Are Bonsai Trees Poisonous to Cats? 5 Cat-Safe Bonsai Trees

| Updated: June 5, 2023
Trimmed and maintained bonsai tree

Bonsai trees are miniature versions of larger trees that are grown in pots and shaped by pruning and wiring. They are popular as ornamental plants and can add a touch of nature and beauty to any indoor or outdoor space. However, if you have a cat at home, you might be wondering: are bonsai trees poisonous to cats?

There is no straightforward answer. Some bonsai trees are nontoxic plants and pose no threat to your feline friend, while others can be harmful or even deadly if ingested. It all depends on the species of tree that has been bonsaied, and sometimes which part of the tree your cat ate.

This article will explore the best and worst bonsai trees for cats, the symptoms of poisoning, and what to do if your cat eats a toxic bonsai tree. We will also give you some tips on preventing your cat from nibbling on your bonsai trees and choosing safe and suitable plants for your home.

Why Do Cats Eat Bonsai Trees?

Cats are curious creatures and they like to explore their environment with their senses, including their mouth. They may chew on plants for various reasons, such as boredom, stress, dental problems, nutritional deficiencies, or simply because they like the taste or texture.

However, cats do not have a good sense of what is edible and what is not. Go figure. They may not realize that some plants can be dangerous for them and cause serious health issues. Therefore, it is up to us as responsible pet owners to provide them with a safe and stimulating environment that does not expose them to any risks.

What Are the Symptoms of Bonsai Tree Poisoning in Cats?

The symptoms of bonsai tree poisoning in cats can vary depending on the type and amount of the plant ingested, as well as the size and health of the cat. Some common signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Some bonsai trees can also cause specific symptoms depending on the toxic chemicals they contain. For example, azalea bonsai can cause cardiac arrhythmias, low blood pressure, and slow heart rate; sago palm tree can cause liver failure and bleeding disorders; and ficus bonsai can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat after eating a bonsai tree, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Bonsai tree poisoning can be life-threatening and requires prompt medical attention.

What Are the Best Bonsai Trees for Cats?

If you love both cats and bonsai trees, you don’t have to give up on either one. There are some bonsai trees that are safe for cats and will not harm them if they nibble on them. Some of the best bonsai trees for cats are:

  • Japanese maple: This is a deciduous tree that has beautiful red or green leaves that change color in autumn. It is non-toxic to cats and other pets and can tolerate indoor conditions well.
  • Money tree: This tropical tree has shiny green leaves and braided stems. It is non-toxic to cats and other pets and can bring good luck and prosperity to your home.
  • Jade plant: This succulent plant has thick green leaves and pink or white flowers. It is non-toxic to cats and other pets and can store water in its leaves, making it drought-tolerant.
  • Hawthorn: A flowering tree has white or pink blossoms in spring and red berries in winter. It is non-toxic to cats and other pets and can attract birds and butterflies to your garden.
  • Olive tree: An evergreen tree that has silvery-green leaves and produces edible olives. It is non-toxic to cats and other pets and can symbolize peace and wisdom.

These are some examples of cat-friendly bonsai trees you can grow at home. However, you should always research before buying any plant and ensure it is not toxic to your cat or any other pet you have.

What Are the Worst Bonsai Trees for Cats?

On the other hand, there are some bonsai trees that are toxic to cats and should be avoided at all costs. Some of the worst bonsai trees for cats are:

  • Azalea bonsai: A flowering shrub that has colorful blooms in spring and summer. It is toxic to cats and other pets and can cause severe gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems if ingested.
  • Sago palm tree: This is a palm-like plant that has feathery leaves and produces brown seeds. It is toxic to cats and other pets and can cause liver failure, bleeding disorders, and death if ingested.
  • Ficus bonsai: This tropical tree has glossy green leaves and aerial roots. It is toxic to cats and other pets and can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and gastrointestinal problems if ingested.
  • Lantana bonsai: A flowering plant that has clusters of yellow, orange, red, or purple flowers. It is toxic to cats and other pets and can cause liver damage, photosensitivity, and neurological problems if ingested.
  • Boxwood bonsai: This is an evergreen shrub that has small green leaves and yellow flowers. It is toxic to cats and other pets and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, and seizures if ingested.

These are just some examples of cat-toxic bonsai trees that you should never grow at home. However, there are many more plants that can be harmful to your cat, so you should always check the toxicity level of any plant before bringing it into your home.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Eating Bonsai Trees?

Even if you choose nontoxic bonsai trees for your home, you may still want to prevent your cat from eating them. This is because some plants can cause digestive upset or choking hazards for your cat or damage your bonsai trees by breaking their branches or digging their soil.

There are some steps you can take to discourage your cat from chewing on your bonsai trees, such as:

  • Place your bonsai trees out of reach of your cat: Use high shelves, hanging baskets, or closed cabinets to keep your bonsai trees away from your cat’s paws and mouth. However, be careful not to place them near windows or vents where they can get too much or too little sunlight or air.
  • Spray your bonsai trees with a repellent: There are commercial sprays or you can make your own with natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or cayenne pepper. These substances have a strong smell or taste that cats dislike and will deter them from approaching your bonsai trees. However, be careful not to spray too much or too often, as it can damage your plants or irritate your cat’s nose or eyes.
  • Provide your cat with alternative plants: You can grow some cat-friendly plants such as catnip, cat grass, mint, or parsley for your cat to chew on instead of your bonsai trees. These plants are nontoxic and beneficial for your cat’s health and well-being. They can also satisfy your cat’s need for greens and fiber and help them expel hairballs.
  • Enrich your cat’s environment: Provide your cat with toys, scratching posts, hiding places, perches, and interactive games to keep them entertained and stimulated. This way, they will be less likely to get bored or stressed and resort to chewing on your bonsai trees.


Bonsai trees are beautiful plants that can enhance any space with their elegance and charm. However, if you have a cat at home, you must be careful about the type of bonsai tree you choose and how you display it.

Some bonsai trees are poisonous to cats and can cause serious health problems if ingested. Others are safe for cats but may still cause some minor issues or damage your plants. Therefore, you need to research before buying any bonsai tree and ensure it is suitable for your home.

You also need to take some precautions to prevent your cat from eating your bonsai trees. You can place them out of reach of your cat, spray them with a repellent, provide your cat with alternative plants, and enrich your cat’s environment.

By following these tips, you can enjoy the beauty of bonsai trees without compromising your cat’s safety!

More Cat Health

If you’re looking for more tips and tricks to keep your favorite feline healthy, check out our cat health section!

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Shayna Easton
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