Cat Palm


The Cat Palm (Chamaedorea cataractarum) is also called a Cascade Palm or Cataract Palm. Cat Palms are native to southeastern Mexico and resemble the inexpensive Areca Palm and the very pricey Kentia Palm. During Victorian times, having a Cat Palm in your home indicated that you were high up on the social ladder. These plants were often displayed in the windows of homes so everyone passing by would know that a rich and respected person lived there.

Cat Palm Description

Although in its native environment a Cat Palm can grow as tall as 6ft (1.8m) and have a width up to 8ft (2.4m), indoors a Cat Palm is a slow growing, smaller plant eventually reaching a height of about 4-6ft (1.22m-1.8m). This compact, bushy, airy plant doesn’t have a trunk like some other indoor palms. The bright green, pinnate (feather like) fronds grow in a clump-like fashion off thin shoots. The fronds are made up of leaflets that can be 1ft (30cm) long and 1” (2.5cm) wide.

Quick Care Tips for a Cat Palm

Place in bright light, but no direct sun.

Keep the soil barely moist, never allow the soil to totally dry out.

Too much plant food is worse than too little.

Provide high humidity, dry air can severely damage a cat palm.

Avoid placing a Cat Palm near air conditioners, cold drafts, or heaters.

Cat Palm Problems and Causes

Yellow fronds:  Underwatering

Brown fronds:  Overwatering

Brown leaf tips: Dry air due to low humidity, using water from a water softener, or using water with a lot of fluorine or chlorine in it


A Cat Palm is an easy care, attractive plant that is safe to have around pets and children. An added plus, most palm plants have been shown to clean the air of harmful pollutants.



I Bought a Cat Palm and It Was Pretty Tall So I Repotted It as Soon as Brought It Home. It’s About Three Weeks Now and the Plant Looks Awful. What Should I Do?

You should never repot a palm until its roots have filled the existing pot. These plants really like to be root bound. I’d put it back into its original small pot, keep it moist but not soggy, and place it in good indirect bright light. It should start to recover. Also, wait at least 6 weeks before re-potting a new plant tallow it to get used to its new surroundings.

I Know Cat Palms Don’t Like Much Plant Food, but How Do I Know When to Feed My Cat Palm?

Plants like to be fed when they are actively growing in the spring and summer. When you do feed a palm be sure to dilute the food to 1/2 the recommended strength and only feed once a month. If the fronds start to turn yellow, this may indicate that the plant needs more nitrogen, magnesium, or potassium.

Why Are the Tips of the Fronds on My Cat Palm Turning Brown?

There are several possible causes: too much salt or fluoride in the water you are using or too much fertilizer buildup in the soil. Low humidity coupled with minerals in the water can also cause tip burn.