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:

  • Drooling
  • Wobbly gait
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Increased or decreased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Dilated pupils

What are insoluble 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)

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

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

Scientific name: Dieffenbachia spp

Other names: Dumb cane, mother-in-laws 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

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

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 toxic to cats

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

Scientific name: Bowenia, Ceratozamia, Cycas, Dioon, Encephalartos, Macrozamia, Microcycas, Stangeria, and Zamia

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

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 toxic to cats

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 toxic to cats

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 toxic to cats

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 toxic to cats

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 toxic to cats

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

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 toxic to cats

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 berries toxic to cats

Scientific name: Asparagus aethiopicus

Level of toxicity: Mild

Other names: Sprenger’s ssparagus, 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 toxic to cats

Scientific name: Sansevieria trifasciata

Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate

Other names: Snake plant, mother-in-laws 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

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 toxic to cats

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

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

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 toxic to cats

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

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)

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

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

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

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