Common House Plants That Can Be Toxic to Cats

Common House Plants That Can Be Toxic to Cats

Kylee Bumpus (10th), Reporter

Most people have at least one plant in their house or yard. And most of the people reading this have at least one cat. Plants are a very common thing, found practically everywhere, and are commonly used to decorate houses, but some plants can be extremely toxic and life threatening to cats. 

Pothos is a beautiful plant that grows vines and looks amazing on any shelf, but unfortunately this lovely plant can cause a lot of harm to your kitty. By biting into the plant, pothos release small insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which will penetrate your kitty’s body tissue. If your kitty has been poisoned by pothos, signs appear pretty quickly, which may include drooling, vomiting, and them pawing the inside of their mouth. Some symptoms you can’t see are a swollen tongue, trouble swallowing, breathing difficulty and gastrointestinal pain. If your cat has eaten any pothos, they may hide or refuse to eat as well. If you happen to own a pothos, or let your cat outside, and notice these symptoms, please take your cat to the vet immediately. Luckily, pothos poisoning isn’t usually fatal, and most kitties make full recoveries, however, this is still incredibly painful for your cat. Vets will rinse out your cat’s mouth to get any crystals out that are still there, and might have to perform a procedure called a gastric levage to remove any crystals from their stomach, and may give your furry friend some Benadryl. Pothos is a part of the Araceae plant family, which includes several other plants that can hurt your kitties, such as dieffenbachia (dumb cane) and philodendrons.

Another, much more dangerous plant for cats, are Lilies. Lilies in the true lily and daylily families can be especially toxic to cats. Every part of the plant is toxic, the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in the vase. Just by taking a nibble of petal, leaf or stem, licking a couple grains of pollen off of a surface or off their fur, or by taking a sip of the water in the vase, your cat can develop fatal kidney failure. The toxin has not been identified and only affects cats, so any dogs you have will be ok if they eat a lily. Early signs of lily poisoning include decreased activity level, drooling, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Symptoms start around 12 hours after ingestion, and signs of kidney damage start 12-24 hours after. The symptoms of kidney damage include increased urination and dehydration. Within 24 to 72 hours, kidney failure will occur and lead to death if untreated. Early veterinary attention will usually save your cat, however if treatment starts 18 or more hours after your cat ingests part of a lily, the cat is more likely to have irreversible kidney failure. If you think your cat has ingested part of a lily, please bring them to the vet immediately, and bring the lily with you or take a picture to show your vet, to help determine if it is a highly toxic lily or not. Lilies highly toxic to cats include asiatic lilies (including hybrids), daylilies, easter lilies, japanese show lilies, oriental lilies, rubrum lilies, stargazer lilies, tiger lilies, and wood lilies. 

Other plants with “lily” in them that aren’t part of the true lily or daylily families that are still highly toxic to cats, but don’t cause kidney failure, are the lily-of-the-valley, and the gloriosa or flame lily. Lily-of-the-valley can cause the heart to beat abnormally in both cats and dogs, which can be life-threatening. The gloriosa/flame lily can cause multisystem organ failure in both cats and dogs. If you own a cat don’t bring lilies into your home or plant them outside your home, and if you have an outdoor cat make sure your neighbors don’t have lilies in their gardens. Calla lilies and peace lilies cause effects similar to that of the pothos plant, however they don’t require immediate medical attention and usually go away on their own. Breathing problems can occur, which would lead to a vet visit, but it is uncommon.

There are many more plants which can be toxic to your cat, including sago palm and monstera. Safer options to ensure your cat isn’t harmed are spider plants and rattlesnake plants. Make sure to do your research before buying any plants to ensure the safety and health of your feline friend.