Toxic Or Safe? Plant Safety Around Your Cat
- by Chris Irwin
Every plant lover knows the feeling of walking into a nursery, seeing all the different species and dreaming about how they'll add them to their home! Buying a new plant for your house can be an exciting moment, but it can also present its fair share of challenges. Some species need more sun, some need less water, and, oh yes, some plants are extremely hazardous for cats!
If you are a cat parent, it's essential to recognise the types of plants that you bring into your home, as some can be extremely toxic to your furbabies and even lead to death. In this blog, we'll look at five plant species that are safe to have around your house and five plants that can cause systematic and gastrointestinal issues in your cat; thus, should be avoided at all costs!.
Before we dig into the finer details, it's crucial to keep in mind that not all plant toxins are dangerous; some plants will have mild toxins, while others can be pretty severe. If you suspect your cat has come into contact with any toxic plants, contact the vet immediately.
The first spot on today's list goes to Lilies. As some of you may know, Lilies are notably dangerous for cats. Many of the plants in the Lily family are very toxic, and some might be more dangerous than others. So, when it comes to this plant, it's better to err on the safe side and not have it in the house at all. Ingesting any part of the Lily plant, or even its pollen, can cause immediate kidney failure. Ingestion of Easter Lilies, Japanese Lilies, Red Lilies and Tiger Lilies can even cause death. Even something as mild as drinking water from the vase or licking the petals of the plant can cause death. So, if you suspect your cat has come in contact with a Lily plant, call the vet immediately, as a prompt response in this situation is best. To learn more about lily poisoning and treatment, check out this blog.
Our beloved Tulips are, in fact, part of the Lily family and so they contain Tulipalin A and B, which is what makes them toxic to cats. Most of the toxic compounds are concentrated in the bulb of this plant. If you think your cat has come into contact with a Tulip, look out for vomiting, drooling, tremors, diarrhoea, and depression.
All parts of the Sago plant are poisonous for cats, and the seeds are the deadliest part! The plant contains a compound known as Cycasin, which can cause liver damage in your cat. The signs of Sago poisoning include vomiting, lethargy, black, tarry stool, and increased thirst. It's essential to keep in mind that if your cat has chewed a Sago plant, take them to the vet immediately, as even with quick treatment, the survival rate is around 50%.
Also known as the Widow's Thrill, this plant is highly toxic for cats. There is no specific part of the plant that poses more of a threat, as all components can be deadly due to the toxin known as bufadienolides. This toxicity causes severe gastrointestinal effects, so, if you suspect your cat has come into contact with Kalanchoe, signs to look out for would include vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling. It's not advisable to keep this plant at home at all.
This plant contains a toxin known as cardiac glycoside, which can affect the muscles in your cat's heart. All parts of this plant are hazardous for your cat, including the water that accumulates in the vase. Watch out for vomiting, incoordination, seizures, vomiting and drooling, as a sign your cat may have been poisoned by Oleander.
Symptoms and effects
Plants are irritants, which is why both humans and animals suffer the effects of allergies from certain plants. It's essential to recognise the signs of irritation or inflammation caused by plants, so you know how to help your furbabies. If deep parts of the gastrointestinal tract become inflamed, vomiting and diarrhoea may occur. In a more severe case, if the toxin affects the organs, the symptoms to look out for will include: difficulty breathing, drooling or swelling, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive drinking, excessive urination, irregular heartbeat, and weakness.
If you're worried that your cat has ingested a plant, and you're not sure if it's poisonous or not, here is what you can do before taking them to the vet:
- Remove the plant you saw your cat playing with and remove any remaining pieces from their coat, mouth, or skin.
- Keep your cat in a confined space and monitor their behaviour closely; you're looking for any of the signs listed above.
- Identify the plant you believe your cat was munching on.
- If you're still unsure, call a vet.
- When you take your cat to the vet, if you are not sure about the plant, bring the plant with you for the vet to examine.
Safe plants for cats
If you're a plant lover, there are plenty of safe plants that you can bring into your home to avoid any issues with your feline friend.
Orchids: These beautiful plants come in a variety of colours and species, and this tall, delicate plant is safe to have around the house and your cats. Orchids require minimal water and should be kept in direct sunlight.
African Violets: This plant is great for a table decoration. Coming in a variety of colours, it thrives in a humid environment. Minimal care is required, but make sure to keep them in a well lit, warm spot.
Boston Ferns: These are great for filling empty spaces, as they're very leafy! If you do have this plant in your home, you might see your cat trying to bat the leaves, but don't worry; it's completely safe.
Spider plants: These are great to hang from the ceiling, and you'll notice that, similar to Boston ferns, your cat might take an interest in (attacking) it.
Bromeliads: Similar to orchids, these should be kept in direct sunlight and require minimal watering.
As a cat parent, it's necessary to be aware of the plants that can be dangerous to our furry friends, but this doesn't mean you have to eliminate plants from your home entirely. There are numerous safe plants that can be incorporated into your home, so you really can have the best of both worlds!