Are Pothos Toxic to Cats? Avoid these highly toxic tropical plants if you have a cat!

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are pothos toxic to cats

Are pothos toxic to cats? Pothos are beautiful tropical houseplants that are popular worldwide. What you might not know, however, is that it can be harmful to cats!

Pothos is a common houseplant that many people enjoy as it can purify the air in the home. It’s also a popular choice because of how easy it is to care for. A question commonly asked by pet owners is, ‘are pothos toxic to cats?’ You’ll need to be careful if you have pets as pothos is toxic to animals due to the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves and stems.

Keep your pothos plant in a room that your cat doesn’t have access to. Read on if you’re interested in learning more about pothos and whether or not these plants are toxic to cats!

Are Pothos Toxic to Cats?

Pothos are popular houseplants because they can adapt to many different conditions, including shady places in the home. They are commonly referred to as Devils Ivy, Golden Pothos, Ivy Arum, or Taro Vine. These plants are easy to care for, are pretty drought and pest resistant, and look lovely in pots and hanging baskets. They have heart-shaped leaves that are variegated and look beautiful.

However, there is one thing that many people who own or are considering owning pothos plants may not be aware of: pothos can be toxic to cats.

According to the ASPCA, pothos is toxic to cats and causes unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting. Cats can be affected by licking a pothos leaf as this can cause oral irritation and swelling of the mouth and tongue. These symptoms are painful to cats and cause stinging and burning in the mouth, leading to excessive drooling and difficulty swallowing. In severe cases, the airways will swell, and this could cause breathing difficulties.

Symptoms include

  • Upset stomach including vomiting and diarrhea
  • Irritation of the mouth, lips, throat, and airways
  • Excessive drooling/ hypersalivation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Can lead to kidney failure and death in the worst cases.
Are pothos toxic to cats? YES

In many cases, owners aren’t aware that their cat has eaten or licked a pothos plant. The first sign that your cat has a problem may be vomiting or pawing at the mouth. Cats can be more affected than dogs by toxic plants because they are smaller, and as they are more independent, their owner may not notice there’s a problem until severe symptoms develop.

What Makes Pothos Toxic to Cats?

Why are pothos toxic to cats?

Pothos has the scientific name Epipremnum aureum and comes from the Araceae family, which includes species such as philodendrons and some varieties of lilies. Like other plants in the genus, pothos contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which are toxic to humans and animals.

Pothos plants are not among the highest concentrations of these toxins; that honor goes to philodendrons and peace lilies. However, since pothos plants are so widely available and easy to obtain, they account for a significant proportion of reported cases where cats ingest insoluble calcium oxalate crystals.

What Do I Need to Know About My Cat and Pothos?

Pothos plants can be very toxic to dogs and cats if ingested, with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, and hypersalivation. If you suspect your cat has ingested pothos, take it to a vet immediately for treatment. You should remove any part of the plant from your cat’s mouth and wipe away plant juice.

If your cat has been sick and you’re not sure whether pothos is the culprit, take some of the vomit to the vet for testing. This will help the vet identify the plant and determine which treatment is necessary. There is no test for pothos poisoning, so the vet will make a diagnosis by identifying the plant and from your cat’s symptoms.

  • Don’t wait until symptoms develop; phone your vet immediately for advice.
  • Don’t attempt to induce vomiting. 
  • Don’t assume your cat will get better after vomiting.
  • Unfortunately, a cat that has been poisoned by a plant such as a pothos may not survive. If your pet has eaten any part of a plant’s leaf or stem, it’s crucial to call the vet immediately. 

A vet can identify what type of plant has poisoned your cat and flush the mouth and induce vomiting. If that doesn’t work, the vet may carry out gastric lavage (stomach washing). In some circumstances, cats may be given activated charcoal, which helps soak up any toxins left in the stomach.

Your vet will also provide medication for pain and to stop vomiting. In severe cases, cats require an IV drip as vomiting can cause dehydration. The good news is that most cats make a full recovery within 24 hours if they are treated quickly. Your cat may need to stay at the vet overnight for observations.  

If your cat has suffered from dehydration, it’s advisable to provide wet food, water, or cat milk to help restore fluids and improve your cat’s health. 

How Can I Keep My Cat Safe While Enjoying My Pothos Plant?

are pothos toxic to cats

Make sure that your pothos plants are kept out of reach of cats at all times. If you have small children, use childproof locks on doors to the room where your pothos plants are located to prevent accidental poisoning.

If you think that your cat may have ingested any part of a pothos plant, it’s essential to be aware of signs and symptoms so you can seek veterinary treatment immediately. This can provide peace of mind and may also save your cat’s life.

Final Thoughts

While it is possible to keep a cat and a pothos plant in the same home, it may be safer to get rid of your pothos. Remove any pothos from your home and get rid of those growing in your garden. Alternatively, keep your plant in a room that your cat doesn’t have access to.  

Be aware that your neighbor may have outdoor pothos plants or other toxic varieties, so keep an eye on your cat for symptoms of poisoning in the future. This won’t be a problem if you live in a colder area where tropical plants aren’t grown outdoors or if your cat doesn’t wander.  

Check out the ASPCA website for a complete list of plants that are toxic to cats. 

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