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Is Rubber Plant Toxic to Cats?

The Rubber plant has recently gained popularity among gardeners because of its large and rich green foliage. However, your cats may not like the Rubber plant as it is toxic.

According to ASPCA, the Rubber plant, significantly, the Ficus elastica and the Indian Rubber tree are mildly toxic to cats because the protein in their sap causes skin irritation, gastrointestinal discomfort, and multiple organ failure.

Read on to get complete information on the Rubber plant’s toxicity and the safe variety for indoor households with furry pets.

Which Part of Rubber Plant is Poisonous?

To be exact, every part of the Rubber plant, including the leaves, the stem, and the roots, is toxic to cats, dogs, and humans.

This is because Latex, a milky sap essential to transport nutrients all over the Rubber plant’s body, has an irritant compound called caoutchouc that can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes if in contact.
Moreover, Latex also has a proteolytic enzyme, commonly known as ficin and ficusin, with antigenic properties toward anything that attacks it, including cats, insects, or pests.

So, if your cat eats any Rubber plant’s part, it has a high chance of experiencing drooling, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite.

Playing with the plant without scratching it or breaking it won’t release sap, so it is safe for your cat unless there is sap.

Rubber plant leaves
Rubber plant grown outdoors saves the risk of toxicity to house pets.

In humans, too, it can cause allergies when in contact with skin and gastrointestinal problems when ingested.

Will a Rubber Plant Poisoning Kill my Cat?

The toxin won’t kill your cat instantly but can cause fever and other symptoms that won’t heal unless medical attention is provided.

Meanwhile, the fatality depends on the amount of Latex consumed by your cat.

The amount of sap near or more than 2mg will cause poisoning symptoms but can kill your cat if the latex intake is higher and there is no immediate medical attention.

The skin contact of sap from broken leaves and stems is rare in cats because the fur acts as a safety blanket.

So, washing the sap from the fur in case of contact will be enough to prevent skin irritation and allergies.

However, the eyes, nose, and mouth are even more sensitive spots for your cat.

The Symptoms of Rubber Plant Toxicity in Cats

When your cat is poisoned with the Latex of the Rubber plant, the symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth region become more prominent.

Your cats will take 15-20 minutes to show any rashes in the skin, as indicated by your feline’s continuous pawing.

The cats will increase their water intake due to dehydration, becomes restless, and gives out fluid feces.

Alternatively, they can become lethargic and inactive abnormally than the regular days, throwing up without eating anything with white froth as it starts foaming.

You can also diagnose the cat’s behavior to determine whether it ate the Rubber plant.

It includes signs like chewed and torn leaves, soil dust all over the ground, dust particles on the cat’s paw, and leftover leaf parts on the mouth.

A black and white fur cat is chewing on the leaf of Rubber plant that is lying over a study table.
It is difficult to note the cat’s activity so they might chew on the leaves without your knowledge.

Along with all the signs and symptoms, your poisoned cat is constantly in pain. Therefore, like humans, they whine in pain.

If not taken care of, the poisoning can be life-threatening to your cat.

A large dose leads to severe dehydration, heart irregularities, shock, high fever, and death.

First Aid for Poisoned Cats

Amongst all the turbulence, you should be clear that providing ultimate care from your side might not be fruitful if you are unsure about the dose ingested by your cats.

Hence, you need to call your cat’s veterinarian or any veterinarian nearest your location or contact the immediate helplines.

You should have the following information: your cat’s breed, age, sex, weight, symptoms, and the amount of toxin they ingested, if possible.

Until the vet arrives or you reach them, here are some things you can do.

1. In Case of Skin Contact

When cats come in contact with the Latex within the sap, it will cause irritation, redness, dryness, and itchiness.

It will start shaking the fur, body, or head. Here are some of the things you can do in such a case.

  • With your clean hands, wash off the area that came in contact with Latex.
  • Use the soap you have been using to bathe your cat. Soap water can clean the Latex properly.
  • You can also give a warm bath to wash off the toxin by asking your vet.
  • Provide well ventilation.
  • Use a blanket to keep your cat warm.
  • Feed your cat correctly, and be extra careful in keeping them hydrated.

2. In the Case of Ingestion

Your cat will start throwing up itself if poisoned. After several vomits and diarrhea, your cat becomes dehydrated.

However, do not try putting fingers or anything inside their mouth to induce vomiting, as it may further complicate or hurt your cat.

Here are some things you can do to help until the vet arrives in case of ingestion.

  • If your cat is cold, wrap it up in a warm cloth.
  • Move your cat away from the rubber plant and its broken parts.
  • Check for the presence of Latex in the mouth. If you see Latex, try washing its mouth with clean water and wiping it carefully.
  • Do not let it spread to the nose and eyes.
  • After asking your vet, if they suggest you induce vomiting, try using warm salt water.
  • If your cat is unconscious or shivering, do not induce vomiting but try keeping it hydrated.

Better be prepared by bringing some of the pets’ first aid kits like Pet First Aid, Rayco First Aid, NM2 First Aid Kit, and ARCA PET First Aid in case of such an emergency.

If the situation worsens, rush your cats to the professionals for on-time treatment.

Recovery from Rubber Plant Poisoning

The recovery phase depends on the amount of sap consumed by your cat and how worse the health situation was until the poisoning was handled by a medical professional.

Once the toxin leaves the body, it takes around 2-3 days for the symptoms to go away, but it takes a week to recover the whole body from the poison.

Do not panic if the symptoms persist even after the first week. Ensure to update your vet with the everyday health notes.

If the amount of sap swallowed is less than 2mg, the recovery takes less than a week.

In contrast, if the sap ingested is more than 2mg, complete recovery takes 2-3 weeks.

You need to check on your cat regularly until it recovers completely. Do not force if your cat is eating less or shows signs of weakness.

Till the full recovery surfaces, give your cat foods rich in fluids to ease the stomach.

How to Prevent your Cat from Eating Rubber Plants?

Along with the market-available cat repellant sprays, you can get creative and keep your Rubber plant out of reach of your cat.

Here are some ways to keep your furball and greens in your house.

  • Group your houseplants and place the toxic plants behind while keeping the non-toxic ones at the front.
  • Hanging Rubber plants on the balcony has shown some practical results, as your cat is likely to stay most of the time indoors.
  • Use cat-repellant sprays like Nature’s Pet Repellant Spray, Four Paws Keep Off, Ultra-Bitter Aid Spray, and Go Away! Repellent.
  • Keep cat-friendly chewing grass like cat grass, basil, mint, catnip, lavender, cat thyme, and mint.
  • Add coffee grounds to the potting mix, as the cat hates its smell and leaves your Rubber plant alone.
  • The chilly powder can also be used to keep the cat away.
  • You can also dilute lemon juice and spray it on the rubber plant to keep the notoriously naughty furry away.
  • Growing Pepermints near Rubber plants can also be an option to keep the cats away.

Watch the full video for more information on DIY Repellants!

Are Any Varieties of Rubber Plants Safe for Cats?

Although all the varieties of Rubber plants, including the Japanese Rubber plant, are toxic because they release sap on breakage.

However, you might be happy to know that the American Rubber Plant is a safe houseplant for cats and dogs.

The American Rubber plant, often called Baby Rubber Plant, goes by Peperomia Obtusifolia as a scientific name.

Although they do not cause deadly effects and irritation to your cats, they can still induce mild discomfort in the stomach if ingested in large quantities.

Otherwise, the American Rubber plant can be an ideal houseplant because it is non-toxic to cats and eliminates contaminants from the air.

To Sum Up

Being informed about the toxic side of the Rubber plant is always for the best, as the thick oval leaves of the Rubber plant can be a great attraction to your cats.

You can easily coexist with Rubber plants and your cat in harmony with safety and proper guidance.

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