Bringing the outdoors in can be an exciting and enticing experience. The scent of damp earth and fresh green leaves or bright blossoms is a draw for many who keep indoor plants. Some of these plants can harm the health of those in our households, mainly our feline companions. Some of the plants that are revered as common houseplants can cause serious ills to our cats when they are ingested. If you suspect your cat is having an emergency related to the ingestion of an indoor plant, it is advised that you seek proper veterinary medical care immediately.
All plants of the genus philodendron are toxic to cats. These plants, commonly used in indoor hanging arrangements, are known to cause a whole host of problems when ingested. The leaves and stems of these plants contain calcium oxalate crystals, which are the same toxic principle found in antifreeze, a notoriously toxic substance for cats. Side effects of ingesting philodendron plant matter include an irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, vomiting, problems swallowing or vocalizing, and a burning sensation of the mouth, lips, tongue and throat. Excessive salivation is also possible.
Grown by many as a useful household plant, aloe vera is poisonous when ingested. The fleshy, juicy leaves of this plant, known to soothe burns and cuts when applied to humans, can cause vomiting, intestinal distress, loss of appetite, depression and shaking. Changes in urine color are also commonly observed when aloe is ingested by cats. The active toxin contained within aloe plants are chemicals known as saponins. These chemicals cause bodily fluids to foam when they meet stomach acid.
Sansevieria trifasciata, called the snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue or good luck plant, is an ornamental herbaceous evergreen native to Africa. Used indoors for its dense, lush foliage, this plant is poisonous to cats when ingested. Much like the aloe plant, the snake plant contains saponins which foam when exposed to bodily fluids. This plant can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea when ingested. Unless large quantities of this plant are ingested, or side effects other than those listed occur, the ingestion of the plant is not usually considered a medical emergency.
The Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum, is commonly given as a gift during springtime holidays. The stark white flowers of this member of the lily family seem to glow with an ethereal quality. But these plants are startlingly toxic to cats. The exact toxin contained within the Easter lily is unknown, but cats who have ingested the plant have experienced vomiting, disinterest in food or water, lethargy, kidney failure and, if left untreated, death.