The elephant’s foot, also known as Ponytail Palm, is a favorite succulent around the house because it is a very low-maintenance plant.
However, many new growers wonder if their cats may get poisoned or sick after nibbling on the thick leaf clusters.
Let us clear your doubt; Ponytail Palm is safe around your cats.
The American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) clearly states that Ponytail Palm is non-toxic to cats and does not pose any risk of poisoning in cats of all ages.
However, nibbling on excess Ponytail leaves may invite problems and ruin the plant’s decor. Therefore, the felines are better kept away from the plant.
Read on to find out how to keep your feline friends away from the plant to avoid obvious problems.
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Is Ponytail Palm Toxic to Cats?
Unlike most houseplants, Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) does not contain harmful calcium oxalate crystals that cause cat poisoning.
In fact, the plant lacks chemicals like Proteinase and Proteolytic Enzyme and toxic agents like histamines and kinins, which irritates the mouth, throat, and lungs.
Therefore, you can be assured that Ponytail Palm will not affect your cat’s health or dogs, for that matter.
ASPCA puts Ponytail Palm on the list of safe houseplants around pet animals like cats and dogs
Although there is no reported case of problems caused by Ponytail Palm to the cats, you should try keeping it away from their reach.
Chewy points out that if your cat likes the taste of the plant, they will eat it.
However, nibbling on a significant amount of Ponytail Palm’s leaves and debris does not do good to their bowels.
In addition, if your cat ends up swallowing a leaf infected with fungus, it may lead to fungal toxicosis, where symptoms may relate to plant poisoning.
Read our complete care guide about Ponytail Palm
Symptoms of Ponytail Plant Problems
An innate behavior of cats, it is pretty standard and natural for them to nibble on plant leaves.
It is believed that felines get fiber and nutrients from plant leaves. Some even chew on it when they are bored.
However, ingesting too many plant leaves and debris from Ponytail Palm can be dangerous; eating too many fibers can cause hypermotile (boost in digestive tract movement).
Some animals intentionally ingest many leaves to induce diarrhea or vomiting to treat gastrointestinal diseases.
In addition, your cat may choke on leaves, causing shortness of breath and difficulties breathing, which can lead to problems.
Therefore, always watch these signs in cats to determine if they have eaten Ponytail leaves.
|Common Symptoms||How to Check?|
|Abdominal discomfort||If the pet is unable to sit in one position, produces audible gut sounds, licks at flank.|
|Vomiting||Frequent lip licking, producing more saliva, resenting to eating food.|
|Diarrhea||The affected pet has frequent loose stool.|
|Appetite disorders||Pet shows no desire to eat food anymore and includes loss of appetite and lethargy.|
|Weakness||If your pet is moving in weird way, is lethargic or hiding in a corner of the room, your pet might be weak.|
Most of these problems will subside immediately or after a while, requiring no further diagnosis or treatment.
However, you should immediately take your cat to the veterinarian if the problem persists, which may indicate some severe problem.
Diagnosing Ponytail Plant problems
As self-diagnosis, check for visible signs of plant consumption in cats.
- Bits of plant leaves around the cat’s mouth.
- Broken leaves lying on the floor.
- The visible sign of a cat nibbling on the leaves.
Before administering the treatment, your veterinarian will start with diagnosing the problem by checking the following.
- Assess medical history to determine whether your cat is predisposed to any health problem.
- Oral examination to look for bits of plants.
Further diagnosis, including blood sample or urinalysis, would not require in the case of Ponytail Palm.
Treatment of Ponytail Plant Problems
Ingesting Ponytail Palm leaves may not require effective treatments.
However, your veterinarian will administer some primary treatments to improve their condition.
They will begin with removing the plant residue from the mouth by cleaning it with water.
- Dexmedetomidine, hydromorphone, or xylazine will be provided to induce vomiting and relieve nausea.
- Antiemetics with the dosage of 100-200ml of fluids will be administered to stabilize vomiting.
- Anti-diarrheal agents Metronidazole and Tylosin will be administered to reduce intestinal inflammation.
How to Prevent your Cat from Eating Ponytail Palm?
Preventing your cat from eating Ponytail Palm comes with many benefits.
Not only does it protect your cat from the risk of vomiting and diarrhea, but it also protects the plant from damage.
However, keeping the curious cat away from houseplants can be pretty challenging.
Here are some proven tips to prevent your cat from accidentally ingesting the plant leaves.
- Use natural repellants: Sprays containing cayenne pepper or citrus help deter cats whenever they try going close to the plant.
- Grow cat grass: It will help remove the cat’s attention from the Ponytail Palm.
- Remove the Appeal: Spray lemon, lime, or orange juice around the plate to repel cats.
- Apply Neem Oil: Neem oil is an herbal pesticide that repels cats and bugs.
- Keep the Plant Away: Add pinecones or crumbled aluminum foil around the container to move their attention away.
- Introduce Hurdles: Place a plastic carpet protector with a knobbly side to irritate the cat’s paws whenever they step on it or introduce mesh fabric around the plant.
You should be extra careful if your cats tend to nibble on plant leaves and damage them because plants with damaged foliage may look less appealing.
Moreover, Ponytail Palm plants display bushier leaf growth which may easily lure the cat.
Therefore, consider introducing hurdles to prevent your cat from nibbling on it and keep it looking healthy.
Otherwise, place your plant outside to eradicate the problem.
Related Article: List of Houseplants Toxic to Cats