Advertisement

Plants and your cat

Plants and your cat
NILS JACOBI/GETTY IMAGES

Plants can bring a room to life, and that’s likely what you’re thinking about when you buy them. But if you’re a pet parent, it’s important to double-check whether an indoor plant is toxic before bringing it into your home – or if these toxic plants are already in your home. In minor cases, plants toxic to cats can cause gastro upset or skin irritation, but in serious cases, it can lead to organ failure, seizures or even death.

Cats nibble on plants to get extra nutrients and fibre, just like humans do, but unfortunately, they don’t always know the difference between bad plants and good plants. For that reason, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your feline doesn’t have access to any house plants poisonous to cats. With expert help, we’ve outlined some of the most common house plants every cat owner should avoid – and provided some suggestions for the perfect non-toxic replacements.

What to do if your cat chews or eats toxic plants

What to do if your cat chews or eats toxic plants
KSENIÂ SOLOV'EVA/GETTY IMAGES

If you suspect that your cat has chewed on or ingested a potentially toxic plant in your home or garden, Dr Zacharias recommends taking a picture of the plant and immediately heading to your veterinarian. It does not matter the quantity they consumed – it is better to be safe because the repercussions can be that dire. Plus, the plant does not have to be ingested in order to be poisonous. Simply chewing on the plant can be toxic. A poisons’ hotline can be called en route to the vet or once the cat has arrived. How quickly treatment is started often makes a significant difference in the patient’s health and outcome.

You shouldn’t attempt to induce vomiting in a cat, no matter what you’ve read on the Internet. A veterinarian’s expertise is needed here.

It’s also important to note that cats are very skilled at hiding their symptoms – it’s a defence mechanism that keeps them safe. Call your vet or your local poisons’ hotline if you suspect that your cat has eaten one of these poisonous plants below, even if they aren’t acting overtly sick. That said, symptoms such as diarrhoea, lethargy and vomiting are all difficult to hide, so be on the lookout for those signs.

And if you are also a dog parent, here are 15 plants that are poisonous to dogs.

Peace lily (spathiphyllum)

Peace lily (spathiphyllum)
HELIN LOIK-TOMSON/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic components: Insoluble calcium oxalates

This indoor plant may be beautiful, but it is highly toxic – even life-threatening – to cats, says veterinarian Shelly Zacharias. “Lab work, including blood and urine, will be checked at various times over a span of several days [if your cat consumes lilies],” says Dr Zachararias. “Depending on these results, the veterinarian will discuss a monitoring plan for kidney function or long-term therapy, if needed.”

Swap it: In lieu of lilies, opt for a white orchid. They’re non-toxic to pets, gorgeous and surprisingly easy to take care of.

Eucalyptus (myrtaceae)

Eucalyptus (myrtaceae)
REFAT MAMUTOV/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic component: Eucalyptol

Popular for its fragrant, mind-soothing leaves, the pale green eucalyptus plant should be kept out of reach from cats. “When a cat consumes enough eucalyptus leaves to get sick, we expect to see signs like drooling, vomiting, decreased appetite and diarrhoea,” says veterinarian Jo Myers. “Those symptoms are expected to be relatively minor and to go away without any specific treatment within 24 hours.” She adds that even higher concentrations of eucalyptol are found in eucalyptus essential oils, so be mindful when using these products.

Swap it: Rosemary, which is also known for its wonderful scent, is an excellent replacement for eucalyptus.

If you’re allergic to cats but still adore them, you’ll definitely want to check out 8 hypoallergenic cats for people with allergies.

Sago palm (cycadaceae)

Sago palm (cycadaceae)
JENNY DETTRICK/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic component: Cycasin

Palms add wonderful lushness and tropical vibes to a room, but not all are pet-friendly. The sago cycad contains cycasin, which is extremely toxic to cats. It should be completely avoided, as it can cause dangerous gastrointestinal and liver damage, and in some cases even death. The smaller the pet, the more greatly they’ll be impacted.

Swap it: For a similar tropical vibe, try the parlor palm instead. It’s a breezy, bright green plant that’s also known as the bamboo palm or good luck palm.

Elephant’s ear (alocasia)

Elephant’s ear (alocasia)
MALKOVSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic components: Insoluble calcium oxalates

It’s leafy and exotic-looking, so it’s no wonder that the alocasia is such a popular houseplant. Unfortunately, it’s a no-go if you have a cat because it contains insoluble calcium oxalates that cause kidney failure.

Swap it: The calathea medallion offers the same tropical vibes and rich green foliage that the alocasia does, but it’s completely safe for your kitty. It is also a low-maintenance plant that even those without a green thumb can keep healthy.

If your house plants keep dying, you won’t want to miss these 7 hacks that will revive almost any house plant.

Advertisement

Rubber plant (crassula)

Rubber plant (crassula)
ANDREY NIKITIN/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic component: Unknown

Also referred to as jade, money plants or lucky plants, rubber plant can cause vomiting, neurological symptoms, and sometimes even depression, says Dr Zacharias. The toxic component isn’t completely understood at this point, but it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect your cat has eaten this plant. “Treatment will consist of vomiting, only if the patient is not neurologically impaired (i.e., if not acting ‘drunk’ or uncoordinated), activated charcoal, intravenous fluids to help support the patient and flush the toxin more rapidly from the body, monitoring, and symptomatic support,” says Dr Zacharias.

Swap it: The haworthia retusa offers the same thick and juicy leaf structure as jade, but it’s not a plant that’s toxic to cats.

Aloe vera (liliaceae)

Aloe vera (liliaceae)
ALBINA YALUNINA/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic components: Saponins, anthraquinones

Though aloe vera is often a household staple – especially in the kitchen, where its healing powers can be employed at the ready – this plant is toxic to cats. The gel itself is actually considered edible when extracted, but the thick plant material that surrounds the gel can cause gastro upset (including vomiting), lethargy and diarrhoea.

Swap it: The haworthia zebra succulent is technically smaller, but it offers a similar aesthetic. You can buy these plants in varying sizes and colours, and because they’re also succulents, they’re just as easy to care for.

Who doesn’t love easy to maintain succulents. Find out here how to have success with succulents.

Devil’s ivy (epipremnum aureum)

Devil’s ivy (epipremnum aureum)
ABDECORAL/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic components: Insoluble calcium oxalates

This plant goes by a few different names, including pothos, golden pothos, and taro vine. Dr Zacharias says, “It contains insoluble calcium oxalates that cause mouth, throat, tongue and lip irritation, [as well as] intense burning, excessive drooling (hypersalivation), vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.”

Swap it: The Chinese money plant of the Pilea genus family is considered non-toxic to cats and offers the same drooping aesthetic as ivy. Bonus: Those types of non-toxic plants may also bring good feng shui into your home.

Hydrangea (hydrangeaceae)

Hydrangea (hydrangeaceae)
ADAMREGAN/GETTY IMAGES

Toxic component: Cyanogenic glycoside

Hydrangea blossoms are known for their lush, colourful beauty, but they can cause your cat to become ill if consumed. “When a cat eats enough hydrangea to get sick, we expect symptoms to start within a couple of hours of eating the plant,” says Dr Myers. “Most cats will become nauseated, drool a lot and start to vomit. Diarrhoea usually follows, and that diarrhoea may be very bloody.”

Swap it: Available in a broad range of beautiful colours, zinnias make an excellent non-toxic alternative to hydrangea.

Only got a small outdoor space? No problem. Here are 14 smart small yard landscaping ideas.

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us: