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Is Cat Palm Safe for Cats + Complete Care Guide

Cat Palm

Are you looking for a new addition to your indoor garden collection? Cat palm, also known as Cascade Palm or Cataract Palm, is a small palm plant that is easy to care for and adds a pop of green to any room.

The Cat palm, renowned for its lush fronds and graceful demeanor, has charmed its way into the hearts and homes of plant lovers around the world. Its botanical name, Chamaedorea cataractarum, pays homage to its delightful cascading appearance, resembling a verdant waterfall gently swaying in the breeze.

Originating from the rainforests of Mexico and Guatemala, this palm species has adapted beautifully to indoor environments, making it a sought-after choice for adding a touch of exotic allure to any space.

It is a small palm tree that can grow up to 6 to 8 feet tall and has lush clusters of big, green fronds that add a tropical touch to any indoor space.

This palm tree loves bright indirect light but does not handle direct sun exposure well since this can cause the leaves and foliage to burn. It’s generally a slow grower that features fluffy leaves and a short trunk to bright a jungle oasis feel in your own home.

The clustering palm has practically no trunk, but only a dense clump of stems covered with feathery fronds. They look great in a well lit office, study, kitchen, or even bathroom. In this article, you will learn how to plant, grow, and care for cat palm and keep it healthy for years to come.

Chamaedorea Cataractarum

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Botanical Name: Chamaedorea cataractarum

Common Name: Cat palm, cascade palm, cataract palm

Family: Cat palm

Plant Type: Palm tree

Hardiness Zones: 9 – 11 (USDA)

Sun Exposure: Partial to full shade

Soil Type: Well-draining

Soil pH: Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline (pH 6.0-7.5)

Height: Up to 6 – 8 feet

Spacing: 4 – 6 feet

Native Area: Central America

Cat Palm Tree Care

Cat palms are a popular houseplant due to their attractive appearance and easy care requirements. These plants are native to southern Mexico and require a warm temperatures and high humidity to thrive.

Cat palms are truly a delight to have around. Their lush, feathery fronds add a touch of tropical elegance to any indoor space. I’ve found that they thrive in areas with bright, indirect light, making them perfect for those cozy corners or spots with filtered sunlight. It’s important to strike a balance though, as direct sunlight can scorch their delicate leaves.

Now, let’s talk about watering. I’ve learned that Cat palms appreciate consistently moist soil. I make sure to keep the soil evenly moist, but not overly saturated. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it’s crucial to allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out between waterings. It’s a delicate dance, finding that sweet spot of just the right amount of water.

Humidity is another factor to consider. These palms are accustomed to higher humidity levels in their native habitats, so I try to mimic those conditions in my home. Occasionally misting the fronds or placing the plant on a pebble tray filled with water helps to create a more humid microclimate around the plant.


Cat palm loves bright indirect sunlight. This plant is not suitable for direct sunlight as it can burn its leaves and cause irreparable damage.

Place the plant near a window that receives bright but filtered light, or use artificial grow lights. If you notice that the plant is turning yellow or brown, it may not be receiving enough light. Consider moving the plant to a brighter location.


The ideal soil for cat palm should be well-draining and slightly acidic. A mixture of peat moss and perlite or vermiculite works well.

Avoid using heavy, clay soils or potting mixes with large chunks of bark, which can retain too much moisture and lead to root rot. C

at palms are sensitive to salt build-up in the soil, so it is important to flush the soil every few months to remove any excess salts.


Cat palm prefers consistently moist soil, but do not overwater it. Let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering again, but do not allow the plant to dry out completely.

Make sure the pot has good drainage. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which is a common problem with cat palms. If you notice that the plant is drooping or the leaves are turning brown, it may not be getting enough or too much water. Adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

It’s also best to use rain water or distilled water since tap water contains chemicals like fluroide which can burn the sensitive root system of your cat palm. This can lead to yellowing palm fronds and brown leaf tips.

Cascade Palm

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Temperature and Humidity

Cat palm thrives in warm and humid environments with temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the plant away from chilly drafts, air conditioning, and heating vents.

In order to maintain the right moisture levels, I find it helpful to mist the leaves regularly, use a pebble tray filled with water below the pot, or place a humidifier nearby. It’s essential to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.

Cat palms are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so it is important to keep them in a stable environment.


Feed cat palm with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) is best. Use one made for indoor palms and dilute the fertilizer to half strength to avoid burning the roots.

Do not fertilize during the winter, as the plant is dormant. Cat palms are not heavy feeders, so avoid over-fertilizing, which can lead to salt build-up in the soil.

Is Cat Palm Safe for Cats?

As a pet owner, you may be wondering whether cat palm is safe for your furry friend.

The good news is that cat palm is non-toxic to cats and dogs, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). This means that if your pet accidentally ingests a few leaves or other plant parts, they are unlikely to suffer from any serious health problems.

However, it is still a good idea to keep the plant out of your pet’s reach. Ingesting large quantities of leaves or other plant parts can cause gastric upset or other health problems, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or even liver failure in severe cases.

In rare situations, digesting it too much can lead to obstruction in your cat’s GI tract. If you notice continued vomiting, lack of appetite or lethargy, take your cat to see a vet immediately.

Are All Palm Trees Safe for Cats?

Even though cat palm is generally safe for cats, you might be wondering what about other pam trees? In general, all true palms for safe for cats. But a group of palm lookalikes are an issue.

This cyclad group are toxic to plants because they are laced with cycasin which can cause liver failure or even death. Vomiting, excessive thirst, diarrhea, tremors, changes in behavior, and liver failure are all symptoms of poisining from palms in the cycad group, according to the ASPCA.

This group includes sago palm (cycas revoluta), which is toxic to pets and is often mistaken for cat palm. Always remember to keep an eye out for symptoms of cat poisoning and identify your plant correctly to avoid any issues.

Cataract Palm

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

How to Plant Cat Palm

  1. Choose a pot that is one size up from the current pot of the plant. This will give the plant more room to grow and prevent it from becoming root-bound.
  2. Fill the new pot with fresh potting mix, leaving about an inch of space at the top. You want to make sure there is enough room for water to sit on top of the soil without overflowing.
  3. Carefully remove the plant from its old pot and loosen the roots if they are tightly packed. This will encourage the roots to spread out and grow into the new soil.
  4. Place the plant in the new pot and fill in the gaps with additional potting mix. Gently press the soil around the plant roots to stabilize it. You want to make sure the plant is firmly in place and not wobbling around.
  5. Water the plant thoroughly, allowing the excess water to drain out of the pot. This will help settle the soil around the roots and ensure that the plant is hydrated.
  6. After planting, it’s important to keep the plant in a bright, indirect location. Direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause them to turn brown.
  7. During the first few weeks after planting, make sure to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. You don’t want the plant to sit in water, as this can lead to root rot.
  8. Once the plant has settled into its new home, you can resume your regular care routine. This includes watering when the soil feels dry to the touch and fertilizing every few months with a balanced houseplant fertilizer.

With proper care, your cat palm will thrive and adorn your home for years to come. Not only will it add a touch of green to your space, but it will also help purify the air and create a more relaxing environment. Enjoy your new plant!

How to Propagate Cat Palm

If you want to expand your cat palm collection or share it with friends, you can propagate the plant using its offshoots.

Propagating cat palms is a simple process that can be done at any time of the year, but keep in mind that plant propagation by stem cuttings can be a slow process so patience is key when propagating this type of palm.

Here are the steps to propagate your cat palm:

  1. Look for a small plantlet growing at the base of the parent plant. The plantlet should have its own roots and leaves.
  2. Use a sharp knife to cut the plantlet from the parent plant, making sure to also cut through its root system. Be careful not to damage the parent plant or the plantlet’s roots.
  3. Plant the plantlet in a small pot filled with fresh potting mix, leaving the top of the plant’s root ball level with the surface of the soil. Gently press the soil around the plantlet to secure it in place.
  4. Water the plantlet thoroughly and place it in bright but indirect light. Avoid placing the plantlet in direct sunlight, as this can damage its delicate leaves.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Cat Palm

While cat palms are known for their resilience and low-maintenance nature, they are still susceptible to certain pests and diseases.

It is important to be aware of these potential issues so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent them from harming your plant.

Spider Mites

Red Spider Mites

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Spider mites are tiny pests that can be difficult to detect with the naked eye. They are known for their ability to spin webs on the undersides of leaves, which can lead to discoloration and leaf drop.

To prevent spider mites from infesting your cat palm, make sure to keep the humidity levels in your home at a moderate level. You can also use insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat any existing infestations.


Mealybugs on Plant

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Mealybugs are another common pest that can affect cat palms. These small, white insects feed on the sap of the plant and can cause stunted growth and yellowing of the leaves.

To prevent mealybugs from infesting your cat palm, make sure to inspect your plant regularly and remove any visible bugs with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also use insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat any existing infestations.

Scale Insects

Scale Insects

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Scale insects are small, oval-shaped pests that can be found on the stems and leaves of cat palms. They feed on the sap of the plant and can cause yellowing of the leaves and stunted growth.

To prevent scale insects from infesting your cat palm, make sure to keep the humidity levels in your home at a moderate level. You can also use insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat any existing infestations. Cat palm is also susceptible to aphids.

Fungal Diseases

Overwatering or allowing the soil to stay moist for too long can lead to fungal diseases like root rot. This can cause the roots of your cat palm to rot and eventually lead to the death of the plant. To prevent fungal diseases from affecting your cat palm, make sure to allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. You can also use a well-draining potting mix to prevent water from accumulating in the soil.

By being aware of these common pests and plant diseases, you can ensure that your cat palm remains healthy and vibrant for years to come. Remember to inspect your plant regularly and take the necessary steps to prevent and treat any issues that may arise.

Other Palm Tree Guides from Planet Natural:

20 Most Popular Types of Palm Trees for Homeowners

How to Plant and Grow Foxtail Palm (Complete Guide)