Is pothos toxic to cats?
Pothos are one of the most popular houseplants around because of their beauty and easy of care. However, you do want to be careful about having them around your furry loved ones because they are toxic to cats, dogs and human in certain circumstances.
Below, I’ll discuss in detail everything you need to know about pothos pet toxicity including how to treat it in case it occurs, the chances of recovery and prevention tips.
Is the Pothos Toxic to Cats?
Yes, pothos plants are toxic to cats. And the effects happen very quickly as you’ll see them experience discomfort.
Different cats will present their discomfort and even pain in various ways. But you’ll instantly notice it after they chew on or ingest the leaves or stems of the plant.
Note that this only happens then it goes into their bodies upon ingestion. Thus, the leaves and stems need to “break” which is when the problems start happen.
If his happens outside the body, for example your pet cat paws the plant or rips of part of the leaves or stems with its paws without using its mouth, there won’t be anything to worry about.
What Causes Pothos Toxicity in Cats?
The reason this happens is due to the calcium oxalate crystals that are contained in the plant. These are the toxic components. And all pothos have them.
However, these crystals are kept inside the leaves, stems and other parts of the plant and are only released when chewed on or consumed. This is true for cats, dogs and even humans.
The problem here is that if you look under a microscope, the calcium oxalate crystals look like needles. As such, they pierce through the lining o the mouth, tongue, throat, esophagus and stomach.
In the best case, they become very irritating. In the worst case, the cause a lot of pain, vomiting, swelling and even difficulty breathing.
To make things worse, the effects will last for hour and even days depending on whether your cat gets treatment or not and how much it has ingested.
Symptoms of Pothos Toxcity in Cats: What Happens If My Cat Eats Pothos?
Pothos toxicity symptoms will vary based on how much your cat consumes. The more they’ve eaten, the more side effects, the more intense they will be and the longer these will last.
The most common signs to look out for are:
- Oral pain including the mouth, tongue and throat.
- Excessive drooling
- Trying to scratch or relieve their mouth discomfort by pawing their face or mouth.
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hard time breathing due to swelling
Of course, the most obvious sign would be if the pothos plant looks like its been chewed on. Often you’ll see leaves or parts of leaves missing with big marks or tears.
How Fast Do the Symptoms Show?
The symptoms happen fairly quickly after they start chewing on the plant.
That’s because the component that does the damage is the sap. And once the leaves or stems are broken, the plant will “bleed” or release sap.
The calcium oxalate crystals are contained in the sap (which is liquid). This makes it easy to spread in your cat’s mouth, throat and digestive tract.
Once the sap touches the internal organs it will begin to cause irritation and other side effects.
As you would guess the lips, mouth and tongue will be the first to experience the effects almost instantly after the plant is chewed.
Will Pothos Toxicity Kill My Cat?
Fortunately, it is very rare that the pothos toxicity to cats, dogs and even humans cause any serious damage. The exception is when they eat a lot of the plant which also rarely occurs since the pothos is nowhere near delicious to the palate.
That said, while the sap itself is not fatal, the side effects can sometimes be dangerous.
That’s because one of the effects is swelling. And when this happens to the throat or blocks the airways, your cat can suffocate.
Thus, if you suspect that your cat has eaten your pothos and is exhibiting symptoms, it is important to take it to the vet for examination and treatment.
In rare occurrences (and bad luck), damage to the stomach lining can lead to complications. This can eventually cause long term problems or be fatal to your cat.
Diagnosing Pothos Poisoning in Cats
The only sure way to diagnose the problem yourself is if catch your cat in the act of eating the plant. Outside of that, it is important to get an expert opinion from a trusted vet.
Once you see symptoms occurring and a damaged pothos plant, make sure to take a photo of the plant and take note of all the symptoms your pet is manifesting.
Then take it to the veterinarian’s clinic and explain all the signs and symptoms thoroughly. This will help the vet assess the issues and do the necessary tests if they deem they are needed.
The diagnosis of pothos poisoning and toxicity will largely depend on what you tell the vet because that’s their starting point.
Still, the vet will examine your pets oral cavity to look for calcium oxalate crystals which will confirm the diagnosis.
Treating Pothos Toxicity in Cats & Recovery
Once the symptoms show diagnosis of pothos toxicity in cats, treatment will begin immediately. The earlier is stars, the less pain and discomfort your cat will feel.
Additionally, the sooner after ingestion you get to the calcium oxalate crystals, the less chance they’ll have going deeper into the soft tissues.
Of course, treatment and recovery go hand in hand.
The main treatment will be to try and remove the toxic components as quickly as possible Thus, the vet will try to get rid of all the calcium oxalate crystals form the oral cavity by using a wash to clear the mouth, tongue and throat area. A stomach wash may also be used to quickly flush out the crystals in the stomach lining.
By removing the cause, you’re able to eliminate further pain and complications that may happen later.
The other part of treatment is to alleviate the pain and discomfort.
This will depend on what symptoms your cat is experiencing. If it has swelling, then allergy medication like Benadryl may be administered.
Similarly, stomach soothing mediation will be given to help with the gastrointestinal pain or discomfort. Sometimes yogurt is used. Although if vomiting is involved, then mediation to coat the stomach lining is preferred.
Most cats will have a full recovery from pothos poisoning.
Usually, they’ll be sent home soon after the treatment. There are exceptions though.
For example, if your cat has severe swelling or experience dehydration due to the side effects from pothos toxicity, then the vet will treat those as well before allowing your pet to go home.
Since it will take time before full recovery happens (sometimes up to 2 week), your cat’s diet will be changed temporarily to something soft to make it easier to swallow and digest.
Pothos Toxicity in Cats Prevention: How Do You Keep Cats Away from Pothos?
The best way to prevent pothos toxicity in cats is to keep the plant away from your pet’s reach. Because the hassle and stress of pet poisoning can be very taxing, an ounce of prevention better than going through all the treatment and recovery.
Even if your cat is able to fully recover, as a loving owner the experience takes its toll as you will panic and be worried through the entire process because you don’t know what the end result will be.
Another option to keeping the plant somewhere your pet can’t reach, you can also use some deterrents to keep your pet from going near houseplants that are toxic to it.
Cats don’t like the smell of citrus. So, you can use sprays with lemon or orange oil in them to deter your pet from approaching the plant.
You can likewise be creative in making barriers between your plants that your cat can’t or won’t want to get around.
The important thing is to keep the toxic plants like pothos away from the paws and mouth of your cat to avoid accidental poisoning.