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Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Cats? [5 Best Preventive Tips]

Behind the easy-growing ZZ plant, which stands tall even in low light, hides its toxic nature. Well, yes, ZZ plants are toxic to cats and other pets.

Generally, the Calcium Oxalate crystals found on the sap of the ZZ plant irritate cats, dogs, and pets when ingested or touched. When exposed, your cats show symptoms like vomiting, excessive salivation, and difficulty swallowing. 

However, the toxic nature should not keep you from growing these elegant plants. 

Throughout this article, you will learn about all the whys and hows about its toxicity, how to prevent them, and how to treat your cat when exposed to its toxins.

Why Are the ZZ Plants Toxic To Cats?

ZZ plant is an aroid plant, and like most aroids, it contains small and sharp crystals known as calcium oxalate crystals. 

According to the ASPCA, the needle-like sharp crystal of calcium oxalate penetrate the mouth’s tissues when your cat chews on the plant parts. This further enters into the blood of the pets leading to toxic effects.
ZZ plant
Actions like chewing the leaves and scratching the plant stem can leave your cat vulnerable to toxin exposure.

Despite being a plant defense mechanism against predators and a component to regulate the plant’s Calcium flow and maintain plant tissue rigidity, the oxalate crystals embed in the cat’s tongue, throat, and stomach, causing irritation and immediate discomfort.

So, if your question is ‘Are ZZ Plants safe for Cats?’, the short answer to this question is NO, as the crystals irritation can elevate to death of the cats in extreme conditions.

In short, ZZ plants are toxic to cats.

Which Part of ZZ Plants Are Toxic to Cats? 

You can find toxic Calcium Oxalate crystals in almost all parts of the ZZ Plant.

So, any part of the ZZ plant structure, like roots, leaves, stems, and rhizomes, that has its sap is toxic to cats.

While normal contact won’t do any harm, the plant’s sap on the eyes or skin, or if the leaves are ingested, the cats can start showing being poisoned.

Further, the level of toxicity also depends on the amount of plant nibbled on. 

Although the bitter taste of the plant makes them less palatable, the more your plant ingests, the plant severe would be the symptoms. 

Symptoms of ZZ Plant Poisoning in Cats

If only the skin were exposed to the toxins, the cat would start scratching and pawing itself.

However, if the cat has ingested the plant, you will see moderate cases of vomiting and diarrhea.

Here are some common signs of ZZ plant toxicity in cats. 

Symptoms Identification
Reduced AppetiteCat wont show any interest in eating and keeps avoiding food.
Oral Pain and IrritationYou cat keeps on pawing your mouth
Swollen lips, tongues and mouthRed swollen areas near the mouth and cat shows signs of irritation
Excessive DroolingFormation of excessive saliva and unusual drooling
DiarhheaConsistency of the feces of the cat changes into fluid
VomitingContinuously starts to throw up without trying to eat anything
FoamingWhite froths around the mouth of the cat
Dehydration Increased drinking of water and disorientation while walking can be seen.
Trouble SwallowingCats take long time tha usual to chew and swallow the meal
Difficulty BreathingCat starts to breathe rapidly

The symptoms above are followed by weak whining sounds when in pain.

In most cases, the cats will show signs of exposure immediately or within two hours of ingesting the plant.

ZZ plants' consumption by cats
After consumption, cats get intoxicated and show symptoms like puffy and watery eyes.

Since this plant is an irritant and tastes bitter, it is uncommon for a cat to have ingested a large amount. However, if such cases occur, the symptoms will also worsen.

Excessive vomiting and diarrhea are the main things to look out for in these cases. It can also put your animal into shock and make it unconscious.

If a large amount of toxins has been ingested, then your cat will slow symptoms like dilated pupils, cardiac abnormalities, coma, and death are also reported.

Treatment of ZZ Plant Poisoning

You must act quickly if you doubt the ZZ plant has poisoned your cat.

You should follow the instructions below as a first-aid response to treat your cat for ZZ plant poisoning:

  • Firstly, check whether there still are any traces of the plant in your cat’s mouth.
  • Clean their mouth with a wet cloth, and ensure you wash your hand afterward.
  • Help your cat drink cold milk or water to ease their pain.
  • Keep a close eye on your cats and see whether they develop major symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Give them extra care and love.

As you proceed with the first aid treatment for your cats, we recommend you contact a local vet or any hotline number below.

Disclamer: Don’t give any medication to your cats without consulting with the veterinarian first.

Recovery from ZZ Plants Ingestion

The sooner you get help for your poisoned cat, the better the chances of recovery for your cat will be better.

Generally, it can take 12-24 hours to recover from the symptoms of plant poisoning. However, in some cases, the symptoms persist for as long as two weeks.

The ASPCA Poison Control estimates that 25 percent of poisoned pets recover within 2 hours. However, sometimes the symptoms can persist for up to two weeks after ingestion.

So to speed up the recovery process, provide your cat with foods that won’t strain their digestive system, as ZZ plant poisoning mainly causes damage to the liver, stomach, and kidneys.

That said, you can give your cat treats during recovery as per professional advice, making it feel warm and cared for.

Prevent Your Cat from ZZ Plant Poisoning

There are no fully reliable methods to prevent your cats from eating or nibbling your plant. But still, prevention is better than cure.

These techniques below can help to keep them away from your ZZ plant.

  • Place your Plants Tactically:  Cats can climb in tough-to-reach places, so you want to place it somewhere it can’t climb. Hanging your plant in pots is a good way to ensure your cats don’t reach it.
  • Distract the pets: Place some fringes or tie a rope to keep your cats involved and distracted. You can also use cat toys to keep them busy and away from the plants. 
  • Keep some barrier plants: Use a fence to keep your cats running over the plants. You can also grow plants with thorns, like roses, and prickly pears as a natural barrier. 
  • Provide chewing alternatives: Help your cat suffice its green craving with some cat-friendly grass like cat grass, catnip plants, and catmints (Nepeta).
  • Use cat deterrent: Cats dislike the smell of citrus and peppermint oil, so spray some diluted lemon juice and mint oil around the plant. Or, use some mothballs to deter cats away from the plant. You’ll also find commercial cat repellent spray

From Editorial Team

Play a Co-existing Bridge!

As pet and plant lovers, we must be informed about the dangers of keeping a poisonous plant in our homes.

Make sure not to keep your pets unattended in a place full of plants. Maintaining a safe distance between your pet and potted friends helps them both co-exist in good conditions. 

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