Can cats eat ferns?

If you have some ferns growing in your garden and your cat often goes around it, you might think, “Can cats eat ferns?” This article will explore some facts regarding if ferns are poisonous to cats, what happens if a cat eats ferns and how to know if your cat has fern poisoning. 

Can cats eat ferns?

Yes, cats can eat ferns because many of the ferns are harmless to cats. But you should take notes on true ferns and the plants that look similar to the ferns. The latter can be poisonous and toxic for your cat. Here is the list of the true ferns that can not cause any potential harm to your cat’s health:

  • Bird’s nest Fern
  • Maidenhair Fern
  • Boston Fern
  • Sword Fern
  • Button Fern
  • Carrot Fern
  • Rabbit’s Foot Fern
  • Staghorn Fern
  • Mother Fern 

Though these plants are not harmful to your cats, eating enormous amounts of these plants can cause unpleasant health concerns. Cats who ingest too much of them suffer from upset stomachs and other gastrointestinal problems. However, some plants resemble ferns and eating those can cause trouble for your cat.

 Can ferns be poisonous to cats?

Most of the ferns are not toxic for cats, but some of them are. For example, according to the ASPCA, ferns like sprengeri ferns and emerald ferns are kept in houses, but these ferns are unhealthy and can be dangerous for cats if eaten in larger quantities. They can cause inflammation in your cat if ingested repeatedly.

The leaves of wispy plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain in your cat. Other plants that resemble ferns (e.g., winter ferns, foxtail ferns, and hemlock ferns) can be toxic for cats. They can cause gastrointestinal problems and dermatitis in your cats. 

What happens if a cat eats ferns?

Toxic ferns like Asparagus Ferns contain an agent known as a sapogenin. It is a form of steroid that is found in those poisonous plants.

There is usually nothing to worry about if your cat has ingested some true ferns. Even if it eats too many of them, it will suffer from a slight gastrointestinal illness like diarrhea and vomiting. They might cause some abdominal pain, but it is not toxic. 

However, you should look for similar plants that look like ferns. Those can be a severe danger to your pet. You should look into your garden to find those invaders and remove them from your lawn to keep your pet safe.

How to know if your cat has fern poisoning?

If your cat has nibbled in toxic ferns like Asparagus Fern, the symptoms can be some of the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Change in breath pattern
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swelling, blisters, and inflammation ( if your cat’s skin comes in contact with the plant)

Although the symptoms may vary from cat to cat, they can range from mild to severe. It all depends on the amount of fern your cat has ingested.

How is fern poisoning treated in cats?

You do not need to get your cat to the emergency instantly after it has eaten ferns. It is not a severe medical problem. Just keep your cat under your strict observation. And if any of the symptoms pop up, you can contact your vet and take your kitty to the clinic if needed. 

In case of the ingestion of toxic ferns, your kitty needs immediate medical attention to regain its strength to recover from the poisoning. If you don’t know if that fern was poisonous or not, you can bring the sample to the clinic and confirm there.

 There is also an option to find the name of that fern using the photo. From there, you can search if that fern species is toxic for cats or not. 

Your vet will give topical ointments to apply on your cat’s skin to avoid irritation and dermatitis. In case of vomiting and diarrhea, intravenous fluids will be injected to retain the average body fluid volume and electrolyte balance. 

Can I keep ferns in my garden if I have a cat?

Always ask your vet if the fern you are growing in your garden is poisonous to your cat if not. The types mentioned above of ferns are safe to keep in your garden, and eating them will not cause any health hazards to your cat. You can also use baskets to hang the ferns to make them out of reach of your cat.


This article discussed “Can cats eat ferns?” Here we also explored some facts regarding if ferns are poisonous to cats, what happens if a cat eats ferns and how to know if your cat has fern poisoning. 

Cats can eat ferns but in small quantities. Usually, ferns are not poisonous for cats but keep an eye on your furry if it is ingesting ferns in larger amounts.


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