Is Hypoestes Phyllostachya Poisonous to Cats?

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Hypoestes phyllostachya also is referred to commonly as the "polka dot plant."

    Hypoestes phyllostachya also is referred to commonly as the "polka dot plant."

    The mere notion of your beloved cat munching on an unfamiliar houseplant can be a rather daunting one. After all, a lot of plants can produce pretty dangerous results in animals. Hypoestes phyllostachya isn't toxic, but still may lead to relative discomfort in your feline, so pay close attention.

    Hypoestes Phyllostachya Background

    Hypoestes phyllostachya is the botanical name for the polka dot plant, which originates in the African island nation of Madagascar. The plant is part of the Acanthaceae family. The seasonally blooming and herbaceous polka dot plant is a common fixture in homes as a houseplant and, due to its colorful appearance, also often is seen as a bedding plant.

    Safety to Cats

    According to the ASPCA, Hypoestes phyllostachya is not considered to be a poisonous plant to cats. It also isn't toxic to dogs or horses, so you can breathe a sigh of relief there.

    Potential Harm

    Although Hypoestes phyllostachya isn't necessarily toxic to cats, that in no way means that the plant is 100 percent harmless, either. If a cat eats any part of the plant, the ASPCA warns that she may experience negative effects, such as diarrhea and vomiting, albeit not usually severe. Because of the possibility of discomfort, it's important to make sure that your cat never puts a polka dot plant, or any individual component of it, into her mouth.

    Identifying a Hypoestes Phyllostachya

    Keep Hypoestes phyllostachya out of your cat's life by knowing exactly what the plants look like. The polka dot plant, unsurprisingly, features "polka dots." The foliage is green with prominent pink spots or "polka dots" over it. Some polka dot plants, however, feature white or red rather than pink, although these are significantly less common. In some cases, the plant also features very small flower spikes that are purplish in tone. Hypoestes phyllostachya typically is around 10 inches in height.
    Other relatively common names for the decorative plant are Freckle Face, Baby's Tears, Measles plant and Flamingo plant. Memorize all of the names for your precious cat's safety's sake. Although the plant isn't poisonous to pets, it's certainly not worth your cat suffering from having eaten it, either.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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