The Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis) is a member of the Dryopteridaceae family of plants, and it is entirely non-toxic to both cats and dogs.
Even so, there are some safety considerations to keep in mind when housing a Boston fern. Most of them deal with the safety of the plant!
Keep Your Boston Fern Houseplant Out Of Reach
Even though it will not harm your cats and dogs by nibbling on your Boston fern, it may damage the plant. Too much canine and feline meddling can cause your plant to look ragged. It may even cause your plants’ demise.
Luckily, one of the best ways to keep this pretty fern is in a hanging basket. Hang your plant near (but not in) a sunny window where dogs can’t reach it and cats can’t jump in.
More on Caring for Boston Ferns here.
Discourage Your Pets
If you can’t hang your plant out of reach of your pets, you can spray the leaves with a vinegar and water mixture or a Bitter Apple product.
Don’t use cayenne or other peppery substances to discourage cats. If these substances get into your cats’ eyes, they could cause severe pain. Cats may claw their own eyes, trying to get burning cayenne out.
Of course, you can also tell your pet “no!” Accompanying this with a spritz from a spray bottle or water pistol may also help discourage chewing behavior.
Keep Your Pets Occupied
Cats and dogs are much less likely to bother your plants if they have plenty of toys of their own. Keep your pets busy with regular play and attention.
Satisfy Your Pets’ Need For Greens
Both cats and dogs need some greenery in their diets. Cat kibble formulated for indoor cats usually contains some greenery. Feeding this kind of product can help satisfy the urge for greens, and it helps control and prevent hairballs.
You can also redirect your cat away from your Boston fern and other plants by growing greenery specifically for the cat. Try sprouting wheatgrass seed for your cat.
You can also add wheatgrass to your dog’s diet in small amounts. Another way to meet your dog’s desire for greenery is to add a bit of canned green beans (drained and rinsed) to his food daily.
What if Eating Boston Fern Makes My Cat Vomit?
If your cat has hairball troubles, she will be very drawn to your Boston fern and other plants. Eating a lot of unaccustomed greenery will cause the animal to throw up, and that’s its goal.
Vomit doesn’t necessarily mean that the animal has been poisoned.
Cats eat greenery as self-medication to help them manage hairballs.
If you keep your cat brushed and feed a diet that provides some greenery regularly, you should seldom (if ever) encounter this problem.
Are All Ferns Non-Toxic?
Most (not all) ferns are non-toxic to cats and dogs, and all are subject to the same care precautions described above. Some other attractive, non-toxic ferns you may wish to add to your collection include:
- Royal Fern – Osmunda regalis
- Holly Fern – Cyrtomium falcatum
- Ostrich Fern – Matteuccia struthiopteris
- Staghorn Fern – Platycerium bifurcatum
- Cinnamon Fern – Osmunda cinnamomea
- Australian Sword Fern – Nephrolepis obliterata
Keep in mind that, even though these ferns are not toxic, they are also not considered edible.
Take proper precautions to prevent cats, dogs, kids, and livestock from having free access to Boston ferns and others. When consumed in large amounts, ferns of all sorts can be irritating and even carcinogenic.