Snake plants (Sansevieria), also known as or mother-in-law’s tongue, are popular indoor succulents, known for their air-purifying properties and low maintenance needs. As a cat owner, you may wonder if snake plants are toxic to cats.
The short answer is yes, snake plants are toxic to cats and to dogs too. In this article we’ll provide you with all the details you need to know to keep your furry friend safe and healthy.
What are Snake Plants?
Snake plants are succulents native to West Africa. They are characterized by their long, sword-like leaves that grow upright from the soil. Also known as Sansevieria plants, they can grow up to several feet tall, depending on the variety, and are known for their ability to purify the air by removing several toxins.
Are Snake Plants Toxic to Cats?
Yes, snake plants are toxic to cats. According to the ASPCA, snake plants contain saponins, which are toxic to cats and dogs. If ingested, snake plants can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats.
Snake plants, or Sansevieria, are indoor succulents known for air-purifying properties and low maintenance. However, they are toxic to cats and dogs due to saponins, causing gastrointestinal upset if ingested.
How Do Snake Plants Affect Cats?
When a cat ingests a snake plant, the saponins in the plant can irritate their gastrointestinal tract, causing vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, snake plant poisoning can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
If your cat ingests a tiny bit, it’s likely to cause only mild sickness, the severity of their symptoms is proportional to the amount they consume. Therefore, the less they ingest, the milder their sickness is likely to be.
What are the Symptoms of Snake Plant Poisoning in Cats?
The symptoms of snake plant succulent poisoning in cats may vary depending on the amount of plant material ingested and the cat’s individual sensitivity to the toxin. Some common symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
If your feline friend already has a preexisting medical condition or chronic illness, their likelihood of experiencing severe symptoms after consuming a snake plant is increased. However, it is rare for cats to consume large amounts of the plant due to its unpleasant taste and bitterness from the saponin toxin.
In the event that your cat eats a small amount of saponin, it is not typically fatal, and symptoms usually subside within a day or two. Nonetheless, it is always recommended to inform your veterinarian of the situation and seek their guidance. More on what to do below.
Snake plants’ saponins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration in cats, with severity proportional to the amount consumed. Symptoms may vary based on sensitivity to toxin and preexisting conditions. It is uncommon for cats to consume large amounts due to unpleasant taste. Seek veterinary guidance if ingestion occurs.
What Should I Do If My Cat Ingests Snake Plant Material?
If you thing that your cat has ingested any part of a snake plant, seek veterinary care immediately. The sooner your cat receives treatment, the better their chances of recovery.
A veterinarian can rule out any serious complications, particularly if they have ingested a significant quantity of the plant or are displaying concerning symptoms. Swelling, itching, or other adverse reactions may occur if your cat ingests a larger portion of the snake plant, necessitating urgent medical attention.
Your veterinarian may decide to induce vomiting to remove any remaining plant material from your cat’s stomach or administering supportive care like fluids to prevent dehydration.
If a cat ingests snake plant, seek veterinary care immediately to rule out serious complications and induce vomiting or supportive care.
How Can I Prevent Snake Plant Poisoning in Cats?
To avoid snake plant poisoning in cats is to simply keep these plants out of their reach. If you have a cat that enjoys chewing on plants or exploring new areas, it is best to avoid having snake plants in your home altogether. However, if you decide to keep a snake plant indoors, there are several ways to minimize the risk of poisoning.
Keep your Snake Plant out of your Cat’s Reach
Consider placing your snake plant in a hanging basket or on a high shelf where your cat cannot reach it. This will help prevent your cat from accidentally ingesting any part of the plant, especially if it has a tendency to climb or explore high areas. If you do not have any high shelves or hanging baskets, you can also use a plant stand or place the plant on top of a piece of furniture that is tall enough to keep it out of your cat’s reach.
Monitor Your Cat’s Behavior
Another way to prevent snake plant poisoning is to closely monitor your cat’s behavior around the plant. If you notice your cat showing interest in the plant, it may be best to relocate it to a safer location. Cats are curious animals and may be attracted to the long, sword-like leaves of snake plants. By keeping an eye on your cat’s behavior and redirecting its attention elsewhere, you can prevent it from ingesting any toxic material.
Use Citrus or Cinnamon
Cats have a heightened sense of smell, and these scents can be overwhelming and unpleasant for them.
One way to use citrus is to save the peels from oranges, lemons, or other citrus fruits and place them around the base of your snake plant. This will help to create a barrier between your cat and the plant, and the smell will discourage them from approaching. Similarly, cinnamon sticks can be placed around the base of the plant or even inside the soil to help deter your cat.
Use a Deterrent Spray
Using a deterrent spray is another effective way to prevent cats from chewing on your snake plant. These sprays are typically formulated to have a bitter or unpleasant taste, which can discourage cats from approaching or chewing on plants.
Deterrent sprays are available in pet stores and online, and they are usually safe for both cats and plants. Before applying the spray, make sure to read the instructions carefully and follow them closely. Most sprays need to be applied to the entire plant, including the leaves, stems, and soil. It is also important to note that the spray will need to be reapplied periodically to maintain its effectiveness.
Invest in a Motion-Activated Spray
This type of spray is designed to activate whenever your cat approaches the plant, releasing a harmless burst of water that deters them from continuing to chew or approach the plant.
Motion-activated sprays are easy to use and typically require only a few batteries to operate. They can be set up near your snake plant and adjusted to the appropriate spray range and sensitivity level. Whenever your cat comes close to the plant, the spray will be activated and deter them from getting too close. Some sprays may contain chemicals that could harm your cat or damage your plant. Look for a spray that is labeled as pet-safe and plant-friendly.
Provide Alternative Chewing Options
Chewing is a natural behavior for cats, and providing them with appropriate outlets for this behavior can help deter them from chewing on plants that may be harmful.
There are a variety of alternative chewing options available for cats, including dental chews, cat grass, and chew toys. Dental chews are specifically designed to promote dental health in cats and can help satisfy their natural urge to chew. Cat grass, which is a type of grass that is safe for cats to eat, is another great option that can provide your cat with a healthy and safe chewing outlet.
Prevent snake plant poisoning in cats by keeping plants out of reach, monitoring cat behavior, using citrus or cinnamon, deterrent sprays, and motion-activated sprays. Providing alternative chewing options like dental chews, cat grass, and chew toys can satisfy cats’ natural urge to chew and prevent them from ingesting toxic plants.
Can Other Plants Be Toxic to Cats?
Yes, there are many other plants that can be toxic to cats. Some common toxic plants include:
- Azaleas and Rhododendrons
- Tulips and Daffodils
- Sago Palm
- English Ivy
If you have plants in your home and are unsure if they are safe for your cat, it is best to consult with your veterinarian or do some research online to ensure they are not toxic.
If you are a cat owner thinking of adding snake plants to your home décor, it is key to be aware of the potential risks to your furry friend. While snake plants are popular for their air-purifying properties, they are also toxic to cats and can cause gastrointestinal upset and other symptoms if ingested. By taking precautions like keeping plants out of your cat’s reach and monitoring their behavior around plants, you can help keep your cat safe and healthy. As always, if you suspect your cat has ingested any toxic material, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.