Are Chinese Evergreens Safe For Cats?

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The Aglaonema, aka the Chinese evergreen plant, are some of the most popular houseplants in homes and offices, thanks to their resilient nature and high ornamental value. 

The common name ‘Chinese Evergreen’ refers to 21 tropical slow-growing plant species from Southeast Asia’s subtropical and tropical forests. These indoor plants belong to the genus Aglaonema from the family Araceae.

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They exist in various shades ranging from green leaves to dark green, silver, or gray, depending on the species and cultivar.

However, as with any tropical plant, cat owners should check this plant’s toxicity to determine whether it’s safe to have around their homes. Today, we’re addressing if Chinese evergreens are toxic plants when it comes to cats.

Is The Chinese Evergreen Plant Safe For Cats?

No, Chinese evergreen plants are not safe for cats. In fact, according to ASPCA, Aglaonemas are poisonous to cats, dogs, and horses. This is due to the presence of the toxic principle of insoluble calcium oxalates.

Why Are Chinese Evergreen Plants Toxic for Cats?

Aglaonemas contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, like almost all other plants in the Araceae family – Peace lily, Dumb Cane, Philodendron, ZZ plant, and Swiss Cheese plant.

The plant will release these crystals when your feline pet chews on or bites into a Chinese evergreen.

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Upon tissue penetration, these crystals can irritate the mouth, the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and cause intense pain. In severe cases, they lead to swelling of the upper airway, which results in breathing difficulties.

Related: How To Grow and Care For The Popular Aglaonema Silver Bay

What Are The Symptoms of Chinese Evergreen Poisoning?

Here are the common signs you need to watch out for:

  • Intense oral irritation of the mouth, tongue, throat, and lips.
  • Excessive drooling
  • Choking
  • Swelling of mouth and throat
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Inability to swallow
  • Skin irritation
  • Abdominal pain

These can occur right away or up to 2 hours after ingestion. Your cat may continue to show the symptoms above for up to 2 weeks after ingesting the toxin.

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Consuming larger quantities of Chinese evergreens can lead to:

  • Severe gastrointestinal irritation
  • Extreme difficulty breathing
  • Fast, shallow gasps (dyspnea)

If your pet ingests extensive amounts of Aglaonema plants, the symptoms will manifest much more severely. Besides any of the ones listed above, additional symptoms will show such as:

  • Violent convulsions
  • Renal failure
  • Coma
  • Possible death

Is it Possible to Recover from Chinese Evergreen Poisoning? 

Yes, it is possible to recover even from severe calcium oxalate poisoning. However, there could already be permanent liver and kidney damage in most severe cases.

What To Do If Your Cat Ingests Chinese Evergreen?

If you suspect that your feline pet may have ingested a Chinese evergreen plant, the first thing you should do is remain calm so you can reliably perform first aid steps. Don’t worry; most cases of calcium oxalate poisoning can be alleviated at home.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Once you notice that your cat may have ingested Chinese evergreen, quickly rinse out its mouth and flush it thoroughly with clean water.
  • After that, feed your cat some milk, yogurt, cheese, or any other food that’s rich in calcium to relieve the burning sensation and the pain of irritation. This is because calcium can precipitate some of the calcium oxalate crystals.

Most poisoned pets, including cats, can fully recover within 12 to 24 hours of ingestion.

If your cat is suffering from more severe gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea, you should carefully monitor it for signs of dehydration. Be sure to provide adequate fluid intake if necessary.

As a preventative measure, and in cases where there’s obvious oral swelling, you can give your cat an antihistamine medication. This will help prevent or reduce swelling, discomfort, and airway blockages. A medication to relieve gastrointestinal upset can also be considered.

If your furry friends’ airway becomes blocked due to swelling, visit your vet immediately. The cat will probably be kept under observation until the swelling subsides and breathing returns to normal.

Are you curious about other indoor plants safe for cats? Explore our comprehensive guide.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Ingesting Aglaonema Evergreen Plants

  • Plant your Chinese evergreens inside a plant terrarium.
  • Use some non-toxic, pet-friendly repellents. You can also try home remedies such as lemon sprays and lemon peels.
  • Put your Aglaonema in areas rarely visited by your cats.
  • Provide alternative safe plants such as pet-friendly grass to satisfy your cat’s urges.
  • Engage your cat in more playtime to alleviate boredom.
  • Train your cat not to eat plants by spraying water whenever it goes near your Chinese evergreen.
  • If you are growing these plants outdoors, make sure you’re using dry deterrents.

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Quick Chinese Evergreen Care Tips

The Aglaonema is an excellent low-light plant, with lance-shaped leaves, that does well in artificial light.

  • Lighting: Indirect light – No direct sunlight
  • Watering: Use clean water (distilled) at from temperature – No cold water. Keep soil moist. Wet soil leads to root rot
  • Potting mix: Well-draining soil
  • Temperature: 68° – 74° degrees Fahrenheit – avoid cold drafts during winter months
  • Feeding: Fertilize with 1/2 strength liquid houseplant fertilizer once per month during spring and summer
  • Propagation: Stem cuttings
  • Pests: No serious pest problems. Watch for mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, and scale. Control with Neem Oil

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