If you have a cat and you like having plants in your home the it’s essential that you know the answer to this question : Are succulents poisonous to cats?
Succulents are plants consisting of thick leaves with a fleshy texture. Their ability to retain water make them easily adaptable to long periods of drought and a popular choice for plant lovers that have a hard time remembering to water their plants. These common plants, however, could mean trouble for pet owners.
Succulents have become increasingly popular among home and garden enthusiasts with creative ideas for these appealing and low maintenance plants. You may be taken by the aesthetic appeal and benefits houseplants add to your home, but it’s not just humans that find them attractive. Some cats like to play with or chew on them for various reasons.
While there are many common plants that are generally safe they may still contain irritants to animals which can cause stomach upset or skin issues from contact. Then there are specific types of plants that raise a serious concern for your feline’s health as they can become toxic when consumed. This is due to a chemical or elemental component of the plant. Plants deemed toxic or poisonous to cats may be composed of a substance that is harmful to their normal function and might even carry life-threatening risks.
There are numerous types of succulents and likewise they have different compositions. Before we can answer the question are succulents poisonous to cats we need to look at their chemical composition and understand the common different types of succulents.
✓ Here’s a full list of toxic and non-toxic plant list on the ASPCA site, which is an excellent resource for you so I recommend you bookmark it. Or, here’s a visual guide to toxic plants.
Types of Succulents
Aloe Vera : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
This is a very popular plant belonging to the succulent family. They vary in species from small to large tree-like variations. They have long, thick green leaves that are typically prickly. It is viewed as a highly favorable plant for its medicinal properties, but contains a chemical known as saponin which is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Symptoms resulting from ingesting aloe include diarrhea, vomiting, skin irritation, tremors, and lethargic behavior.
Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata) : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
This is one of the most common types of succulents and is known by many names including money tree, friendship tree, or lucky plant. It produces thick leaves that are shiny and smooth. Although it’s unclear precisely what element of the Jade Plant is toxic to cats, consumption in large amounts can result in vomiting, incoordination, lethargic behavior, and depression.
Sago Palm : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
Also known as Cycas Revoluta, sago palm is classified as a cycad belonging to the succulent genus. It’s also classified as one of the succulents poisonous to cats. Its long feather-like leaves resemble those of a palm tree and are slow-growing. The hardy plant consists of cycasin, a chemical component that attacks the liver.
The entire plant is classified as toxic to cats, but the seeds contain even higher concentrations of cycasin than the leaves. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and increased urination can present in less than an hour from consumption. Severe symptoms including blood in feces, yellow skin and gums and bleeding easily in addition to neurological signs of distress are a result of liver failure from sago palm poisoning.
Sansevieria Trifasciata : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
Common names of this perennial succulent plant include Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue due to the sharp pointy edges of its leaves. They are characterized by long leaves that grow vertically with dark green with light gray-green coloring. These make great houseplants for their high tolerance to neglect and air purifying qualities, however they’re also composed of the chemical saponin. This is the chemical composition found in many other plants which causes irritation to cats when ingested and can lead to failure of normal functions.
Senecio Rowleyanus : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
This plant, also known as String of Pearls or String of Peas Plant, is a perennial succulent vine that produces long stems lined with small, round leaves. They produce small white flowers with a fragrant vanilla-cinnamon scent. These plants can not tolerate direct sunlight or frost so they are commonly grown as hanging houseplants plants. The sap from String of Pearls plants can cause dermatitis issues for pets as well as humans. If ingested it can also become toxic to cats with symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargic behavior.
These types of succulents are quite popular houseplants with many flowering species that produce bright colorful flowers. There are 150-200 species of Kalanchoes, many of which are safe but some species of this succulent contain bufadienolides cardiac glycosides which have harmful effects on organ systems for cats and dogs. As the name suggests, this chemical affects the heart which can be fatal when ingested in large quantities. Cats may display lethargic behavior and experience irregular heartbeat or an abnormal heart rhythm. Specific types of Kalanchoes that have a toxic profile for cats include the following:
Kalanchoe Tomentosa : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
Also called the Panda Plant this succulent is characterized as a small perennial shrub with fuzzy grayish-green leaves and dark red or brown rimmed foliage. The gelatin substance encased inside the leaves consist of insoluble calcium oxalates that when consumed result in immediate distress for cats. Symptoms typically include pawing at the mouth, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
Kalanchoe Daigremontiana : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
(Common names: Mother of Thousands, Alligator Plant, Mexican Hat Plant) this species grows rapidly and consists of large green, unusual-looking leaves with mini plantlets around the edges of the leaves. Their composition of daigremontianum is a toxic steroid to cats causing vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and in some cases abnormal heart rate, tremors, and seizures. This species is often mistaken with Kalanchoe Delagoensis for its similar characteristics. Kalanchoe Delagoensis also has potentially harmful properties to cats if ingested but symptoms are generally milder causing irritation or upset to the gastrointestinal tract.
Christmas Cactus : Is it Toxic to cats? YES
This succulent plant is easy to care for and produces blooms of flowers in various colors. Like most types of succulents Christmas cactus can store water in their leaves for a reasonable amount of time. They are not classified as toxic and make favorable houseplants for pet owners. Caution is still advised with sensitive cats as they can exhibit allergic reactions to consumption.
For some plant types to have toxic principles on a cat’s system it only takes a small amount ingested to cause problems. Other milder toxic plants may have harmful effects only when ingested in large amounts. Because the level of toxicity a plant has can vary a safe bet is to avoid exposure to these potentially harmful types altogether.
Download PDF List : Toxic Plants for Cats & Dogs
Are Orchids Poisonous to Cats? — NO
Orchids are flowers that fall in the class of the phalaenopsis. These plants make up one of the largest families of flowering plants with diverse blooms. They’re widespread and thrive in tropical regions. These are classified as non-toxic plants to cats and dogs according to the ASPCA. Much like other types of non-toxic plants, orchids may still produce mild symptoms of irritation such as stomach upset if consumed.
Are Roses Poisonous to Cats? — NO
Roses are a beautiful addition to gardens with their vibrant colors and variations but are roses poisonous to cats? It is safe to say there are no reports of toxic properties in roses when it comes to your beloved feline. Bouquets with roses may pose some concerns on the other hand. When it comes to fresh cut flowers in bouquets and arrangements it is best to err on the side of caution. Some floral bouquets may contain other flowers that are potentially dangerous to cats.
Are Ferns Poisonous to Cats? — No
Ferns are common houseplants and often found in gardens. When it comes down to the question are ferns poisonous to cats it gets tricky. Plants that are deemed as true Ferns have been found non-toxic to cats, however that doesn’t mean they won’t cause irritation or gastrointestinal upset when consumed, especially in large amounts. Like many other plants cats like to chew on, there is a chance of mild symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea but unlikely to cause any severe health concerns.
What are true ferns?
True ferns that are classified as non-toxic to cats include Boston, Button, Bird’s nest, Maidenhair, Rabbit’s foot, Staghorn and Whitman Fern. Not all plants that have fern-like characteristics or the word ‘fern’ in their name are actually classified as ferns.
Asparagus Fern : This common houseplant also known as Emerald feather, Emerald, Plumosa, Lace or Sprengeri Fern produces soft green foliage. It is classified as a Lilaceae and considered non-toxic by the ASPCA, however it can cause skin irritation and upset stomach. These plants can produce small white flowers and berries when grown under the right conditions which may be mildly toxic to cats if ingested. Special care should be taken with these plants if you have them in or around your home.
Plants that are dangerous to cats
Now that you’re aware there are succulents poisonous to cats you may want to read on to learn of other potentially harmful plants you might have. If you have cats, whether indoors or left outside, you might want to take note of what plants or flowers you have around your home. Some plants classified as toxic can have systemic damage to a cat’s organ function from even small amounts being ingested.
These are additional plants that are very common and also contain toxic properties that could be harmful or even fatal when ingested.
Lilies : Any and all types of Lilies are considered highly toxic to cats if eaten and can lead to kidney failure. It’s unclear exactly what principle of its composition has the negative effects on cats, although even just one to two leaves can be fatal to a cat if ingested.
Azaleas : This woody shrub produces flowers and is wildly popular among homeowners. They are composed of a substance known as grayanotoxins which can lead to disorders of the skeletal and cardiac muscle. Consumption of these flowering plants can have mild to severe reactions causing gastrointestinal problems including vomiting and diarrhea and lead to cardiac failure.
Chrysanthemums : Various plants that fall under this classification including mums and daisies consist of toxic principles and irritants that cause dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, hyper-salivation, and incoordination
Tulips : These bulb plants produce tall, bulb flowers in various bright colors. They may look attractive and festive during the Spring but they’re not so nice on a cat’s system. These plants contain a toxic principle Tulipalin A and B which is highest in concentration in the bulb. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation and depression in cats.
Ivy Plants : All plants that are classified under Ivy plants have various toxic principles to cats and cause a wide variety of symptoms. These common ivy plants are two of the most popular yet harmful species to cats and dogs alike when ingested.
English Ivy : also known as branching ivy, glacier ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy, this plant produces dark green pointed foliage and berries. The plant itself contains saponins which are known irritants to a cat’s gastrointestinal tract and more toxic than the berries causing vomiting, diarrhea, and hypersalivation.
Devil’s Ivy : Also known as Pothos, Taro Vine, and Ivy Arum, this is a very popular common houseplant that produces a vine foliage with leaves varying in color from yellow to green. It contains insoluble calcium oxalates which cause oral irritation to cats including pain and inflammation of the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and excessive vomiting and diarrhea.
What to do if your cat eats a poisonous plant?
If you see or suspect your cat may have ingested a toxic plant the first thing you should do is immediately remove any part of the plant from your cat’s mouth, considering it’s safe to do so, as well as from their fur, skin, or claws. Place your cat in a safe environment where you can closely monitor them for any changes in behavior. Signs and indications to look for that could mean consumption of a poisonous substance or a potentially life-threatening problem include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Hypersalivation or drooling
- Excessive drinking and urinating
- Irregular or abnormal heart rate
- Excessive vomiting or diarrhea
- Weakness and/or uncoordinated
Call your vet or the Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) right away if your cat begins to experience any symptoms of distress. They will likely want to know what type of plant and approximately how much of the plant was ingested. This will help them make a proper diagnosis. If you’re unsure of the plant type or species your cat ingested, try and keep a sample of various plants you suspect to bring in and show the veterinarian.
There are various treatment options your vet may perform on a cat that’s ingested a poisonous plant from inducing vomiting to administering charcoal for absorption of the harmful substance. They may also prescribe medication to help protect vital organ systems. Never try to induce vomiting on your own without the instruction of a vet or an expert.
Which plants are safe around cats?
Having an indoor cat doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the beauty or benefits of having indoor plants. Succulent plants are often favored for their hardiness and tolerance to neglect requiring less watering than average plants. There are succulent plants that are non toxic if ingested and won’t cause long-term ill effects.
Additional common plants that are deemed as safe to have around pets include Bromeliads, Spider Plants and Wandering Jew. They may have the potential to cause minor skin irritation or upset stomach issues when ingested but they are not toxic and won’t cause any long-term ill-effects.
The plants mentioned in this article are the most common plant species typically found among homeowners and gardeners. Keep in mind this is not an extensive list of all plant types that are poisonous to cats and pets. It is always advisable to know the name of the plants in or around your home to find out their toxicity level. Always report to your vet if you notice unusual changes in your cat’s behavior or health.
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