Are Succulents Safe To Have Around My Cat?
Here’s what you should know before decorating 🪴
Cats are super curious, and they can sneakily get into things they’re not supposed to eat — like your succulents. But is it OK if your cat takes a bite of a succulent, or should you be worried?
It turns out that there are some succulents that are poisonous to cats, so you should be careful which types you bring into your home, and you should know the symptoms to look for if your cat manages to eat one.
The Dodo spoke to Dr. Sada Grieve, a fear-free-certified concierge veterinarian, to find out what you need to know about succulents to keep your cat safe.
Are succulents safe for cats?
The good news for plant lovers is that most succulents are safe to have around cats. But there are some types of succulents that are poisonous, so it’s important to know which ones are dangerous to avoid bringing them into your house.
“Most succulents are fine for pets, but there are some that have varying levels of toxicity,” Dr. Grieve told The Dodo.
Some common succulents that are poisonous to cats include:
- Silver jade
- Snake plant (also called mother-in-law’s tongue)
- String of pearls
- Pencil cactus
Symptoms to look for if your cat eats a succulent
The signs of poisoning if your cat eats a succulent can vary based on the type of succulent he ate, but there are some common symptoms to be familiar with.
“Most of them will cause vomiting and diarrhea,” Dr. Grieve said. “Euphorbia and kalanchoe cause hypersalivation and oral irritation. Its effects are immediate and can even cause eye irritation if there is contact!”
Some succulents, such as kalanchoe, can cause severe illness also.
“Kalanchoe has cardiac glycosides, which can cause hemorrhagic diarrhea (bloody diarrhea), abdominal pain, severe cardiovascular problems (tachycardia, arrhythmias), dyspnea (difficulty breathing), cold extremities, collapse and even death if consumed in large quantities.”
Here are some common symptoms to look for if your cat eats a succulent:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Mouth or skin irritation
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Signs of depression
What to do if your cat eats a succulent
If you think your cat ate a succulent, or if you notice any of the above symptoms, contact your vet ASAP. You can also call ASPCA Poison Control or the Pet Poison Helpline.
Treatment for your cat will depend on what kind of succulent your cat ate, how much he ate and how long ago he ate it. Because of this, it’s important to try to provide as much information as possible to your vet to help them treat your cat. If you can, bring the plant or part of the plant that your cat ate, a picture of the plant or the name of the plant.
“Treatment is usually symptomatic and supportive care,” Dr. Grieve said. “The veterinarian will treat the cat by helping with any irritation to the face, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. They may clean out the mouth and rinse with a little milk or plain yogurt.”
Your vet might make your cat throw up to get the poisonous succulent out of his system, or they may give your cat activated charcoal to prevent absorption of any toxins.
“If asymptomatic, the veterinarian may induce vomiting [or perform a] gastric lavage, followed by activated charcoal ingestion,” Dr. Grieve said. “IV fluids, gastrointestinal protectants, antiemetics [drugs that treat nausea], anti-inflammatory and pain relief may be warranted if vomiting and diarrhea are severe and the pet becomes dehydrated.”
If your cat develops an irregular heartbeat, additional treatment and monitoring may be needed.
“If arrhythmias are heard, hospitalization and electrocardiographic monitoring along with cardiac drugs and IV fluids will be utilized in an attempt to help pets that may have consumed a life-threatening quantity of kalanchoe,” Dr. Grieve said.
Succulents that are safe for cats
Don’t worry — if you love succulents, there are plenty that are safe to have around cats.
Some common succulents that are safe for cats include:
Keep in mind that while these succulents aren’t poisonous to cats, you still shouldn’t let your cat nibble on them. Because they’re not a part of his regular diet, he could get an upset stomach if he eats them.
In addition to the succulents mentioned here, you can double check the ASPCA’s poisonous plants list or the Pet Poison Helpline’s list of poisonous substances to see if a plant is safe for your cat.
While most succulents are safe to have around cats, there are some that are poisonous, so you should keep all succulents (and other plants) far away from your cat to be safe. And make yourself familiar with the list of poisonous succulents and the symptoms so you can be prepared if your cat does manage to get ahold of one.
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