There are a lot of wonderful plants out there that aren’t so wonderful for your pets. In fact, a large percentage of houseplants are harmful to cats and dogs if consumed, and some can even be life-threatening.
Cas will often nibble to investigate a new plant, but some will actively try to chew the plant.
Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum spp.) are among the list of plants we’ve brought into our home and keeping in our gardens. But are these wonderful flowers safe to have around your cat?
Are Peace Lily Plants Poisonous To Cats?
Unfortunately, peace lilies (as with most members of the Araceae family) are toxic to cats. However, a few nibbles generally won’t prove fatal.
Peace Lilies Aren’t True Lilies (Thankfully)
True lilies (Lilium spp.) are highly toxic to cats. When consumed, a true lily can cause several severe side effects, including kidney failure.
Thankfully, peace lilies are far less toxic for pets, although they’re still far from edible.
Instead, they contain a compound known as calcium oxalate with a bunch of symptoms that are rarely lethal but are still nothing to meow at.
What Is Calcium Oxalate?
Calcium oxalate is a type of calcium salt created in over 1,000 different plant genera for reasons we don’t yet understand.
Formed from oxalic acid, the going theory is that forming these crystals is a plant’s way of detoxifying from too much calcium.
In time, calcium oxalate is broken down by bacteria and fungi, becoming calcium carbonate.
We actually consume calcium oxalate in many of the green foods we eat, such as broccoli.
The substance passes through our systems unnoticed in small quantities, but large quantities can lead to several symptoms, the most notorious of which is the formation of kidney stones.
Because they’re so small, cats exhibit adverse symptoms from consuming even small amounts of calcium oxalate.
Symptoms Of Calcium Oxalate Ingestion In Cats
Let’s begin by describing the most alarming symptom: oxalate bladder stones.
Before the rise of dry cat food as a replacement for fresh meat, oxalate bladder stones were pretty rare.
However, between the terrible nutritional value of dry cat food and the increased popularity of houseplants, cases of oxalate bladder stones have risen an alarming 30% percent in just the past 40 years.
Purebreds and older cats have a higher risk of forming stones, although any cat can be at risk, depending on their diet and access to plants containing calcium-oxalate.
Symptoms of oxalate bladder stones include bloody urine, difficulty urinating, and more frequent urination, which may include doing so outside of the litterbox.
Of course, many other symptoms are less severe, including the following:
- A loss of appetite
- Oral pain
You may also see your cat pawing at its mouth due to the irritation.
If you’re lucky and the cat only tasted the plant, you can usually treat the symptoms at home, but if it looks like they had more than a curious nobble, you should consult your vet.
Treating Accidental Calcium Oxalate Ingestion
The oxalate crystals are tiny but also very sharp, which is why cats feel pain and may have sore or even swollen gums, tongue, and throat.
If your cat only had a curious nibble, you can give them a little lactose-free yogurt.
Try to avoid regular yogurt, as cats are lactose intolerant, and too much will result in a case of runs on top of their other symptoms.
However, lactose-free yogurt can help soothe the pain by coating their throat, and most cats love this little treat.
You should still call your vet, especially if it’s an older cat.
If the cat took more than a small nibble, you should immediately call your vet for further instructions.
Depending on the cat’s consumption, they may prescribe an over-the-counter medication or ask you to come in for a checkup.
Some cats just don’t care about your houseplants, but others will nibble out of curiosity or may attempt to consume a plant due to a digestive problem.
In fact, cats don’t have a digestive tract capable of handling plants, and you’ll often see a cat nibbling on the grass to push a meal through their system if they’re not feeling well.
However, some greens, such as cat grass and catnip, aren’t harmful to cats and can actually benefit them.
Consider putting these more attractive greens where the cat has access while putting your peace lilies and other toxic plants somewhere the cat can’t go.
This is especially true of cats that get too curious, and you may need to create a special spot to keep your peace lily or put it in a room the cat isn’t allowed.
As always, every cat is different, so the lengths you need to go to keep your peace lily and cat separate can differ.
Try to use your best judgment when placing the plant and keep an eye out for any signs the cat may have interacted with it.