Which Plants Are Poisonous To My Cat?
Keep these out of his reach 🌿
Cats like being mischievous sometimes, like when they knock over your houseplants.
But your cat's playful antics could quickly turn into an emergency if this ever happens, since some plants can be really dangerous to cats if they take a bite of one of them.
So before you buy a bunch of plants for your house or garden, it’s important to double check which plants are poisonous to cats.
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Erica Irish, a veterinarian and member of the board of advisors for betterpet, to find out which common houseplants are poisonous to cats and what to do if your cat eats a toxic plant.
Common indoor and outdoor plants that are poisonous to cats
Since so many common house and garden plants can actually be dangerous for cats, it’s important to make yourself familiar with them before you decide to bring any home.
Some common indoor and outdoor plants that are poisonous to cats include:
- Sago palms
- Autumn crocuses
- Snake plants (also called mother-in-law’s tongue)
- English ivy
- Monstera deliciosa
- Marijuana plants
If you’re not sure if a plant is poisonous to cats, you can visit the ASPCA website for a complete list to avoid bringing anything dangerous into your home.
Symptoms of plant poisoning in cats
Symptoms of poisoning can vary depending on the type of plant your cat ate, but there are some common signs to watch out for.
“Some poisonous plants may cause gastrointestinal signs, like vomiting or diarrhea, if ingested, or they can cause tongue lesions and excessive drooling if just irritating to chew upon,” Dr. Irish told The Dodo.
Some typical symptoms you might see if your cat ate a poisonous plant include:
- Skin irritation or inflammation
- Itchy or red eyes
- Mouth irritations
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drinking and urinating
- Irregular heartbeat
If you notice any of these symptoms — or if you saw your cat eat part of a plant, even if they don’t have any symptoms yet — contact your vet ASAP.
What to do if your cat ate a poisonous plant
The first thing to do if you think your cat ate a poisonous plant is to take him to the vet.
Try to provide as much information as you can to your vet to help them diagnose and treat your cat as quickly as possible. You should try to bring the plant or a picture and the name of the plant with you — and let the vet know how long ago it was eaten and how much was eaten.
“You can tell them your cat’s name, age and body weight,” Dr. Irish said. “You should also inform them of any preexisting conditions, like heart disease or kidney disease. If you have the plant or product that was ingested, bring this with you. It also helps to know how long ago the ingestion occurred and how much was ingested.”
Treatment depends on what type of plant it was and how much was eaten, but in any case, your vet may give your cat medications to make him vomit or activated charcoal to absorb any toxins that are in his digestive system. They might also provide supportive care as needed, such as anti-nausea drugs, pain medication or anti-inflammatory medication.
Your vet might provide IV fluids to flush the toxins from your cat’s body, as well.
Don’t panic if your cat eats a plant late at night. If you don’t already have an emergency vet you go to, your vet’s office will likely have emergency contact information on their phone message. The ASPCA Poison Control number and Pet Poison Helpline are also available 24/7, and they can help you figure out next steps.
“In most states, vets’ offices are legally required to provide you with emergency contact information if they close,” Dr. Irish said. “This may mean that your vet’s voicemail directs you to call a local emergency hospital, or they may have an after-hours or on-call service that gets you in touch with someone who can help.”
As soon as you get home from the vet, you should throw out the poisonous plant (if you haven’t already) or move it far out of your cat’s reach, and make sure you don’t have any other poisonous plants in your home or outside.
Plants that are safe for cats
Fortunately, there are plenty of plants that are safe for cats, too, so you can add a little greenery to your house without having to worry about an emergency vet trip.
Some common indoor and outdoor plants that are safe for cats include:
- African violets
- Baby tears
- Banana trees
- Spider plants
- Venus fly traps
- Areca palms
- Boston ferns
- Friendship plants
- Parlor palms
- Mosaic or nerve plants
- Ponytail palms
- Polka dot plants
- Purple waffle plants
- Royal velvet plants or purple passion
- Echeveria succulents
- Money trees
For a longer list of plants that are safe for cats, you can visit the ASPCA website.
Even though these plants aren’t toxic to your cat, you still shouldn’t let your cat chew on them. Since plants aren’t a part of your cat’s regular diet, eating one can cause an upset stomach or other minor digestive symptoms.
You can avoid an emergency by familiarizing yourself with lists of safe and unsafe plants, not bringing any poisonous plants into your home and not planting them outside. If you already have any toxic plants, either move them to a place that your cat definitely can’t reach or give them away.
And if you want to add some plants to your house, there are plenty of plants that are safe for cats — just be sure to keep them out of your cat’s reach, too, in case he gets a little curious about how they taste.
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