Pothos are popular houseplants renowned for their attractiveness and hardiness. Pothos plants are an easy way to decorate with greenery and brighten your living space, but if you are a pet owner, beware. Despite their beauty, pothos are toxic to cats.
Pothos plants are harmful to your feline friend, and it is important to understand what steps to take if your kitty ingests it. Knowing what symptoms to watch out for will alert you when to call your veterinarian.
Luckily, there are several houseplant options that keep your home safer for your kitty while still providing the lushness of indoor greenery.
What Is A Pothos Plant?
Epipremnum aureum, also known as golden pothos, taro vine, and devil’s ivy, has waxy, heart-shaped leaves that are so glossy and vibrant that they almost look fake. Pothos plants originate from tropical and subtropical regions and are particularly prevalent in Southeast Asia. In the West, people have been cultivating pathos as houseplants for hundreds of years. Pothos are a staple of many indoor gardens because they are low maintenance and thrive even in low light. This allows more options for decorative placement, as direct sunlight is not necessary.
So are pothos toxic to cats? Probably, yes, as no matter the variety, pothos and pets are a bad combination.
Why Are Pothos Plants Toxic To Cats?
All cat parents know that their furry friends are insatiably curious and will usually find a way to investigate whatever strikes their fancy. If there are pothos cats must investigate! Keeping your surroundings safe for your kitty is similar to baby-proofing your home for a toddler. But cats are expert climbers, so thwarting their dangerous desires can be even more challenging.
Felines are natural meat eaters, but they seek out greens to settle their stomachs or supplement any nutrients missing from their regular diet. It is common for cats to snack on any houseplants within their reach, especially trailing ones like pothos plants.
Pothos poisoning can occur if your kitty bites, chews on, or ingests the pothos plant. This is because the entire plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which cause an immediate burning sensation as the crystals permeate the soft tissues of your cat's mouth, throat, and stomach.
Although not usually fatal, consuming calcium oxalate crystals can cause your pet serious discomfort and anxiety.
Symptoms Of Pothos Plant Poisoning In Cats
Even though most cats are experts at masking pain, the symptoms of pothos poisoning are usually evident immediately after the animal gnaws on or ingests the plant. Some of the symptoms you may observe include:
Pawing At The Mouth
Loss Of Appetite
My Cat Ate A Pothos Leaf: What Do I Do?
If you have any indication that your kitty has been munching on a pothos plant or the symptoms of pothos poisoning are already evident, call your veterinarian for guidance as soon as possible.
If your pet requires an evaluation, be sure to bring along a picture of the plant, or, better yet, a sample of the pothos your pet ingested to help your vet make a quick diagnosis. Describe your cat's symptoms in detail. What might not seem relevant could be very significant from the vet's vantage point. Since there is no diagnostic test for pothos poisoning, your firsthand report of your pet's symptoms and the timeline will help your vet immeasurably.
Once it has been concluded that pothos poisoning is the culprit, your veterinarian can choose the best course of treatment. The first order of business is alleviating your cat's discomfort, which may include carefully cleaning the pet's mouth to remove as many of the tiny, dagger-like crystals as possible.
There is no antidote for pothos plant poisoning, but your vet may provide medication to address G.I. irritation if your cat has been vomiting. To counteract dehydration caused by vomiting, the vet might also decide that your pet would benefit from IV fluids. Each situation is different.
In most cases, you and your cat can go home immediately after treatment for pothos poisoning. But if your pet suffered complications such as dehydration or swelling of the airway, your vet may wish to observe your cat for a bit to ensure they are stable.
Your vet may suggest a soft diet for your kitty while recuperating. Soft foods are easier to tolerate while your cat’s oral cavity and stomach are healing.
How To Keep Your Cat Safe From Pothos Plants
If your cat is not the rambunctious jumper type, placing your pothos on a high shelf or using a hanging pot may be enough to deter further exploration on the kitty's part. But if your cat is agile and adventurous, this might not do the trick. In that case, you could avoid the potential problem altogether and consider choosing pet-safe plants.
Cat-friendly Plant Alternatives
Even though pothos is a no-go, there are many house plants that are beautiful and safe for your cat as well. The ASPCA categorizes a huge list of plants into toxic and non-toxic lists.
Here is a sampling of beautiful and low-maintenance plants that can safely coexist with your feline friends.
The peperomia plant is a tough plant with attractive leaves. They are drought-tolerant and require little fussing. Best of all, the many varieties of peperomia are safe for felines.
Christmas cactuses are among the most cat-friendly plants. These attractive succulents are also non-toxic so they are perfect for your indoor garden.
Boston ferns are very popular indoor plants that are pet-safe. They are easy-care but prefer a humid environment.
The cat-friendly prayer plant boasts striking tri-colored foliage. Its name is inspired by the way its leaves rise and resembling praying hands at night. This plant also craves humidity.
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Since pothos plants are toxic to cats, it is best to avoid them in a household with feline family members if possible. If pothos and cats must coexist, responsible pet owners should keep the plants out of kitty's reach and know the symptoms of pothos plant poisoning.
Be sure to call your vet as soon as you realize your cat has consumed any part of the pothos plant, especially if they are already showing symptoms of pothos poisoning. With prompt and proper care, your fur baby should be back to peak health in no time at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are pothos toxic to cats? Or are pothos safe for cats?
Pothos plants are harmful to your feline friend and it is important to understand what steps to take if your kitty ingests it. Always consult with your vet for guidance.
Why are pothos poisonous to cats?
The entire plant contains calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals cause an immediate burning sensation as they easily permeate the soft tissues of your cat's mouth, throat, and stomach.
What do I do if my cat ate a pothos leaf?
If you catch your kitty munching on a pothos plant or the symptoms of pothos poisoning are already evident, contact your veterinarian immediately.
How to make sure your cats are safe around pothos plants?
Keep the plants on high shelves or in hanging planters to discourage your cat from nibbling on them. To err on the side of caution, consider other harmless houseplant varieties instead of a pothos plant.