Plants and your cat
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
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)
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.