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Is Schefflera Toxic to Cats?

Schefflera is a prized Feng Shui houseplant, bringing luck and wealth, but they are not so befitting to cats.

According to the ASPCA, Schefflera contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in all parts, making them toxic to cats. Schefflera poisoning results in oral irritation, upset stomach, hypersalivation, and in critical conditions, kidney damage.

Thus, let me guide you through a toxic profile of Schefflera so you can take preventive measures before anything unpleasant occurs.

Is Schefflera Toxic to Cats?

Commonly known as the Umbrella tree, all Schefflera species are toxic to cats.

The ASPCA has enlisted the Schefflera plants, including Schefflera arboricola (Hawaiian Schefflera), in the toxic houseplant list alongside other 400+ species.

Due to the presence of needle-like calcium oxalate crystals in its body parts, Schefflera is toxic to cats.

The oval-shaped, all-green Schefflera leaves easily lure cats into touching and nibbling them.

black and white cat stripped cat sitting under toxic schefflera plant
Prevent your cats from chewing the Schefflera plants by keeping them away and spraying neem oil.

Furthermore, pica behavior in cats, an eating disorder, may increase the urge to eat Schefflera despite their burning sensation upon ingestion.

Depending upon the amount of Schefflera consumption, the severity of poisoning can vary with varying symptoms.

What Causes Schefflera Poisoning?

Some Schefflera also produces proteinase and proteolytic enzymes besides calcium oxalate crystals.

Those enzymes release toxic agents like histamines and kinins harmful to cats.

Therefore, carefully position any Schefflera plant species away from cat reach to avoid accidental consumption.

What Parts of Schefflera are Poisonous to Cats?

Almost every part of Schefflera contains calcium oxalate, proteinase, and proteolytic enzymes.

Hence, all parts of the Schefflera plant are poisonous and toxic to cats.

Even if they nibble on the leaf tip, the plant will release a burst of crystals into their mouth.

Likewise, the water on the pot saucer can also contain crystals that can cause poisoning.

But do not panic if you suspect your cats nibbling Schefflera. With prompt and proper treatments, poisoning can be cured and won’t kill your cats.

Symptoms of Schefflera Poisoning in Cats

Once your cat eats Schefflera, they develop unusual, uncommon telltale poisoning signs.

Remember, the stem and leaves are the most common part that your cats may nibble on and suffer poisoning.

The signs of Schefflera poisoning may differ with the intake dosage and penetration level.

Schefflera releases the crystals causing tissue penetration and irritation to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.

Oral irritation, loss of appetite, dry heaving, hypersalivation, vomiting, and diarrhea are the common symptoms of Schefflera poisoning.

These symptoms can occur instantly or even take hours to manifest, depending upon the amount of ingestion.

Under severe cases, signs of respiratory problems can appear from the swollen upper respiratory tract.

Diagnosing Schefflera Poisoning in Cats

Diagnosing plant poisoning in cats can be tricky because many symptoms correlate to other common cat problems.

The signs of plant poisoning may correlate to food poisoning, skin problems, parasitic infection, and digestive issues (Tapeworm).

Start with checking for telltale signs to diagnose Schefflera poisoning in cats.

  • Schefflera leaves and stems lying on the floor.
  • The residue of leaves and waxy substance around the cat’s mouth.
  • Visible signs of bite marks on the leaves.
  • Due to a burning sensation, cats may throw up as soon as they eat the plant.
  • So, take a look around the plant to check for any vomits.

First Aid for Schefflera Poisoning in Cats

Here are some first-aid treatments you can perform while taking your cat to the vet under Schefflera poisoning.

  • Carry your pet to a well-ventilated area for easy breathing.
  • Carefully rinse off the cat’s mouth with saline or lukewarm water and clean off any plant residue.
  • Take a sample of plant residue in a clean plastic bag to show them later to vets.
  • Wrap them in a towel so they will not struggle.
Do not forcefully induce vomiting in your cats if you do not have any professional expertise. But let them vomit on their own and clean their mouth afterward.
  • Clean up the vomit and dispose it out of reach of other pets and children.
  • Administer activated charcoal syrup to detoxify the inside, per the vet’s suggestion.
  • Or use one gram of activated charcoal powder per pound of the cat weight.

Give them lactose-free milk to soothe the burning sensation if they can drink or eat.

Even after administering first aid, contact the vet immediately if the symptoms persist or do not lower.

toxic schefflera plant on a pot
Leverage citrus smell or other commercial deterrents to keep cats away from toxic Schefflera plants.

Remember to tell them the type of plant, dosage, and duration after poisoning to make it easier for the vet.

Here are helplines that can help you deal with houseplant poisoning in cats.

On the other hand, ensure that these first aid kits are ready at home to help your pets with prompt first aid.

First Aid KitBrand
Pet First Aid KitAmerican Pet Supplies
Rayco First AidRayco International
NM2 First Aid KitNM2
ARCA First Aid KitARCA

Duration of Side Effects and Recovery

The recovery duration may depend on the severity of the poisoning dosage and the time medication was administered.

  • Depending on the dosage, the poisoning may kick in within a few hours or 3-4 days. In comparison, the side effects can last between 12-24 hours.
  • Most early signs, such as drooling, itching, eye redness, and pawing at the mouth, may begin within 4-5 hours.
  • On the other hand, more severe signs such as periodic seizures, dilated pupils, and cardiac abnormality may show within 12-24 hours.
  • Failing to treat them on time may cause kidney failure and even death.

However, 25% of poisoned pets recover within two hours after initial treatment.

Hence, immediately administer first aid or take them to a vet to prevent severe issues.

Similarly, give them light, liquid food as per the vet’s suggestion when they are in the recovery phase.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Eating Schefflera?

Cats are agile, curious pets that explore every corner of the house. Thus, you must devise a plan to keep them from eating Schefflera.

Here I have enlisted some perfect plans to keep Schefflera out of cats’ reach.

  1. Make Your Plant Unappealing: Cats dislike the taste and smell of citrus. So, spray lemon, lime, or orange juice diluted with water on the plant leaves.
  2. Apply Neem Oil: Regularly apply neem oil, a herbal pesticide, to ward off cats and pests from your Schefflera plants.
  3. Gift Them a Plant: Providing them with a plant to play with, such as wheat, barley, or cat grass, will draw their attention away from Schefflera.
  4. Apply Chemical Spray: Use sprays like spritz deterrents to irritate the cat from coming close to the plant.
  5. Spray Vinegar-Water Solution: Cats dislike the vinegar taste, so spraying them on Schefflera will prevent them from coming close.
  6. Use Fragrances: Natural fragrances like lavender and rosemary will help your cat avoid the plant.
  7. Add Hurdles: Cover the plant with a plastic carpet protector with a knobbly side up.

From Editorial Team


With proper caution and strategy, you can enjoy flourishing Schefflera without harming your furry pets.

Place your Schefflera plants in bright indirect sunlight with temperatures above 60°F away from cats’ reach.

All The Best!

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