Is Rubber Plant Toxic to Cats?

Cat sitting near indoor plants
Cat surrounded by indoor plants (Source: Freepik)

If you are fond of houseplants, you probably already know that the most popular in-house tree-like plant has to be the Rubber plant.

In recent years, the Rubber plant has gained popularity because of its large and rich green foliage and low maintenance requirement.

Hence, you might wonder if any of your pets will let you have a Rubber plant as a part of your living place decor.

Is your Rubber plant, among the many lovely indoor plants, also toxic to cats?

According to ASPCA, the Rubber plant is mildly toxic to cats. The protein found in its sap causes skin irritation, gastrointestinal symptoms, and multiple organ failure. 

rubber-plant(3)-potted
Healthy Rubber Plant (Source: Unsplash)

Because of its irresistible looks, you may bring the Rubber plant to your home without knowing its toxicity.

You can make it work with your fur baby roaming all over the house.

Don’t worry, here is complete information on the Rubber plant’s toxicity from the symptoms to treatment, without forgetting the preventable ways.

Which Part of Rubber Plant is Poisonous?

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.

Cats are poisoned by latex, a milky sap secreted by Rubber plants.

Latex is an essential component of your plant that has a role in transporting nutrients all over the plant’s body.

The latex has proteins with antigenic properties towards anything that attacks the plant. Be it cats, insects, or pests. It is common for cats to go nibbling and playing with your houseplants. 

Sap drooling out of the stem
Sap drooling out of the stem (Source: Unsplash)

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.

The sap of the Rubber tree contains a chemical called caoutchouc also called Rubber which gives the plant its name. These chemicals provide elasticity in Rubber plants.

Despite its many benefits, Caoutchouc can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes. It will induce more severe effects if eaten.

Hence, the roots, the leaves, the stem, the whole plant is toxic. Therefore, it is your job to keep your cat away from the poisonous plant.

Rubber plant leaves
Rubber plant leaves

Among the proteins, a proteolytic enzyme, commonly known as ficin and ficusin, has the antigenic property to cats.

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

However, according to ASPCA, the toxicity is listed as a mild one, which is treatable.

Do you want to know if Rubber Plant is toxic to humans? Read on: Rubber Plant Poisoning Symptoms in Humans

Will a Rubber Plant Poisoning Kill my Cat?

The fatality depends on the amount of latex consumed by your 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.

Hence, Rubber plant poisoning can kill your cat if the latex intake is high and there is no immediate medical attention.

Poisoned Cat (Source: Pexels)

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

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

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

The amount of sap near to or more than 2mg will cause poisoning symptoms, and you need to take your cat to your vet as soon as possible.

The Symptoms of Rubber Plant Toxicity in Cats

When your cat is poisoned with latex of your Rubber plant that is 2mg or even less, it will take a maximum of 15-20 minutes to show the following symptoms.

The symptoms on the gastrointestinal tract and mouth region become more prominent.

In case of contact with skin, allergic reactions can be seen within seconds in most cases.

SymptomsTips to Identify Symptoms
Dehydration Cat will increase water intake.

Check for disorientation while your cat walks.

Restlessness

You can pull and test skin for tenting.
DiarrheaCheck for consistency of stool

Fluid like feces
Weakness/ Muscle tremorsYou cat will look tired and won't move actively.

Some body parts may twitch.
Nausea/ VomitingCat will throw up even without eating anything.

Continuous retching.
Reduced or loss of AppetiteCat won't eat properly.
Oral SymptomsItchiness around the mouth and nose.

Presence of White froths as cat starts foaming.

Production of more saliva.

Swollen up mouth area.
TachycardiaRapid breathing is the first sign.

Increase in pulse rate.

Increased heart rate.
High FeverIncreased body temperature.

Chills and shivering.

If not taken care of, the poisoning can be life-threatening to your cat.  Along with all the symptoms, your poisoned cat is constantly in pain. Therefore, like humans, they whine in pain.

Vomiting and diarrhea lead to severe dehydration, organ failure, and shock.

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

First Aid for Poisoned Cats

The most important thing is that you cannot ultimately provide a cure, be it the skin contact or ingested amount; hence, you need to call your cat’s veterinarian or any veterinarian nearest to your location.

Here are some of the helplines-

You should have the following information on hand: 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 it comes in contact with skin, the latex within the sap causes irritation, redness, dryness, and itchiness on the skin.

While playing, if your cat is exposed to sap, it will act differently. You may notice your cat scratching on the contact region.

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

  • Call your vet and act accordingly.
  • With your clean hands, wash off the area that came in contact with latex.
  • Use a soap that you have been using to give a bath to 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.
  • Do not induce vomiting without consulting the vet because skin contact is not the same as ingestion.

Here are some first aid kits you can buy and keep for such emergencies.

First Aid KitBrand
American Supplies Pet First Aid kitAmerican Pet Supplies
Pet First Aid Cat KitRayco International
Certified Pet First Aid KitNM2
ARCA PET Cat & Dog First Aid KitARCA

2. In Case of Ingestion

As soon as you find out that your cat has ingested the rubber plant sap, the immediate action should be expelling the poison out of the body to prevent its action.

Hence, try inducing vomiting ONLY after consulting your vet. Giving a little saltwater can cause nausea and induce vomiting in cats.

It is advisable not to try inducing vomit other than saltwater. Do not try putting fingers or anything inside their mouth to induce vomiting, as it may further complicate or hurt your cat.

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

sleeping-cat-pxfuel
Sleeping Cat (source: pxfuel)

Therefore, provide some fluids and try keeping your cat cozy until your vet arrives.

Also, here are some of the things you can do to help until the vet arrives in case of ingestion of poison.

  • 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 to induce vomiting.
  • If your cat is unconscious or shivering, do not induce vomiting but try keeping it hydrated if only your vet suggests.

DO NOT induce vomiting without asking any vet. DO NOT feed without asking your vet.

Diagnosis of Rubber Plant Poisoning for Cats

Take the poison ingested with you even if you know what plant caused it because knowing the exact component and chemicals that caused poisoning is essential for the correct diagnosis.

After a quick physical examination, blood tests and endoscopy are done to diagnose Rubber plant poisoning.

Cat Undergoing through Treatment
Cat Undergoing through Treatment (Source: Hippopx)

An electrocardiogram is used to study your cat’s heart function in case of unconsciousness.

You must provide a brief medical history of your cat to the vet. Try to calm yourself and establish well-informed communication with the vet.

Provide the information on the allergies your cat has if any. If your cat was under any medications, try not miss the information.

IMPORTANT: Take the part of the plant that your cat consumed to the vet.

Treatment of Toxicity 

After you provide first aid, observe the persistence of the symptoms again.

Since the sap is allergic, it would be possible that your cat has ingested only a small amount because sensitivity and swelling come as soon as the sap touches the mouth or nose region.

However, if your cat has ingested more of the sap, other treatments are to be done.

ALERT!!! The treatment process and the medicines are provided here for informational purposes only. Do not act without consulting your veterinarian.

Here are some of the common medicines prescribed by veterinarians worldwide for Rubber plant poisoned cats.

MedicinesDosagePurpose
Anticonvulsants

Phenobarbital:2-3 mg per pound twice a dayIncreases synaptic inhibition so the seizure threshold decreases as well as control the spread.
Muscle Relaxants Methocarbamol:7-20 mg/ pound

5mg/ cat (Baclofen- causes toxicity on higher dose)
Depresses the Central Nervous System and relaxes the muscles by depolarization.
AntihistaminesCetirizine:5mg/ cat

Chlorpheniramine:2-4 mg / cat

Diphenhydramine:0.5 mg/ kg

Benadryl:1-2 mg/ pound every eight hours
Acts by binding histamines to the cell receptors

Reduces inflammation and allergic reactions.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Robenacoxib:1 mg/ kg per day

Meloxicam:0.2 mg/ kg per day
Decreases the synthesis of Prostaglandins and relieves pain.
Anti-diarrheal agentsMetronidazole:7.5 - 10 mg/ kg

Tylosin:15 mg/ kg )
Reduces intestinal inflammation and movement and stops diarrhea.
Intravenous fluids12 to 30 ml/hour for 10 pounds catProvides electrolytes and water.
Protectants Sucralfate:1/4 to 1/2 gm every 6 to 8 hoursProtects internal organs from acids, enzymes and toxins.
Activated Charcoal1-5 gm/ kgPrevents the toxin spread in the body by binding with the toxin.

Your vet will give the medicines according to the symptoms and the situation.

Disclaimer: Do not buy and give the medication without consulting your vet.

Recovery from Poisoning

The recovery phase depends on the amount of sap consumed by your cat and how bad or 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; instead, update your vet with the everyday health notes.

If the amount of sap swallowed is less than 2mg, then the recovery takes less than a week. Instead, if the sap ingested is more than 2mg, complete recovery takes 2-3 weeks.

Give your cat foods rich in fluids to easy on the stomach.

Veterinarian Examining the Cat
Veterinarian Examining the Cat (Source: Free SVG)

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.

It takes time for the body to recover!

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.

1. Place your Rubber Plant Out of Reach

The easiest way to avoid your cat being poisoned is to keep the rubber plant out of their reach.

You can play with your cat or give it a safe to when you are at home. Keeping your plants on a tall stand or on a shelf won’t work for cats.

Unlike children, cats can climb and reach almost anywhere.

You can group your houseplants and place the toxic plants behind them while keeping the non-toxic ones at the front.

Plants hanging in a pot
Plants hanging in a pot (Source: Rawpixel)

So whenever your Cat feels like playing and scratching your plants, it reaches the non-toxic ones first.

Hanging some plants on the balcony has shown some effective results as your cat is likely to stay indoors most of the time.

2. Use Repellant Sprays

You can buy numerous sprays made to repel your cat from the plants or furniture if sprayed.

Some of the common cat repellants used by the plant owners are listed below.

The pungent smell of these sprays repels your Cat from going near the Rubber plant.

3. Keep Cat-friendly Chewing Grass

Your pets are curious and playful, just like children. Cats nibble anything like shoes, clothes, or plants.

Hence if you keep the cat-friendly chewing grass in your house, you can keep them away from the Rubber plants.

Some chewable plants are cat grass, basil, mint, catnip, lavender, cat thyme, and mint.

Cat Grass
Cats Playing With Cat Grass (Source: Reddit)

You may be interested in reading about growing cat grass in a pot for your curious cat.

4. Add Coffee Grounds to the Potting Mix

When you add coffee grounds to the pot, it acts as a pets repellant and keeps cats away.

Cat hates the smell and leaves your Rubber plant alone. Additionally, coffee grounds are natural fertilizers.

5. Use Homemade Natural Repellants

Cat hates citrus and their smell. Hence, use readily available citrus such as lemon.

You can dilute lemon juice and use it to spray on the rubber plant and similar toxic plants.

The chilly powder can also be used to keep the cat away. However, such repellants can burn your cat’s mouth and stomach for a while if they ingest.

You can also use vinegar by diluting it. Peppermints have a strong smell that can easily repel cats.

It might not show immediate results but try training your cat to maintain distance with the houseplants as favorable reinforcement.

Also, 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 are toxic because all of them release sap on breakage.

However, American Rubber Plant is considered a safe houseplant for cats and dogs.

The American Rubber plant is not only non-toxic to cats, but it also eliminates contaminants from the air.

American Rubber Plant
American Rubber Plant is Non-Toxic to Cats (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The American Rubber plant is often called Baby Rubber Plant. It goes by Peperomia Obtusifolia as a scientific name for your better identification.

Conclusion

It is always best to have proper knowledge about the toxicity of your houseplants towards your pets.

You do not want to see your fur babies in pain once they ingest toxic plants. Hence, you can easily coexist with Rubber plants and your cat in harmony with some guidance.

Know how to handle a poisoned cat in case such a thing happens. Rubber plants are one of the easy plants to have with their thick leaves that adds beauty to your decor.

Hence, being informed on the toxic side is always best for you and your fur babies!

Happy Planting!

0 Shares:
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like