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Most of us are surrounded by plants. They add the needed finishing touches to any decor. However, a small percentage of these plants have the potential to cause harm to our cats and this beautiful plants could become a deadly enemy. Cats are generally sensible creatures - but nevertheless, they can become victims of poisoning.
Who is at risk?
Most cats are fastidious creatures and are careful what they eat. Poisoning cats are therefore generally rare. Young cats, and especially indoor cats are most at risk as they may chew houseplants through curiosity or boredom. When a cat is confined to a run or lives entirely indoors-hazardous plants should be removed from her environment. Cats given free access to the outside world tend to have other things to occupy their minds than sampling unfamiliar vegetation. But even free-roaming adult cats may accidentally ingest needles or seeds that have become entangled in their coat during grooming. Many cats love to eat grass to aid their digestion. Indoor cats may crave some greenery and chew at houseplants.
There are many plants that are poisonous to cats. They vary in their toxicity. Many are irritant rather than poisonous. Below is a list of houseplants that can be harmful or fatal depending on the quantity swallowed. Also, remember that cats that chew plants are exposed to any chemical pesticides or fertilizers that may have been applied directly to the plants or through the soil.
Hahn's Self-Branching Ivy
Indian Rubber Plant
Jack in the Pulpit
Lacy Tree Philodendron
Madagascar Dragon Tree
Mother-in Law's Tongue
Saddle Leaf Philodendron
What are the signs of poisoning?
The signs of poisoning can vary - drooling, repeated vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, suddenly collapse, excessive irritation (red, swollen, blistering or raw) of the skin, the mouth or throat.
It’s more common for plants to cause skin irritation in cats than to poison them. Contact with the leaves, stems or sap of certain plants can cause rashes and hypersensitivity to sunlight resulting in sunburn. In cats, these plants can cause blistering or itching of the mouth and gums. Sneezing and eye problems can also be caused by contact with these plants.
What to do?
You should contact your veterinary surgeon immediately if your cat is showing signs of poisoning. If you see your cat eat something that you suspect to be poisonous, don’t attempt to make it vomit. Take your cat to the vet with a sample of the plant or even better a plant label. Make a note of the time of eating and any symptoms. Several days may pass between the ingestion of the undesirable material and the effects.
How to prevent poisoning in cats?
You can prevent your cat from chewing on plants by misting the leaves then sprinkling them with cayenne pepper. You might also want to consider planting a container of grass (regular grass, not the drug) for your cat. If your cats are digging in your pots, go to your local hobby/craft store and buy a few pieces of plastic needlepoint canvas. Trim it to the shape of the pot, cut a slit in it and then a hole in the center for the plant. Rest it on top of the soil and your cat will be unable to dig.
Of course, it’s impossible for you to prevent your cat coming into contact with hazardous plants in neighboring gardens but you can make a note of any toxic plants in their gardens. After gardening, ensure hedge clippings or uprooted plants are tidied up. Bulbs, rhizomes, and the roots can be the most hazardous parts of some plants.