, it is said to bring happiness, money, and promote long life. This is a great amount to give to most friends and family.
Giving 5 stalks is perfect for your friends or family that are starting a new business or looking to get a promotion. 5 stalks represent money and luck in business.
Unfortunately, lucky bamboo is not lucky for cats. While lucky bamboo is only mildly toxic to animals, it is still best to prevent your pets from eating it. Try keeping it on a high shelf or even at your desk at work to be safe.
Preventing Your Cat From Eating Bamboo
If you are dead set on keeping lucky bamboo within reach of your cats, or if you don’t want them chewing on your favorite true bamboo species, we have a few tips and tricks that should help.
Know your cat
Knowing your cat’s personality is one of the first steps to any healthy cat/plant relationship. We have 6 cats in our house, 4 are obsessed with plants, and 2 couldn’t care less. If you have a cat that ignores your plants, you are likely fine having mildly toxic plants throughout your house. Just keep an eye on your feline friends to be sure they don’t have a change of heart.
If your cat is more like my other 4 cats, you are in for more of a challenge. Try keeping toxic plants out of reach or in rooms your cats don’t go in.
Get plants for your cats
Cats have a natural urge to chew on plants, both as a way of marking their territory and to aid in digestion. Giving your cat their own plants to chew on can definitely help keep their instincts satisfied and keep your houseplants safe from their sharp teeth.
Some great choices for cat plants are cat grass, catnip, and most popular herbs. It’s good to have a few containers of whatever plant you want to keep your cat occupied with so you can rotate them out before they are completely destroyed and give the plants a chance to grow back.
If you want to grow catnip for your cats, keep in mind that it is only good for cats over a year old. Kittens are often repulsed by the smell and can develop an aversion to it if they are given it too young.
For some strange reason, cats hate aluminum foil. This means that you can use strategically placed aluminum foil to keep your plants safe from feline chewers. Place it over the soil on your pots if your cats tend to be diggers, or place it on the surfaces around your pot to keep your cats from approaching. Personally, I haven’t had a ton of luck with this method, but I have several friends who swear by this method.
Double Sided Tape
This is the deterrent that works the best for me. Cats hate the feeling of tape on their feet. So placing double-sided tape around your plants and in areas you don’t want them to reach can keep them off and in some cases even train them to avoid the area.
We have several terrariums in our house and having double-sided tape on top of them has taught our cats to stay away. It does seem to be less effective for training in areas where the cats can see the tape and know when you stop using it.
Keep Plants out of Reach
A sure-fire way to keep your plants safe from your cats is to keep them out of reach. Place them on shelves or in hanging baskets that are higher up than your cat can jump. We have several plants on top of our bookshelves and use macrame planters throughout the house for our more sensitive plants.