Common House (Indoor) Plants Toxic To Cats

Common House (Indoor) Plants Toxic To Cats

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Levels of toxicity can range from mild gastrointestinal disturbances to severe and life-threatening toxicity.

Symptoms of poisoning can vary depending on the plant ingested, but common signs can include the following:

What are insoluble calcium oxalate crystals?

Rapides (calcium oxalate crystals)
Rapides (calcium oxalate crystals)

Many plants have evolved to protect themselves from herbivores with needle-like raphides of calcium oxalate. When the plant is chewed, these needle-like crystals embed in the delicate tissues of the oral cavity leading to swelling, vesicles, difficulty swallowing, oral pain, drooling, and in severe cases, swelling of the throat which can cause difficulty breathing.

Rubber plant

Rubber plant (ficus elastica)
Rubber plant (ficus elastica)
  • Scientific name: Ficus elastica
  • Other names: Rubber fig, Indian rubber bush, Indian rubber tree, rubber fig, rubber bush
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: Sap
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite

Peace lily

Peace lily
Peace lily
  • Scientific name: Spathiphyllum spp
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and skin irritation
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Dumbcane

Dumb cane
Dumb cane
  • Scientific name: Dieffenbachia spp
  • Other names: Dumb cane, mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Zanzibar (ZZ) plant

Zanzibar plant
Zanzibar plant

Image hollyjazzz362, Flickr

  • Scientific name: Zamioculcas spp
  • Other names: Zuzu plant, emerald palm, Zanzibar gem
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Cyclamen

Cyclamen
Cyclamen
  • Scientific name: Cyclamen spp
  • Other names: Sowbread
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Terpenoid saponins
  • Toxic parts: All parts, the tubers are the most toxic
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances and abnormal heart rhythm
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy and abnormal heart rhythm 

String of pearls

String of pearls plant
String of pearls plant
  • Scientific name: Senecio rowleyanus
  • Other names:
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and liver toxicity if large amounts ingested (uncommon)
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite

Sago palm

Cycas plant
Cycas plant
  • Scientific name: Cycas spp.
  • Other names: Sago palm, king sago, sago cycad, Japanese sago palm, fern palm, coontie palm, cardboard palms, queen sago
  • Level of toxicity: Severe
  • Toxic compound: Cycasin, methylazoxymethanol (MAM), B-N-methylamino-L-alanine (L-BMAA) and unidentified
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant, seeds contain the highest amount of toxin
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances and liver failure
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, increased thirst, abdominal pain, abdominal fluid, jaundice (yellow gums), bleeding, bruising, dark tarry stools

Swiss cheese plant

Swiss cheese plant
Swiss cheese plant
  • Scientific name: Monstera delicosa
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Window leaf plant, hurricane plant, Swiss cheese plant, cheese plant, ceriman, Mexican breadfruit 
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Jade plant

Jade plant
Jade plant
  • Scientific name: Crassula argentea
  • Level of toxicity: Moderate
  • Other names: Japanese rubber pant, baby jade, friendship tree, lucky plant
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts:  All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, lethargy, incoordination

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera
  • Scientific name: Aloe Vera
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: First aid plant
  • Toxic compound: Saponins, anthraquinone glycosides
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy

Anthurium

Anthurium
Anthurium
  • Scientific name: Anthurium scherzeranum
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Common names: Pigtail plant, painter’s pallet, laceleaf, oilcloth flower, flamingo lily and tail flower
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and skin irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite

Pothos

Pothos
Pothos
  • Scientific name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Devil’s ivy, golden pothos, taro vine, silver vine, ivy arum, hunter’s robe
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Elephant Ear

Elephant ear plant
Elephant ear plant
  • Scientific name: Colocasia spp
  • Other names: Tarul, karkala ko ganu, elephant-ear, taro, cocoyam, dasheen, chembu, champadhumpa, shavige gadde, eddoe.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing
  • Cordyline
Cordyline
Cordyline

Image Michael Coghlan, Flickr

  • Scientific name: Cordyline spp
  • Other names: Ti-plant
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Leaves
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dilated pupils

Schefflera

Umbrella plant
Umbrella plant
  • Scientific name: Schefflera spp
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Umbrella plant, Australian ivy palm, star leaf, octopus tree
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Asparagus fern

Asparagus fern
Asparagus fern
  • Scientific name: Asparagus aethiopicus
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Other names: Sprenger’s asparagus, foxtail fern, emerald feather, emerald fern
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Berries
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and skin irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling, and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite.

Sansevieria

Sansevieria
Sansevieria
  • Scientific name: Sansevieria trifasciata
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal upset
  • Symptoms: Nausea, drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea

Chinese evergreen

Chinese evergreen
Chinese evergreen

Image courtesy Marissa Anderson, Flickr

  • Scientific name: Aglaonema spp
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, and swelling, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Corn plant (dracaena)

Dracaena
Dracaena
  • Scientific name: Dracaena spp
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Corn plant, cornstalk plant, dragon tree, ribbon plant, money tree
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Leaves
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dilated pupils

Philodendron

Philodendron
Philodendron

Scientific name: Philodendron spp.

  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names:  The philodendron comes in over 400 species, some common names include split-leaf philodendron, horsehead philodendron, cordatum, fiddle-leaf, panda plant, fruit salad plant, red emerald, red princess, saddle leaf
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, and swelling, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Fiddle-leaf fig

Fiddle leaf plant
Fiddle leaf plant

Image Lisa Taliana, Flickr

  • Scientific name: Ficus lyrata
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: Sap
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite

Yucca plant

Yucca plant
Yucca plant
  • Scientific name:  Yucca spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Leaves
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dilated pupils

Pencil plant

Pencil cactus
Pencil cactus

Image courtesy Ralph Hockens, Fickr

  • Scientific name:  Euphorbia tirucalli
  • Other names: Aveloz, firestick plants, Indian tree spurge, naked lady, pencil tree, pencil cactus, sticks on fire or milk bush
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Irritant sap
  • Toxic parts: Leaves
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Vomiting and oral irritation

Amaryllis

Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily)
Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily)
  • Scientific name: Amaryllis spp. or Hippeastrum spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Belladonna lily, naked lady, resurrection lily, butterfly amaryllis, St Joseph lily
  • Toxic compound: Lycorine
  • Toxic parts: All parts, the bulb, and leaves are the most toxic
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and tremors

Calla lily

Calla lily
Calla lily
  • Scientific name: Zantedeschia aethiopica
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Arum lily, calla lily, florist’s calla, pig lily, white arum, trumpet lily,  white arum, garden calla
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts, the roots are the most toxic
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Bird of paradise

Bird of paradise plant
Bird of paradise plant
  • Scientific name: Strelitzia reginae
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Crane flower, bird’s tongue flower
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: All parts, fruit, and seeds contain the most toxins
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, drooling, lethargy