Botanical name: Epipremnum aureum
Common names: Pothos, Golden pothos, Devin’s ivy, Taro vine, Ceylon creeper, Ivy arum, Money plant, Hunter’s robe
Toxicity: Toxic to cats
Toxic parts: All parts are toxic
Severity: Mild to moderate
Toxic properties: Insoluble calcium oxalates
Native to native to Mo’orea in the Society Islands of French Polynesia, but naturalised in India, China, Japan, Australia, and Indonesia, pothos is an evergreen vine which is popular as a houseplant for its beautiful heart-shaped leaves and easy maintenance.
There are ten varieties of pothos which include golden pothos, neon pothos, jade pothos, marble queen pothos, manjula pothos, pearls and jade pothos, glacier pothos, Cebu blue pothos, Hawaiian pothos and jessenia pothos.
Is pothos toxic to cats?
Pothos is toxic to plants, the toxic property is insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which are formed by specialized cells called crystal idioblasts. Raphides are bundles of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which penetrate the oral mucosa and throat causing intense pain and swelling.
As the cat chews the plant, crystals penetrate the oral mucosa and throat, which causes intense pain. In most cases, the cat will cease chewing the plant. In rare cases, swelling can block the airways, leading to difficulty breathing, this is a medical emergency.
- Intense oral pain
- Pawing at the mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Edema (swelling) of the mouth, tongue and lips
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing due to inflammation and swelling
What to do if your cat eats pothos
Remove any remaining plant material from the mouth and flush with water or milk.
Call the veterinarian or a pet poison helpline for ongoing advice, you may be asked to monitor the cat or bring it in for treatment. This will be based on symptoms, comorbidities and the amount of plant ingested.
If the cat appears otherwise well, apart from oral irritation, contact your veterinarian or pet poison helpline for further advice. If the cat is experiencing breathing difficulty, seek immediate veterinary care.
Treatment for pothos ingestion is symptomatic as there is no antidote. Most cats will experience short-lived symptoms and will not require medical care. Cats who have experienced prolonged vomiting may require fluid therapy to treat dehydration and manage electrolyte imbalances.
If the cat is experiencing breathing difficulty, seek immediate veterinary care.
Pothos can be grown in a hanging basket, out of reach of cats, however, the best way to prevent toxicity is to avoid bringing toxic plants or flowers into the house. While cats are generally more discriminating than dogs, they are unable to determine if a plant is toxic or not and may consume the wrong plant. There is a higher incidence in kittens, due to their curious nature.
Related: Plants non-toxic to cats