Toxic Snake Plant
Sansevieria trifasciata is an evergreen plant that has air-purifying capabilities and is generally kept as an indoor plant at home. Because of their impressive foliage and ease of maintenance, they make excellent houseplants whether they are placed indoors or outdoors. People usually aren’t poisoned by snake plants; they usually seem to have low to no toxicity.
However, snake plants can be toxic to our furry friends too. According to the ASPCA, snake plants can poison cats and dogs. These plants contain a toxic chemical, Saponin, which can cause unpleasant reactions. Any time the pet eats any part of a snake plant, toxicity can occur. The toxicity is mild to moderate for pets including kittens, puppies, dogs or cats.
Don’t let this worry you too much, especially if you already own a cat and a snake plant. We will discuss ways to prevent cats from eating the plant in the last section of this post.
Although snake plants are mildly toxic, the overall fatality rate for all species is on the low side. In addition, there is another fact that decreases the probability of life threatening intoxication from consuming snake plants. This plant is bitter in taste, making it unpalatable. As such, they tend to left them alone so that they can find a tastier lunch elsewhere. The plant is too toxic for most pets to eat in large quantities, so it is unlikely that he would consume a massive enough quantity of it to cause harm. Cats may develop mild to moderate gastrointestinal reactions, but most likely not to the point of becoming sick as a result of toxicosis.
The chemical Saponin is responsible for making snake plants toxic for pets. Saponin also acts as a natural insecticide and fungicide. The chemical saponin is what makes the snake plant bitter and also protects it from other microbes.
What does Saponin do?
Although the compound Saponin does its job very well by preventing insects and fungi from spreading, it is toxic for living creatures and creates gastronomic reactions when eaten. The juice of the plant is also capable of causing skin dermatitis. Dermatitis is a type of skin disease that causes irritation or a rash on the skin.
The risks of developing severe allergic reactions are elevated when people and animals ingest or chew snake plant leaves in excess. At worst, these reactions can result in esophageal swelling and the pain in the mouth. This may ultimately result in a threat to life.
Which parts of snake plants are poisonous?
The Mother-in-law’s tongue contains mildly poisonous chemicals and acids. Saponins are found throughout the plant. Since snake plant saponin occurs predominantly in the long upright leaves and stem of the plant, they should be avoided since they are toxic. Occasionally snake plants can bloom and produce greenish-white flowers that smell like lilies. When the blossoms are harvested, the fruits will be orange-red in color. The flowers and fruits are poisonous, and should not be consumed.
As cats are covered in fur, they’ll be unlikely to come into contact with the sap or juice of the leaf.
Will a snake plant kill my cat?
In most cases, the snake plant is very low in toxicity, which means that ingesting it will not pose a life threatening risk to your pet. The toxins are not very strong, and ingesting them usually means stomach upset.
Nevertheless, if your cat ingests a lot of toxins, it might be dangerous, but as previously outlined, it is extremely unlikely. It is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis and treatments will certainly have a positive effect on your cat’s recovery.
Basically, snake plants do not kill cats. However, you should definitely consult your vet if you see symptoms, and seek treatment. You should always be safe and take your cat to the vet. Even if there are no visible symptoms, but your cat has eaten the plant, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
In spite of snake plant’s bitter taste and burning sensation in the mouth, curious cats may be enticed to consume the plant. Pets will begin showing some symptoms of digestive problems after consuming any part of the plant. These symptoms are mostly related to gastrointestinal problems, since the plant is highly indigestible. You should still look for these signs of poisoning if your cat consume snake plants:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of organs such as tongue, mouth, lips, throat
Do not wait if your cat starts to show any of the symptoms above; take him or her immediately to the veterinarian for a checkup. Regardless of whether your cat ingested the plant or not, it is still advisable to call the veterinarian. Because these signs of poisoning are very common and could occur from numerous things.
Make sure your cat did not continue to eat the snake plant if you suspect it has. If visible pieces of leaves are in the cat’s mouth, try to seek medical attention.
If you cannot immediately reach your veterinarian or the ASPCA (Animal Poison Control Center) then call your local human poison control center.
Take a leaf sample from the snake plant, and find out its species name, so you can bring it along to the vet.
Remember the exact or approximate time your cat consumed the plant, and how much the cat has consumed.
Pets should not be forced to vomit unless your veterinarian advises so. Home remedies can be hazardous to cats.
Make sure the cat drinks plenty of water to prevent dehydration from diarrhea.
You may notice parts of the plant in your cat’s mouth in addition to the symptoms mentioned above. You may notice bite marks on the leaves of the plant. The vet will be able to discover potential complications and risks by reviewing the cat’s full medical history. Provide specific information about every houseplant you keep indoors and outdoors as many houseplants are toxic for cats.
An examination by a veterinarian is performed to determine the health of the animal and if there are any abnormalities. Additionally, a complete blood test and a urine test will be proposed may be needed to analyze the cat’s organ functions and general health conditions.
Almost all cat snake plant poisonings are treated as symptoms emerge. In some cases, no treatment is required, while in others, a short hospital stay may be required.
Removing plant material
Before starting any further treatment, the vet will ensure that all the plant matter has been removed from the cat’s mouth. To do this, one can simply rinse with water the teeth and oral cavities to remove any bits of leaves. Your vet may decide to induce vomiting in your cat if it has not previously been vomiting to empty its stomach. Expelling out the leftover plant parts will help cut down on eating toxins.
Some care options like antihistamines are used in the case of allergic reactions in order to treat the cat more quickly. The veterinarian may prescribe a few medications after a thorough examination.
Kapectolin – a precautionary remedy that coats the stomach lining while protecting the cat from viruses and worms.
Sucralfate – to decrease gastrointestinal irritation by interacting with digestive juices and helping to form a protective barrier around the intestines.
A vet may also administer electrolytes via an IV drip if the cat has become dehydrated from excessive vomiting or diarrhea.
Cats that have ingested this plant are expected to recover fully within a few days. Snake plants are considered a mild poison, so they are unlikely to kill your pet. In general, it should take 1-2 days. Make sure to take special care during this time. Take the medicine prescribed carefully to ensure a quick recovery.
Give your cat the prescribed food at the designated time provided by your vet. If your cat vomits after eating or taking the medicine, do not feed him again for about 12 hours. Feed your cat boiled chicken breasts (shelled and boned) and rice. You can also substitute baby chicken food. This will make the transition easier. Gradually replace chicken+rice with regular cat food over the next two days.
How to prevent your cat from eating houseplants?
Beautiful houseplants like Sansevieria Trifasciata or snake plants shouldn’t be kept near pets. Despite the fact that many plants aren’t deadly, there are still ways to avoid any discomfort or possible disaster.
You can prevent your pets from eating your house plants by following these tips and quick fixes.
If your cat can reach the plant, make sure to move it to a high shelf, preferably one that is out of reach. This will make it harder for your cat to climb and gobble up the plant, especially if you have a kitten or smaller cat.
Make sure to keep the plant in a room where all cats cannot get to it, and keep the door closed.
Lemon or orange zest can be squeezed on the pot rims for a strong pet repellent scent. Pets generally dislike citrus scents.
In addition to repelling the cats, cinnamon acts as a natural insecticide and fungicide for your snake plant.
For cats that chew plants, you can buy cat grass from a pet store or order it online. Cat grass is generally safe, but can sometimes result in vomiting when ingested. It will not poison cats.
In addition, since snake plants are hardy and can thrive nearly anywhere, you can remove them from homes and place them outdoors.
Keep your cat indoors so that you can be fully in control of the objects they encounter.
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