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Is String of Pearls Toxic to Cats?

Under the flawless pearly beauty of String of Pearls, don’t forget their toxicity to pets, including cats.

The String of Pearls is toxic to cats due to pyrrolizidine alkaloids in its sap. The ingestion of the Succulent in smaller amounts may develop diarrhea and vomiting, but severe poisoning can lead to critical liver failure in cats.

Continue reading to learn how to handle the situation if your cat accidentally eats the plant and tips to keep them away from each other.

How Toxic is String of Pearls to Cats?

The String of Pearls is one of the most exotic Succulents that has been reigning its glory worldwide.

But unfortunately, according to ASPCA, String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) is mildly toxic to cats, dogs, and even humans.

String of Pearls in hanging basket
The String of Pearls is one of the popular succulents with pearl-like foliage.

The main culprit behind the String of Pearls being toxic is the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloid in its sap.

The University of California has classified String of Pearls plants into class 2 &4 toxicity.

Class 2 toxicity means minor toxicity that includes minor illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting. Similarly, class 4 toxicity means dermatitis, including skin rash and irritation due to the plant’s sap.

Symptoms of String of Pearls Poisoning in Cats

Depending upon the amount of ingestion, the poisoning symptoms can vary, and small nibbles may not even develop any symptoms.

Here are a few tell-tale signs of String of Pearls poisoning in cats you shall look out for.

Vomiting or Dry HeavingThey will throw up even without eating anything.
Whining in a weak voice, dry heaving.
DroolingExcessive salivating is common in mild to severe poisoning.
Abdominal discomfortIf the cat is unable to sit in one position, produces audible gut sounds, licks at flank.
DiarrheaLoose stool is common in String of Pearls poisoning.
Skin rash and inflammationGrainy and red bumps may appear on the surface of cats skin
LethargyCats showing no interest in playing and appear weak, restless with minimal activity. They may even hide or sleep all the time.
Pawing at the mouthSkin irritation will encourage them to paw at their mouth

Your cat will likely develop these symptoms within a few minutes or hours.

Diagnosis of String of Pearls Poisoning

Remember, common food poisoning can also have identical early symptoms to poisoning.

Therefore, you must nail down the specific reason for your cat getting sick before you blame String of Pearls.

1. DIY Diagnosis

Inspect the String of Pearls your cat may have nibbled on, so you can be confident about poisoning.

Here are a few things to consider while inspecting the plant.

  • Broken foliage or stems on the floor
  • Plants residue lingering around the cat’s mouth
  • Strangled or damaged plant parts
  • Visible signs of cat paw scratches on the plant
  • Cat vomit around the plants
  • Unusual scratching due to skin irritation

Alongside these signs, if you notice your cat showing minor weakness or lethargy, contact for professional help.

2. Veterinarian Diagnosis

Before leaving for the vet, remember to take your cat’s previous medical cards or documents.

Once you get to the vet, they will most likely perform a general veterinarian’s diagnosis.

  • Analyze Medical Reports: Before administering medications, they must know about the immunizations, diseases, or other behaviors.
  • Oral Examination: To inspect any harm in the mouth from poisoning and remove plant residues.
  • Physical Examination: To test any abdominal discomfort, palpation, heart pulse, body temperature, and respiratory rate.
  • Blood Test: Create a biochemical profile of blood and complete blood count, which is useful for diagnosis processes.
  • Urinalysis: Analyze the physical and chemical composition of the urine to get information about the conditions of the liver.
  • Doppler Blood Pressure: To determine if the cat is suffering from hypertension or not from poisoning.

Even after following these processes, if they can not conclude, they may opt to do an endoscopy.

Treating String of Pearls Poisoning in Cats

The toxic nature of String of Pearls is cumulative, so consumption in larger amounts can become life-threatening.

Furthermore, you should give your cats first aid treatment even if they nibble just a little.

1. First Aid Treatment

While waiting for a vet’s help, here are a few things you can do as first-aids for String of Pearls poisoning in cats.

  • Bring your cats to a well-ventilated, well-lit room to ensure they will not have trouble breathing.
  • Regardless of your cat’s consciousness, please do not force it to vomit, as it will weaken your cat more.
  • If your cat struggles, you might want to wrap them with a clean, soft towel.
sleeping cat
If the cat is struggling, you can wrap them in a soft blanket.
  • Inspect the cat’s mouth to see if any leftovers of String of Pearls plants exist. If present, remove them with the help of clean water.
  • If your cat vomits, clean up the mess and the cat’s mouth with lukewarm water and properly dispose of them away from children.
  • Give your cat only one gram of activated carbon powder per pound of cat weight to absorb poisons in the stomach.
  • Do not feed your cat without consulting with professional vets first. Only provide them with things vets recommend.
  • As toxic alkaloids of String of Pearls cause liver damage in cats, give your cat clean water to drink as it reduces the risks.
  • You can make them drink water with the help of a syringe slowly if they do not drink voluntarily.

Here are a few hotlines you can rely on if you notice String of Pearl’s poisoning in cats.

Place a first-aid kit such as a Johnson First-aid kit in-house, as you can give emergency care immediately and prevent fatal injury.

2. Veterinarian Treatment

Vets are most likely to induce vomiting to clear out any plant leftovers in the stomach with the help of hydrogen peroxide.

Furthermore, they use intravenous fluid therapy to flush out more toxins and restore the electrolytes.

And lastly, vets will administer various medicines to treat your felines, such as Antiemetics, anti-diarrheal medicines, muscle relaxants, etc.

Here are some medicines your vet may use to treat your cat.

AntihistamineDiphenhydramine: 2-4mg/kg every 8 hours if neededTo minimize swelling, distress, and potential airway blockages caused by the body's inflammatory reaction
Antiemetics100-200ml of fluids at one time.To stabilize vomiting
Anti-diarrheal agentsMetronidazole:7.5 - 10 mg/ kg

Tylosin:15 mg/ kg )
To reduce intestinal inflammation and stop diarrhea
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)Robenacoxib:1 mg/ kg per day

Meloxicam:0.2 mg/ kg per day
To reduce inflammation and bring down high temperature
Muscle RelaxantsMethocarbamol:7-20 mg/ pound

5mg/ cat (Baclofen- causes toxicity on higher dose)
Muscle relaxation and control muscle spasm
Activated Charcoal1-5 gm/ kgTo lessen effects of poisoning
AnticonvulsantsPhenobarbital:2-3 mg per pound twice a dayRelieves nerve pain
ProtectantsSucralfate:1/4 to 1/2 gm every 6 to 8 hoursTo protect internal organs from acids and toxins.

Disclaimer: Do not administer any type of the medicine to your cats without consulting with vets.

Recovery of String of Pearls Poisoning in Cats

Depending on the immediate action for treatment and quantity of consumption, your cat is most likely to recover within the first 18 hours.

After giving them veterinary treatment, let your cats rest in a quiet, peaceful place.

Gorgeous String of Pearls in hanging basket
Depending upon the severity of the poisoning, your cat can recover within the first 18 hours to 2 or three days.

You can continue feeding them with soft, simple diets filled with enough liquid. Else you can follow the advice from a veterinarian.

How to Prevent String of Pearls Poisoning in Cats?

It is almost impossible to keep plants away from the sneaky claws of cats. Their curious nature can become an inevitable headache, especially when you own exotic plants alongside cats.

That said, there are a few ways to discourage cats from invading your plants and getting themselves sick.

I have included tips and tricks to keep your cats from String of Pearls.

  • Use hanging baskets: A String of Pearls plants looks much more stunning if placed in hanging pots. At the same time, keeping pots much higher will ensure no cat intervention. 
hanging String of Pearls
Hanging pots improve the elegance of String of Pearls while keeping cats at bay.
  • Apply cat deterrents: You can repel cats away from plants by applying deterrent sprays and sticky tapes
  • Grow cat grassYou can satisfy their hunger for grass by giving them edible cat grass. It will also act as a distraction and keeps cats busy. 
  • Entertain your cat: Bored cats are most likely to do stupid kinds of stuff, so give them lots of toys to keep them entertained most of the time. Also, take out some time to play with your plants.
  • Apply Neem Oil: You can apply multipurpose Neem oil to keep cats and other plant pests away. Also, citrus and peppermint oils can effectively repel cats from the plants.

From Editorial Team


Do not worry if your cat takes some nibbles from the plant because prompt treatment can reverse poisoning.

But you know, caution is much better than the cure.

Therefore, prevent your cats from getting near the String of Pearls.

Happy Plant Parenting!!

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