Is Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) Toxic to Cats?

Is bird of paradise toxic to cats?

Bird of paradise is toxic to cats, the toxic principle causes mild gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea and vomiting.

What is bird of paradise?

  • Family: Strelitziaceae
  • Scientific name: Strelitzia reginae
  • Common names: Bird of paradise, Crane flower, Bird’s tongue flower
  • Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Bloom time: Late winter to early spring
  • Toxic parts: Mostly the fruit and seeds
  • Toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic principle: Gastrointestinal irritants

Bird of paradise is a flowering perennial native to South Africa which is popular with plant lovers and florists for its unusual flowers which resemble a bird in flight. Mature plants can reach a height and width of 150 cm (5 feet). Bird of paradise can be grown outside in tropical climates, or indoors in cooler regions.

Note: The toxic principle of bird of paradise is frequently listed as hydrocyanic acid (also known as prussic acid), which inhibits the ability of cells to use oxygen in oxidative phosphorylation. Hydrocyanic acid is the toxic principle of Caesalpinia gilliesii, which also shares the common name bird of paradise as well as desert bird of paradise and bird of paradise bush.

Clinical signs

Symptoms of bird of paradise exposure are gastrointestinal, which may include loss of appetite and drooling due to nausea and vomiting. Most cats won’t ingest a large amount of bird of paradise. Fruit and seeds are the most toxic.

Treatment

Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of bird of paradise. They may recommend a wait and see approach if the cat is asymptomatic.

If clinical signs have developed, treatment may include fluids to treat or prevent dehydration and a bland diet to rest the gastrointestinal tract.

Due to the relatively low toxicity of Strelitzia reginae, the prognosis is excellent.

Prevention

The only way to eliminate the risk of bird of paradise toxicity is to not keep them in homes with cats, or grow in areas the cat cannot access. There are plenty of cat-safe options for plant lovers.

Feature image: Lotus Images, Shutterstock

Author

  • Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She 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. Full author bio