The snake plants, also called mother-in-law’s tongue, are evergreen houseplants often kept at homes, either indoors or outdoors, for their air-purifying abilities. Their ease of maintenance and beautiful long foliage make them one of the best houseplants to keep. Although they are safe and show little toxicity to humans, you need to be extra careful if you have pets around, including cats and dogs. Though uncommon, cats can chew on the plants. So, are snake plants toxic to cats? Can cats suffer from snake plant poisoning? Below we answer a few questions on cats and snake plants.
Are snake plants toxic to cats?
YES. Snake plants are toxic to cats and can be poisonous if ingested. The plant contains saponin, a natural chemical that protects it from insects, microbes, and fungi. The chemical causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling of the tongue and throat when chewed while contact with skin can cause irritation.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), snake plants are more toxic to pets than to humans, and severe cases of allergic reactions can lead to swelling of the oral and esophageal tissues.
Are cats allergic to snake plants?
YES. Chewing or consuming snake plants puts cats at risk of developing severe allergic reactions, effects including swelling of the oral cavity and esophagus tissues. Although cats have fur and saponins rarely come in contact with the skin, the cat will experience severe skin irritation if it so happens.
Will a snake plant kill my cat?
Snake plant poisoning in cats is unlikely to cause death because of the plant’s mild toxicity. Affected cats can make full recovery within 1-2 days. Be sure to follow medication directions to the latter and get rid of or place the plant where cats cannot reach to prevent recurrent poisoning.
Symptoms of snake plant poisoning in cats
The most common symptoms of snake plant poisoning in cats and other indoor pets include;
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive drooling
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, and mouth
So, are snake plants safe for cats?
Snake plants are not safe for cats. Small consumption can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as swelling of the tongue and throat. If saponins come in contact with the cat’s skin, though rare due to fur, the cat will experience severe skin irritation.
How to keep cats away from snake plants
You can start by placing snake plants in rooms your cat cannot enter or on raised places where cats cannot reach, such as against the walls with no climbing aids. You can also place the plants outdoors, especially if you keep your cats indoors at all times.
Another trick would be to squeeze lemon zest on the pot rims. The strong repellent scent will keep away pets, including cats and dogs. Alternatively, you can sprinkle small amounts of cinnamon in the soil. On top of being a cat repellent, cinnamon acts as a natural insecticide and fungicide to keep your snake plants in good health.
It’s true that while the snake plant is one of our most preferred houseplants, it’s not entirely safe for our lovely pets. Make sure to place snake plants in places or rooms your cat cannot access, or use other preventive measures such as squeezing lemon zest on pot rims or sprinkling cinnamon on the soil to prevent cats from chewing on the plant’s leaves.