Is aloe vera toxic to cats?
Aloe vera is toxic to cats, the toxic principles are anthracene and anthraquinone. The clear gel contained within the leaf is non-toxic to cats, however, when cut, the leaf secretes a white latex that contains the toxic compounds. When ingested, intestinal bacteria metabolise these toxins, which form compounds that increase mucus production and water within the colon leading to gastrointestinal disturbances.
Aloe vera, which is from the Aloaceae family, is a common houseplant. Aloes contain anthraquinone glycosides which are purgatives (medications that encourage bowel movements). When ingested, these glycosides are metabolized by intestinal bacteria forming compounds that increase mucus production and water in the colon. This can result in vomiting and diarrhea. Other clinical signs seen with aloe vera ingestion include depression, anorexia, changes in urine colour, and rarely, tremors.
What is aloe vera?
- Family: Liliaceae
- Botanical name: Aloe barbadensis miller
- Common names: Aloe vera, True aloe, Barbados aloe, Wand of heaven, Mediterranean aloe, Chinese aloe
- Plant type: Succulent
- Plant height: 1 – 2 feet
- Toxicity: Toxic to cats
- Toxic parts: Latex saponins in the leaf
- Severity: Mild to moderate
- Toxic principle: Saponins (anthracene and anthraquinone)
Aloe vera is an evergreen succulent native to the Arabian Peninsula. The leaves contain a gel which is used in skincare products and dietary supplements.
- Abdominal pain
Most cases of aloe vera toxicity are mild and self-limiting and can be managed at home. If the cat has any underlying medical conditions and/or is experiencing severe vomiting and diarrhea, seek veterinary care.
There is no antidote to aloe vera toxicity and treatment is symptomatic support until the cat recovers. If ingestion was recent, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to remove any remaining plant matter from the gastrointestinal tract. Additional support may include fluid therapy to maintain hydration and electrolytes and anti-nausea medications.