Many people enjoy keeping plants in their home, but some plants are toxic to pets, and can make them very sick. If your feline friend gets a hold of them, it could send your pet to the vet with some serious, sometimes deadly consequences.
Many people enjoy keeping plants in their homes, but some plants are toxic to pets and can make them very sick. Particularly your curious kitty, who likes to nibble and play with your greenery. Here, in this article, we will cover a list of ten common houseplants that you should either keep out of reach or avoid keeping all together, as they aren’t cat safe. If your feline friend gets a hold of them, it could send your pet to the vet with some serious, sometimes deadly consequences.
Toxin vs. Poison
When discussing plants, the term “toxicity” is used. Some plants are not “poisonous”; they are toxic. The difference between the two is that while a toxin is a naturally occurring poisonous substance that does not necessarily cause injury or cause death, as it varies from mild to severe effects. However, a true poison will most likely cause serious harm to its victim.
The Top Ten Most Toxic Houseplants
1. Lilies (Lilium or Hemerocallis spp.)
While beautiful, Lilies are one of the most toxic plants for your cat. If you own a cat, placing these flowers in your home is a dangerous risk. Some lilies are part of the “true lily” or Lilium family, and others, like “daylilies”, are classified as part of the Hemerocallis family, and both are extremely dangerous for cats.
The entire plant, including the stems, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in the vase, is known to be toxic to cats and causes kidney failure within three days. So when picking flowers for your home, it's best to stay away from any plant called a lily since most of them are a deadly risk to your feline.
Note: Even though the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) is not a true lily, they are also toxic to cats, as the plant contains something known as calcium oxalates, making it dangerous only if ingested.
2. Aloe Vera
Everyone knows and loves the Aloe Vera plant. It's easy to care for and has long been used as a natural medicine for burns. Unfortunately, this plant, characterized by its thick, succulent-type leaves, with small spines along the leaves' edges, is toxic to cats if ingested.
3. Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
One of the most popular houseplants, the Monstera deliciosa, is beautiful and easy to care for. It produces large foliage featuring fenestrations, or holes and open splits across the surface of the leaf, for which this plant is famous for. However, this feature is not unique to Monsteras. Sadly, this particular fenestration-leaved plant is highly toxic to cats, as it contains the insoluble calcium oxalates, just like the Peace Lily plant.
4. Pothos (Epopremnum aureum)
If you like to keep plants in your home, chances are you probably have a pothos. Mispronounced as “ponthos” by many, this plant is popular among both novice and experienced houseplant owners. It's easy to care for, and beautiful vining makes it a common addition to many homes; sadly, this plant contains the same toxic substance we have mentioned above, the insoluble calcium oxalates, and should be avoided if you have a cat.
5. Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
The snake plant, also known as the “Mother In Law Tongue” plant, is probably one of the most well-known low light-loving plants available. It's incredibly easy to care for, but it is toxic for both cats and dogs if ingested, as it contains Saponins.
6. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Thanks to the toxin, Triterpenoid saponins, the English Ivy plant is extremely dangerous to cats when ingested. The gorgeous draping vines of small, pointed leaves are attractive to both people and cats alike. Except your cat may see it as a snack and end up very sick. Containing the toxin, Triterpenoid saponins, the foliage (leaves) are more toxic than the berries, leading to gastric upset if consumed.
7. Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia amoena)
A popular houseplant, the Dieffenbachia has beautiful tropical foliage. Its low maintenance makes it an easy choice for many plant enthusiasts, but this particular houseplant contains toxic substances, like proteolytic enzyme, and the common theme of this list, Insoluble calcium oxalates.
8. Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
Native to southern Africa, Madagascar, and Austraila, this plant is considered a succulent and is closely related to the Jade plant (which is also toxic to cats). Also called the “Mother-of-Millions”, the toxin is known as bufadienolides and can cause what’s known as disorganized cardiac electrical activity, leading to an elevated heart rate which can cause cardiac arrest (a heart attack). So it’s best to keep this one out of your home if you have a cat.
9. Begonia (Begoniaceae)
There are more than 2,000 different types of begonias. Native to moist tropical climates, this genus of flowering plants is commonly found in plant lovers' homes. But this common ornamental plant is yet another plant containing the toxin calcium oxalates.
10. Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
This widely popular plant is commonly seen around the holiday season. Known for its bright showy flowers, this plant is not as lethal as people used to believe. However, this plant is still toxic; the milk-colored sap that seeps from the plant contains Diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like toxins, which can lead to mouth and skin, and stomach irritation, drooling, and vomiting.
Choosing Pets Over Plants
For most of us who love keeping both plants and pets, choosing one over the other isn’t always easy. But sometimes it's not so simple. Maybe you have had certain plants for many years before adopting your cat, maybe you never knew that lily could potentially kill your kitty, maybe the plant used to belong to your beloved grandma, or was that rare find you always wanted.
Luckily there are certain things you can do to keep your cat safe while still being able to keep your favorite houseplants too.
1. Use a Greenhouse Cabinet
Greenhouse cabinets provide a wonderful option to keep your most treasured but toxic plants out of your cat's reach. IKEA makes a popular cabinet that makes it impossible for your kitty to get into. Simply install grow lights inside or purchase a ready-made greenhouse cabinet with lights already installed; these can be found on Amazon.
2. Wall Mount Your Plants
Using shelving units mounted on your walls is the perfect way to keep your plants up out of your cat's reach. Just make sure they cannot reach the shelf by leaping or jumping to it from the ground or another surface.
3. Dedicate a Room for Your Plants
If you can’t see yourself tossing that special plant, one great option is to have a plant room. Keeping your plants in a room that is inaccessible to your feline friend is imperative if you want to keep them away from your plants. Make sure to chose a room with proper lighting for your plants, or be sure to install grow lights to keep them happy.
Note: Be sure to keep your plant room door closed at all times so your cat doesn’t sneak in by mistake. If your cat is sneaky, you can install motion cameras with automatic misters to help keep them out of the room.
4. Make A Terrarium
One of the best options for keeping your plants out of your cat’s reach is to make an enclosed terrarium. Using an old glass aquarium, or decorative case enclosed in glass, and an LED grow light, its simple to build and can be a beautiful way to display your houseplants.
5. Hang Your Plants From The Ceiling
A surprisingly simple option for keeping toxic plants away from your cat is to hang them from your ceiling. Using some tools you can secure a macramé rope plant pot holder to the ceiling and place your beloved plants into the holder. As with any wall-mounted plant fixture, make sure to position these so that your cat can’t reach them from any surface.
For more tips on keeping your kitty away from your plants, click here: Keeping Your House Cat Away From Your Houseplants
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