Is Ficus toxic to cats?
Ficus spp. is toxic to cats. The toxic principles are ficin and ficusin which are enzymes present in the milky sap causing dermal and gastrointestinal irritation.
What is Ficus?
- Family: Moraceae
- Botanical name: Ficus spp.
- Common names: Rubber plant, rubber tree, common fig, fiddle-leaf fig, Chinese banyan, Creeping fig,
- Toxicity: Toxic to cats
- Toxic parts: Stems and leaves
- Severity: Mild
- Toxic principle: Ficin and ficusin enzymes
Ficus is a genus of 850 species of mostly tropical trees, shrubs and vines native to southwest Asia and the Meditteranean. They are popular as an ornamental plant, and some species are grown for their fruit, particularly Ficus carica, known as the common fig.
The University of California has classed Ficus as class four.
Dermatitis: The juice, sap, or thorns of these plants may cause a skin rash or irritation. Wash the affected area of skin with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. The rashes may be very serious and painful. Call the Poison Control Center or your doctor if symptoms appear following contact with the plants.
Contact with the skin or mucus membranes causes redness due to irritation. If ingested, gastrointestinal signs can develop which include drooling, anorexia, vomiting and diarrhea.
Carefully remove any remaining plant matter from the cat and offer a drink of something tasty such as tuna juice or milk.
Contact your veterinarian or pet poison helpline for advice. They may recommend a wait and see approach to see if clinical signs develop.
There is no antidote to ficus exposure and treatment is aimed at managing clinical signs which may include fluid therapy to prevent or treat dehydration and electrolyte derangements, withhold food for 24 hours or switch the cat to a bland diet to rest the gastrointestinal tract.
The only way to prevent Ficus ingestion is to keep plants of this species out of the house. However, the effects of exposure are generally mild and self-limiting. Kittens are more prone to chewing than older cats, although some adults will show an interest in plants.
Grow cat-safe plants such as catnip or cat grass for cats who have a habit of chewing plants and look at other ways to distract them such as play therapy, trees and perches and interactive toys and puzzles.