Is Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica) Toxic to Cats?

Last Updated on October 3, 2021 by Julia Wilson

Is rubber plant toxic to cats?

Rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is toxic to cats. The toxic principles are ficin and ficusin that are enzymes present in the milky sap leading to skin and gastrointestinal irritation.

What is rubber plant?

  • Family: Moraceae
  • Botanical name: Ficus elastica
  • Common names: Rubber plant, Rubber bush, Rubber tree, Indian rubber plant
  • Toxicity: Toxic to cats
  • Toxic parts: Stems and leaves
  • Severity: Mild
  • Toxic principle: Ficin and ficusin enzymes

Rubber plants are a popular ornamental plant with wide, oval, glossy leaves. Ficus is predominantly grown as an indoor plant, although grows well outside in tropical climates. When cut, a milky white sap which contains latex oozes from the plant.

Popular cultivars include Ficus elastica Robusta, Tricolour and Decora.

Clinical signs

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. Gastrointestinal signs can develop if the cat eats any part of a rubber plant.

Emergency first aid

Carefully remove any remaining plant matter from the cat and offer a drink of something tasty such as tuna juice or milk. Monitor your cat and contact a veterinarian or pet poison helpline if clinical signs develop.

Treatment

There is no antidote for rubber plant exposure and treatment is aimed at managing clinical signs. This may include fluid therapy to prevent or treat dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, withhold food for 24 hours or switch the cat to a bland diet to rest the gastrointestinal tract.

Prevention

Ficus elastica toxicity is generally regarded as mild and self-limiting. Kittens are generally at greatest risk as they are more prone to chewing. Keep out of reach if your kitten or cat shows an interest in your rubber plant. Alternatively, if you are concerned about the safety of rubber plants and cats, opt cat-safe plants instead.