Is Snake Plant Toxic to Cats

Last Updated on July 20, 2021 by Julia Wilson

Is snake plant toxic to cats?

Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata syn. Sansevieria trifasciata) is toxic to cats. The toxic properties are saponins which can cause gastrointestinal disturbances in cats.

What is snake plant? 

  • Family: Asparagaceae
  • Scientific name: Dracaena trifasciata. syn. Sansevieria trifasciata
    Common names: St George’s sword, Snake plant, Snake tongue, Mother-in-laws tongue, Viper’s bowstring hemp, Bow string hemp, Jinn’s tongue, Devil’s tongue, Golden bird’s nest, Good luck plant
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Toxicity: Mild
  • Toxic principle: Saponins

Also commonly known as mother-in-laws tongue, snake plant is a hardy evergreen perennial native to Africa. Its sword-like leaves have a distinctive striping pattern along the length and can grow up to three feet long.  Due to its ease of care and interesting foliage, it is popular houseplant, office plant and outdoor plant in warmer climates. Sansevieria is a hardy plant tolerates shade, drought, heat and most soil types. 

Snake plant was known as Sansevieria trifasciata, however, it has been subsumed into an expanded Dracaena. There are over 60 cultivars of Sansevieria trifasciata, including:

  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Futura Robusta’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Gold’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Futura Superba’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Golden Hahnii’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Cylindrica’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Robusta’
  • Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Black Jack’

Symptoms

Clinical signs associated with snake plant ingestion include nausea, drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases swelling of the lips and tongue. Most cats will not ingest large amounts as the hard leaves and bitter taste make them unappealing to chew.

First aid

Remove plant material from the oral cavity if it is safe to do so. Wear protective gloves to prevent being bitten.

Contact a veterinarian if the cat develops gastrointestinal symptoms or oral swelling.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for snake plant ingestion in cats. If the cat has prolonged vomiting and diarrhea, intravenous fluids may be administered to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.