Common House (Indoor) Plants Toxic To Cats

Last Updated on February 26, 2021 by Julia Wilson

Levels of toxicity can range from mild gastrointestinal disturbances to severe and life-threatening toxicity.

Symptoms of poisoning can vary depending on the plant ingested, but common signs can include the following:

Related: Ten common plants toxic to cats

What are insoluble calcium oxalate crystals?

Many plants have evolved to protect themselves from herbivores with needle-like raphides of calcium oxalate. When the plant is chewed, these needle-like crystals embed in the delicate tissues of the oral cavity leading to swelling, vesicles, difficulty swallowing, oral pain, drooling, and in severe cases, swelling of the throat which can cause difficulty breathing.

Rubber plant

Variegated Ficus elastica
  • Scientific name: Ficus elastica
  • Other names: Rubber fig, Indian rubber bush, Indian rubber tree, rubber fig, rubber bush
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: Sap
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite

Peace lily

  • Scientific name: Spathiphyllum spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and skin irritation
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Dumbcane

  • Scientific name: Dieffenbachia spp.
  • Other names: Dumbcane, mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Zanzibar (ZZ) plant

  • Scientific name: Zamioculcas spp.
  • Other names: Zuzu plant, emerald palm, Zanzibar gem
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Cyclamen

  • Scientific name: Cyclamen spp.
  • Other names: Sowbread
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Terpenoid saponins
  • Toxic parts: All parts, the tubers are the most toxic
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances and abnormal heart rhythm
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy and abnormal heart rhythm

String of pearls, beans, bananas

  • Scientific name: Curio spp. (formerly Senecio spp.)
  • Other names: String of beans, String of pearls, String of dolphins, String of watermelon
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and liver toxicity if large amounts ingested (uncommon)
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite

Sago palm

  • Scientific name: Cycas spp.
  • Other names: Sago palm, king sago, sago cycad, Japanese sago palm, fern palm, coontie palm, cardboard palms, queen sago
  • Level of toxicity: Severe
  • Toxic compound: Cycasin, methylazoxymethanol (MAM), B-N-methylamino-L-alanine (L-BMAA) and unidentified
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant, seeds contain the highest amount of toxin
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances and liver failure
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, increased thirst, abdominal pain, abdominal fluid, jaundice (yellow gums), bleeding, bruising, dark tarry stools

Swiss cheese plant

  • Scientific name: Monstera delicosa
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Window leaf plant, hurricane plant, Swiss cheese plant, cheese plant, ceriman, Mexican breadfruit
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

Jade plant

  • Scientific name: Crassula spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Moderate
  • Other names: Japanese rubber pant, baby jade, friendship tree, lucky plant
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, lethargy, incoordination

Aloe Vera

  • Scientific name: Aloe Vera
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: First aid plant
  • Toxic compound: Saponins, anthraquinone glycosides
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy

Anthurium

  • Scientific name: Anthurium scherzeranum
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Common names: Pigtail plant, painter’s pallet, laceleaf, oilcloth flower, flamingo lily and tail flower
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and skin irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite

Pothos

  • Scientific name: Epipremnum aureum
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Devil’s ivy, golden pothos, taro vine, silver vine, ivy arum, hunter’s robe
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Elephant Ear

  • Scientific name: Colocasia spp.
  • Other names: Tarul, karkala ko ganu, elephant-ear, taro, cocoyam, dasheen, chembu, champadhumpa, shavige gadde, eddoe.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing

 

Cordyline

  • Scientific name: Cordyline spp.
  • Other names: Ti-plant
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Leaves
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dilated pupils

Schefflera

  • Scientific name: Schefflera spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Umbrella plant, Australian ivy palm, star leaf, octopus tree
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Asparagus fern

  • Scientific name: Asparagus aethiopicus
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Other names: Sprenger’s asparagus, foxtail fern, emerald feather, emerald fern
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Berries
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal disturbances and skin irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, pawing at the mouth, oral swelling, and pain, vomiting, loss of appetite.

Sansevieria

  • Scientific name: Sansevieria spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Mild gastrointestinal upset
  • Symptoms: Nausea, drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea

Corn plant (dracaena)

  • Scientific name: Dracaena spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Corn plant, cornstalk plant, dragon tree, ribbon plant, money tree
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Leaves
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dilated pupils

Philodendron

Scientific name: Philodendron spp.

  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: The philodendron comes in over 400 species, some common names include split-leaf philodendron, horsehead philodendron, cordatum, fiddle-leaf, panda plant, red emerald, red princess, saddle leaf
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, and swelling, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Fiddle-leaf fig

  • Scientific name: Ficus lyrata
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: Sap
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite

Yucca plant

  • Scientific name: Yucca spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Leaves
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, dilated pupils

Hippeastrum 

  • Scientific name: Hippeastrum spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Belladonna lily, naked lady, resurrection lily, butterfly amaryllis, St Joseph lily
  • Toxic compound: Lycorine
  • Toxic parts: All parts, the bulb, and leaves are the most toxic
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and tremors

Calla lily

  • Scientific name: Zantedeschia aethiopica
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Arum lily, calla lily, florist’s calla, pig lily, white arum, trumpet lily, white arum, garden calla
  • Toxic compound: Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
  • Toxic parts: All parts, the roots are the most toxic
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal and oral irritation
  • Symptoms: Drooling, oral pain, difficulty swallowing, oral ulceration, vomiting, loss of appetite

Bird of paradise

  • Scientific name: Strelitzia reginae
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Crane flower, bird’s tongue flower
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: All parts, fruit, and seeds contain the most toxins
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, drooling, lethargy

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia