Bamboo Plants at Home? Find Out If They Pose a Risk to Your Cat's Health


Sep. 21 2023, Published 3:56 p.m. ET

A cat laying on a chair next to bamboo.
Source: iStock

Bamboo symbolizes wealth, happiness, and longevity in ancient Chinese culture. That’s why people often have a “lucky bamboo” plant as a decoration in their home or office. But if your cat decides to nibble on that plant, they may not be so lucky. It could make them very sick.

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Is bamboo toxic to cats? The answer really depends on the type of bamboo — or bamboo-like plant. Let’s explore what bamboos may be OK, and which ones can be toxic for your feline friend.

A grey cat chewing on a plant.
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Is bamboo toxic to cats?

True bamboo is not toxic to cats. According to The Practical Planter, there are over 1,000 species of true bamboo that range from dwarf size to 100 feet tall. Most of the true bamboo species are not toxic to cats.

A few of the bamboo species that are safe for cats include:

  • Golden bamboo

  • Fish pole bamboo

  • Bamboo vine

  • Good luck palm

  • Reed palm

  • Bamboo palm.

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However, that “lucky bamboo” houseplant you bought at the store or received as a gift isn’t really bamboo, and it can be very harmful to your cat if they ingest it.

A lucky bamboo plant.
Source: iStock
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What plants are toxic to cats? Stay away from lucky bamboo.

Lucky bamboo, known as Dracaena sanderiana, is actually more like a lily rather than true bamboo because it can grow in water versus soil, which is where true bamboo grows, per The Practical Planter. It isn’t even related to true bamboo.

Most of the bamboo sold as houseplants are lucky bamboo plants that are very toxic to cats and other pets. The plants may also be referred to as a money tree, ribbon plant, dragon tree, corn plant, or cornstalk plant, according to Backyard Garden Lover.

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While it is rare that a cat will die from eating a lucky bamboo plant, it could make them very sick, and you should get them to a vet as soon as possible. Some signs of poisoning from a lucky bamboo plant include diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, seizures, excessive panting, weakness, respiratory distress, and loss of appetite.

The lucky bamboo is probably the most common bamboo lookalike that is toxic to cats, but there are others. For instance, heavenly bamboo, aka sacred bamboo or Nandina domestica, is poisonous to cats. According to Backyard Garden Lover, the shoots of a heavenly bamboo plant contain taxiphyllin, a substance that can cause cyanide poisoning in cats.

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A grey and white cat on a shelf next to plants.
Source: Getty Images

These other houseplants are also toxic to cats.

Cats love to chew on plants and flowers, so it’s important to know if you have plants in your home that may be toxic for your kitty. According to Preventative Vet, the following houseplants are toxic to cats:

  • Aloe

  • Amaryllis

  • Asparagus fern

  • Cyclamen

  • Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia)

  • Jade

  • Lilies

  • Cardboard palm (Cycads)

  • Snake plant (Sansevieria)

    • Sweetheart ivy
    • Monstera deliciosa.
  • Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias aren’t as toxic to cats and other pets as believed. Based on information from the Pet Poison Helpline, poinsettias are only “mildly” toxic to cats and dogs, and that poisoning by the popular Christmas plant is “greatly exaggerated.”

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