A tranquil, well-maintained houseplant can seem like the most innocuous thing in the whole world, and often that truly is the case. When it comes to the combination of wide-eyed kitties and potentially poisonous plants, though, the reality is often a lot more frustrating and dangerous.
A member of the Arum family, philodendrons are admired for their attractive, vivid and thick foliage. These non-flowering plants originate in tropical areas of the Americas. Philodendrons are frequently found in homes as decorative features -- within easy reach of cats and dogs. With 200 species, philodendrons vary considerably in appearance, Penn Veterinary Medicine notes, but the vining heart-leaved philodendron is especially common.
Toxicity to Pets
Philodendrons are poisonous to both felines and canines. The "trouble" components of the plants are insoluble calcium oxalates, crystals known as raphites. When a kitty sinks her teeth into any part of a philodendron, it brings out the sharp raphites that can travel deep into the mouth's tissue and lead to unpleasant effects.
If your cat consumed philodendron leaves, you may observe the aforementioned oral injury from the sharp crystals -- think mouth irritation and severe lip, tongue and mouth burning. Other common symptoms of philodendron toxicity are problems swallowing, cramps, oral pain, throat and mouth swelling, labored breathing, low energy, excessive salivation, foaming, mouth pawing and throwing up.
In situations of particularly high consumption, kidney failure, coma and seizures are all possible. In vast amounts, philodendron consumption can even be deadly.
Seek urgent veterinary care for your cat if she ate any part of a philodendron. No time for hesitation here -- your cat's life may be on the line.
Sections of the Plant
Both the stems and the foliage pose a threat to cats. So don't allow your precious cat -- or dog -- anywhere near it. If you are ever uncertain about the safety of a specific plant, keep your pet away from it until you can research its potential toxicity.