Is Schefflera Arboricola Toxic to Cats?

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Schefflera plants + cat = not a good idea.

    Schefflera plants + cat = not a good idea.

    Ornamental plants often make a welcome, attractive addition to the interior of a home. However, if you own any pets, it's always crucial to know the ins and outs of a plant's safety before you ever allow your fluff ball anywhere near it. Toxic plants are a frustratingly common dilemma.

    About the Schefflera Arboricola

    The Schefflera arboricola is a beloved evergreen houseplant that also is referred to frequently by the name "Dwarf schefflera." The evergreen is part of the Araliaceae family, and hails originally from the Asian island of Taiwan. Since the shrub is a staple in many homes, knowledge of its toxicity is a must-have for owners of cats -- and dogs, for that matter.

    Toxicity to Cats

    According to the ASPCA, the "Schefflera" plant species as a whole is toxic for cats and dogs. The Schefflera arboricola certainly is no exception. The danger comes from the fact that all of the plants contain very sharp calcium oxalate crystals that, upon consumption, can trigger serious mouth and digestive tract irritation, not to mention swelling issues.

    Toxic Effects

    If you have any reason to believe that your little one may have eaten any part of a Schefflera arboricola plant, it's of extreme importance to monitor her for any symptoms of poisoning. Some key signs of Schefflera toxicity are strong burning of the tongue, lips, throat and mouth, problems swallowing, upset stomach and labored breathing. If your cat ate an inordinate amount of the plant, the consequences usually are much more severe, such as seizures, kidney failure and sometimes even fatality. Because of the serious potential for danger, get emergency veterinary attention as soon as you suspect ingestion -- no exceptions. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

    Appearance

    If you're able to spot a Schefflera arboricola quickly, you also may be able to remove your cat quickly from a potentially harmful situation. The plants typically attain heights of between 10 and 15 feet or so, and feature alternate, pinnate, deep green foliage. The green flowers are rather inconspicuous in appearance. Schefflera arboricola also bears very small round and orange fruit -- typically under half an inch in length.

    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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    • George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images