> Toxic Plants – Plant Daddy YQG
Toxic Plants

Toxic Plants

Scenario: You go to your favourite garden centre, pick out a gorgeous plant you've wanted for ages -- but wait! You just got a new baby kitten, so it's time to start checking toxicity, right? You look it up, and -- damn, that's listed as toxic!

... What does toxic mean, exactly?

Short version: Most houseplants that are considered "toxic to cats" (or to pets in general) are very, very mildly toxic.

Medium-length version: For most houseplants, they're toxic because they contain sharp, microscopic crystals that tear into flesh -- starting with the gums when the pet chews on the plant. This causes pain, which is enough to mean that most cats will sample a new plant once, decide it's too painful and not worth it, and b.

If they actually go far enough to ingest any of the plant, which is not unheard of but fairly rare, they'll almost definitely only ingest a tiny amount, possibly enough to cause drooling, an upset stomach, or possibly vomiting like they'd eaten grass. For them to have a more serious reaction than that, they'd need to ingest a decent amount, like an entire leaf or two, and considering cats are obligate carnivores this is pretty rare.

I've yet to be able to find a documented case of a pet dying from eating your average houseplant -- with a single exception.

The only case I've ever found that wasn't hearsay has been a single case of a dog eating a sago palm seed, and unfortunately didn't survive. There was also a case of a toddler also dying after eating one! I don't understand why they're even sold sometimes.

The only common houseplants you really need to lock out for are the TRUE LILIES -- but note that peace lilies and Calla lilies aren't true lilies. Calla lilies and Peace lilies are both aroids, and only mildly toxic as listed above. For it to be onsidered a true lily, the scientific name should start with Lilium, and the only really common one is the Easter Lily. True lilies are EXTREMELY hepatotoxic to cats (licking some pollen off their paws can be enough to shut down their liver)!
Sago Palms are the only other major exception to this rule -- they are far less toxic, but the seeds are toxic enough that they can kill even small children who eat them, let alone cats. 
The only other exception to this general rule is that Dieffenbachia, or Dumbcanes, have unusually high amounts of these crystals, which is actually where it gets its name, so they'd have to eat less of the plant to have noticeable effects... But also, it'll cause more pain just from chewing, so it might be self-preventing.

There are other houseplants that have the potential for harmful effects in various ways beyond raphides, however!

For example, both the croton and any species of Ficus (including the rubber tree, Ficus elastica) have latex/sap that can burn your skin, that will run out when you harm the plant. Make sure to check each plant's care guide for more info, and when in doubt, always use gloves when handling unfamiliar plants to reduce the risk of contact dermatitis.

Leave a comment