Is Corn Plant Toxic to Cats?

Corn Plant in a Pot
Corn Plant in a Pot (Source: Instagram)

A few months ago, my cat had caught some leaves of lilies in her mouth and went blackout, having no response even when caressing.

So, I always try my best to keep my pets touching the houseplants whenever I go with them. If you own corn plants, you also need to preserve the precautions.

According to ASPCA, the corn plant contains saponin which can be toxic to cats.  It can cause severe reactions in cats, including loss of appetite, dilated pupils (mydriasis), and vomiting with blood.

Corn Plant in a Pot
Corn Plant in a Pot (Source: Instagram)

Cats are curious beings and can easily get access to even narrow and tall spaces so they might easily reach any houseplants and ingest them.

Today, I will help you find more information on how to protect your cats without having to replace your corn plants, and successfully skip the unfavorable incident.

Are All Dracaena Poisonous to Cats?

There is a total of 120 Dracaena species and Dracaena fragrant ranks top induce the poisoning effects in pets including cats. 

ASPCA has confirmed that Dracaena fragrans possess Saponins which makes the plant to toxic to pets such as dogs, cats, and horses.

Cat around Houseplants
Cat around Houseplants (Source: Instagram)

Besides, there are several other Dracaena such as Dracaena deremensis warneckii ulyses, Dracaena marginata, deremensis, reflexa, surculosa, and arborea.

All of these species contain the toxic compound, saponin and cause similar health reactions in cats, other pets as Dracaena fragrant.

How Toxic is the Corn Plant to Cats?

As mentioned earlier, different species of Dracaena, including Dracaena fragrant, (the corn plant) is toxic to cats and other pets such as rabbits, dogs, and horses.

Almost all the exposed plant parts including leaves, stems, and bark contain sap in them, which can be toxic to pets. 

According to an article published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, the toxic compounds present in the sap of these parts, which are a form of sugar derivative known as glycoside.

The molecules of saponin dissolve the membranes of red blood cells, causing hemolysis. This induces toxicity in most animals, including cats and humans.

Corn Plant in a Pot
Corn Plant in a Pot (Source: Instagram)

Saponins also irritate the digestive and respiratory tract membranes, causing diarrhea and vomiting in cats.

Frontiers has mentioned only a single case of Dracaena-related pet fatality. Thus, the plant itself is not lethal to cats, but the saponin present in different parts of the plant is a potent toxin.

Symptoms of Corn Plant Poisoning in Cats

If your cat has nibbled any part of the corn plant, there is certainly going to be a mark. The cat can receive a bitter aftertaste and get irritated right away.

The extent of symptoms depends upon your cat’s age, health, size, and the amount of toxin it has ingested.

The most common tell-tale sign if your cat has eaten corn plants is diarrhea and appetite loss (anorexia).

The symptoms of poisoning may not be visible right away so it can take 3 to 4 days for the symptoms to appear.

SymptomsHow to Check?
Loss of AppetiteThe cat may stop eating food.
DiarrheaConstant passing of loos stool
VomitingThe cat may vomit with blood.
MydriasisDilation of pupils in cats
TachycardiaCat's heart rate might increase
DepressionNo interest in any activities
HypersalivationCat may be constantly drooling
Wobbly GaitTrouble walking

Diagnosis of Corn Plant Poisoning

Cats are prone to accidentally nibbling this plant as it is very similar to grass so if you suspect that your cat has ingested the plant, here are some ways to diagnose it.

DIY Diagnosis

  • The first way to find out if your cat has eaten the plant is to check any signs of nibbling.
  • Check if there are any remains of the plant in your cat’s mouth.
  • As the plant is bitter in taste, your cat also might have ingested some and spitted out some. 
  • If your cat starts showing primary symptoms like diarrhea, loss of appetite, and retching, be cautious as that might be poisoning.

Veterinary Diagnosis

  • As you bring your cat to the vet, also get the nibbled part of the plant (if any) for proper diagnosis.
  • Likewise, providing your cat’s entire medical history and report is vital for the prognosis and the treatment of the illness.
Cat Lying on Couch
Cat Lying on Couch (Source: Instagram)
  • The doctors may observe mydriasis or dilation of pupils in cats.
  • If your cat is still a kitten, the “drunk walking” is a tell-tale sign of corn plant poisoning.
  • After the diagnosis, they will also check and measure your cat’s body temperature and blood pressure.
  • The veterinarian will do some blood tests and investigations to check for the level of electrolytes in your cat’s system.
  • Likewise, the vet will also do a urine analysis to check for any damage to your cat’s vital organs.

First Aid and Treatment for Poisoned Cats

First do not panic! Do not try to make your cat vomit or feed them saltwater if you suspect any signs of poisoning. Also do not try to wait until symptoms subside.

Your cat will only worsen without proper treatment as the number of electrolytes in its body drops.

1. First Aid Treatment

First Aid treatment can be a life saver if the vet is unavailable in an emergency time. 

According to Cats Protection , you can give the following first aid:

  • Open all the windows of the room or move your cat to a properly ventilated area as the lack of air supply adds to uneasiness. Proper ventilation is necessary to regulate normal body temperature.
  • Insert your finger to pick out any remaining plant residue from their mouth.
  • Wash the cat’s mouth with clean water to remove any residue.

Vet Tip! Administer hydrogen peroxide (3% of solution at a dosage of 1 tsp. per 5-10 lbs. of their body weight).

  • Be cautious while applying hydrogen peroxide, as an accidental aspiration in cats can lead to aspirational pneumonia.
  • You can also provide your cat with an activated charcoal capsule as charcoal binds with toxins in the stomach, preventing absorption in the bloodstream.
pet first aid tool box
Pet First Aid Kit (Source: Amazon)
  • As your cat gets weaker due to diarrhea and vomiting, it is necessary for it to get proper nutrition. Try to provide protein in any form, especially milk.
  • Do not feed too much dairy as it can cause retching.

To start this, you may need the following kits!

First Aid KitContains
Cat First Aid KitTweezers, sterile gloves, resusciade, Wipes, CPRguidance leaflet
First Aid for Cats and DogsTweezers, Syringe, muzzle loop, adhesive tape, gloves
CATastrophy Cat Survival KitFood Pouch, Water Bags, poop bags, cat toy, blankets, leash, collar
RC Pet Products Pet First Aid Kit Exam Gloves, Antiseptics, wipes, cold packs, saline solution
Deluxe Pet First Aid KitSaline solution, medical tape, water bowl, gloves, forceps

If it is an emergency for your cat or any other pets, you can call the following Hotlines.

For more information, watch this video to learn more about how to help a sick cat.

2. Veterinary Treatment 

If you have no expertise do not try to administer any medicines to your pet. In case of poisoning, it is always better to take your cats to the hospital as soon as possible. 

  • If parts of the corn plant are still remaining in your cat’s stomach, your vet will induce vomiting by administering hydrogen peroxide.
  • According to MSD Veterinary Manual, the vets administer smaller doses (5-10ml) of hydrogen peroxide to stimulate vomiting.
Veterinarian Examining the Cat
Veterinarian Examining the Cat (Source: Free SVG)
  • The vet can also provide Intravenous Fluid therapy. The fluid consists of potassium, sodium, glucose, and other electrolytes, which help to restore electrolytes and flush toxins out.
  • According to WedgeWoodPharmac,  vets may prescribe muscle relaxants such as Methocarbamol for your cat. This will help your cat regain strength in its muscles faster.

Here are some medicines for cats to neutralize corn plant poisoning.

MedicinesDosagePurpose
Muscle Relaxant Methocarbamol: 7 to 20 mg/poundRelieves muscle pain, helps control wobbly gait
AntiarrhythmicsAtenolol: 1–2.5 mg/kgStabilizes heart rate
Anti-diarrheal agentsMetronidazole:7.5 - 10 mg/ kg

Tylosin:15 mg/ kg )
Treats diarrhea and intestinal inflammation
ProtectantsSucralfate:1/4 to 1/2 gm every 6 to 8 hoursProtects internal organs from toxins
Activated Charcoal1-5 gm/ kgLessens effects of poisoning
Antiemetics100-200ml of fluids at one time.Stabilizes vomiting

Disclaimer: The table above is only for educational purposes so you should not administer any medicines on your pet without a prescription of the professionals.

Recovery Stages from Corn Plant Poisoing

As the corn plant saponin is a mild toxin, cats usually make a full recovery within 12-24 hours. However, those 12-24 hours are filled with discomfort.

6-12 hours: Your cat will show different symptoms like loss of appetite, nausea, and excessive drooling.

12-24 hours: If symptoms are recognized and proper treatment is given, some cats recover after 12 hours.

However, in some, the symptoms might progress to muscle weakness, dilation of pupils, and vomiting with blood.

24+ hours: Most cats make recovery within 24 hours, while some require long-term hospitalization.

As no fatality has been recorded, it is safe to say that your cat will recover sooner or later.

How to Prevent Your Cats from Eating Corn Plant?

Cats are curious beings and love scratching, digging, playing, and throwing objects.

So you can prevent your pet from consuming or mistreating the houseplants including corn plants in the following way!

  • As cats are really sensitive to smell, you can prevent your cats from consuming the plant by making the plants smell unpleasant. Cat dislikes rosemary due to its smell.
  • Sprinkle some cayenne pepper on the plant or throw citrus fruit zest on the plant pot.
  • Keep cat-safe plants around the cat to take your cat’s attention away from corn plants. Plants such as mints, catnip, thyme, and lavender are entirely safe to consume.
Cat around Houseplants
Cat around Houseplants (Source: Instagram)
  • Surround your corn plant with other plants cats dislike. Cats don’t usually like being around plants such as cacti and roses as they have thorns. 
  • Spray some OTC pet-safe spray on your plant’s leaves, fruits, and stems. 

DIY Hack! Mix 1 part vinegar with three parts water and spray on the plant.

  • Coffee grounds also work as excellent repellents as a cat is not a fan of coffee aroma.
  • Hanging your corn plant pot is an excellent idea as your cat will not be able to reach such a height without support.

Conclusion

Corn plants have various therapeutic effects but cause severe poisoning and irritation in cats. However, this does not mean the complete elimination of the plant from your home.

Now that you are familiar with the adverse effects of Corn plants on your cats, I hope you will be more cautious with handling the plant if you are a fur parent.

You can take the given safety measures and be an excellent plant and fur parent for your babies.

If you own other houseplants and feel insured for your cats, you may also need to read Lilies, Gardenia, Pilea, Hibiscus, Alocasia Toxic to Cats

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