How Toxic Are Snake Plants to Cats?

Cat Chewing Snake Plant
Cat Chewing Snake Plant (Source: Reddit)

Indoor plants became my support system during the pandemic. A quiet living thing in the house that stayed by my side through all ranges of emotions I went through every day.

Snake plant’s resilience to even the most careless gardener is impressive. But the flip side to this seemingly perfect plant stacks up if you’re a cat parent. 

Cats are curious by nature. They love to play with houseplants, nibble on them or simply destroy them.

Snake plants are known to be mildly toxic to cats and might cause them to show irate behaviors. It contains chemical compounds called Saponins, resulting in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if consumed or chewed on. 

Cat With A Snake Plant (Source: Reddit)

Read on to find out how toxic this plant really is for your feline friends and how to keep them away from the plant.

Will Snake Plants Kill My Cat?

The plant is poisonous to feline creatures like cats if ingested in high amounts. The mildly toxic snake plants are not powerful enough to kill your cat.

In most cases, the consequences of eating snake plants are usually limited to stomach upset. The same but a little more intense impacts have also been found in cases of dogs chewing on snake plants.

Also, it has a slightly bitter taste. And because of that, most animals do not take a second bite.

Similar to cars, snake plants are toxic to dogs as well. Read this article to find out more: How Toxic Are Snake Plants to Dogs?

What Make Snake Plants Toxic to Cats?

One of the reasons behind the snake plant’s low maintenance nature is Saponins. The toxins act as natural insecticides and fungicides that allow the plant to grow unattended for as long as it does.

The toxin is found in the entire plant. All parts of the snake plant pose a risk to your furry friends.

Even seasonally changing stiff, upright leaves, little white fragrant flowers, the long stem, and the occasional berries.

If your pet eats any part of the plant, it can have mild to moderate reactions. These include vomiting and diarrhea as well as increased heart rate among other symptoms.

The toxicity level for pets is low with animals such as kittens dogs or cats likely experiencing no ill effects from consuming Sapotin on their own.

However, it must be noted that this will vary depending on how much each animal ingests.

Cat With Indoor Plant
Cat With Indoor Plant (Source: Unsplash)

Honestly, Snake plants aren’t the most dangerous plants to your feline friends.

There are plants high in saponins like Tiger lilies, daylilies, Asiatic hybrid lilies, Japanese show lilies, Easter lilies, Rubrum lilies, stargazers lilies, Red lilies, Western lilies, and Wood lilies that are highly toxic even in small ingestions.

Even small ingestions (2-3 petals or leaves, the pollen, or even water from the vase) of these varieties of Lillies can result in severe, acute kidney failure in your feline friends.

So if you are a cat person, steer away from Lillies, any kind, to be safe.

What is Sapotin?

As mentioned before, Saponin is the chemical that makes snake plants toxic for pets. It acts as a natural insecticide and fungicide with properties to protect against other microbes too!

The Saponins in these types of plants make them bitter.

As a result, you’ll know if your cat has bitten any since they won’t be able to drink much fluid either way. The same goes when we humans eat something containing this toxin.

Not only will our stomachs hurt afterward but it could kill us within 24 hours depending on how severe ingestion was.

How is Saponin Harmful?

Saponin is not good for humans and pets, as it can cause gastronomical reactions when ingested. It does its job well in keeping insects at bay though.

The juice of the plant can cause skin dermatitis, which is a type of rash or irritation.

If someone chews on it too much then they will develop an allergic reaction that may lead to swelling in their oral cavity and esophagus.

This could threaten life-threatening issues due to the lack of air going into these areas.

Symptoms to Watch Out For If Your Cat Ingests Snake Plants

It’s imperative to pay close attention.

Be aware of any abnormal behavior your cat may be showing after making any new addition to your garden, no matter they’re toxic or non-toxic to your pets.

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and mouth
  • Nausea/Gag reflex
  • Vomiting/Foaming at the mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

What To Do After A Diagnosis of Snake Plant Poisoning in Your Cat?

There is no sure-shot treatment for snake plant poisoning. Symptoms will have to be treated as your pet experiences them.

It is advised to clean the cat’s mouth immediately. Remove plant materials and even try to get them to flush out what they’ve eaten.

You can also call pet poison helpline at 855-764-7661.

Some cases may not require any treatment at all. But there are cases that may merit a short hospital stay.

Remember to take your cat to be evaluated by your veterinarian if your cat begins to show signs of poisoning or allergic reaction mentioned above.

While ill, intravenous fluids may help with the dehydration following the vomiting and nausea or even stomach pumping.

Medications to soothe the stomach or antihistamines to reduce swelling and open airways may also be administered.

It might take a day or two for your cat to make a full recovery. Poisoning from this plant is very unlikely to cause death, only severe irritation for a few days.

Will My Cat Recover after Ingesting Snake Plant?

Well luckily for him (or her) this won’t cause too much damage because toxins found in them are not very powerful. And even small amounts can usually be excreted by cats with no ill effects at all!

If you notice your cat is not acting like himself, take him to the vet immediately! Early diagnosis and treatment will speed up his recovery time.

If you don’t act quickly, the plant ingestion could be fatal for cats.

How to Keep Cats Away from Snake Plants?

Only get the plant if you’re sure you can keep your feline babies away from the plant or train them to keep their curiosity and boredom at bay. 

You could give a plant room or area a shot by keeping the door closed to keep cats out.

Also, try caging the plants using wire shelving units. This will help protect plants and keep your cat babies safe.

Making the plant stink can also work as cats are very sensitive to smell. Throwing lemon peels in the soil or sprinkling some cayenne pepper around the plant can get the job done.

Or place the plant near a few plants that cats hate could help. Cactus, Roses, and other thorny plants are great choices.

Indoor Plants Safer than Snake Plants for Your Cats

I completely understand if you decide to give away your green friend to protect your pet. Just know there are other plants waiting for you.

So here are a few alternatives you might want to look into. 

  • Rattlesnake Plant 
  • Spider Plant
  • Parlor Palm
  • Baby Tears
  • Ponytail Palm
  • Boston Fern
  • Stag Horn Fern
  • Calathea Orbifolia
  • (Certain) Succulents
  • Polka Dot Plant

There may be people of the opinion that cats (or just pets in general) and plants don’t mix at all, but don’t let it deter you.

Try out different options and try to move on from the snake plants even though you fell in love at first sight with them.

My advice is not to quit your indoor gardening journey or give up on your homey nature collection so soon. 

Conclusion

I hope this gives you some options and ideas to nurture a colorful home as well as a healthy cat.

Be careful but dare to try and see what works for your gardening conditions and your cat’s personality.

Although your cats may be safe from the toxins in your collection of indoor plants, your feline friend still may chomp enough of the leaf to cause nausea or even vomiting.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If there’s any reason to worry and notice any symptoms or anything else concerning, contact your veterinarian immediately.

For additional information on any plant and flower you might be mulling over to welcome your house, remember to look for its toxicity.

Some plants are safe for pets but dangerous to humans and vice versa. ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant and their general website is a great resource to start with.

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