Pothos plants are extremely popular because of how easy they are to care for, especially for novice plant owners, as well as how pretty the different types of Pothos plants are. One kind of Pothos houseplant is Neon Pothos. Although this indoor plant only needs a simple neon Pothos care routine, its lush leaves are perfect for all plant lovers. However, if you are also a cat lover, you may have to think twice before keeping a Pothos plant in your home.
What are Pothos Plants?
The Pothos plant is an indoor plant that’s native to areas like Australia, China, and Southeast Asia, among others. These evergreen plants are basically climbing vines, with thick green leaves that are often heart-shaped, depending on the type of Pothos.
The leaves of a Pothos plant have a waxy and somewhat bumpy texture. These houseplants, also sometimes known as Money Plants, Golden Pothos plants, or Devil’s Ivy, are mostly grown as hanging or trailing vines.
There are many different varieties of Pothos plants available on the market. The variegated splashes of color in the base green of the leaves is often used to differentiate between the different types of Pothos plants.
For example, the Marble Queen Pothos boasts a color palette of green, light green, and cream that creates a striking marble design––no two leaves are the same. Meanwhile, the more common Money Plant leaf only has a few splashes of yellow here and there.
Pothos often have aerial roots that help them climb and grip almost any surface, be it a wall or a tree trunk. If grown outdoors in the wild, Pothos plants can reach quite high, and their leaf size can also increase considerably.
Pothos plants are easy to grow and easier still to propagate. They are ideal for office and home spaces, as they don’t require a lot of maintenance and care.
However, the biggest, and possibly the only issue with a Pothos plant is that it is not pet-friendly. No matter what type of Pothos, all kinds are toxic to both cats and dogs, as well as some other pet animals.
Photo by Becca
Why Are Pothos Toxic to Cats?
Though not poisonous exactly, the reason behind their toxicity is the presence of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves and stems of the Pothos plant.
So if your cat takes a bite out of these plants or chews on its leaves or stems, these toxic crystals are released and can result in a burning sensation or oral irritation for your feline friend.
As the toxic crystals pass through your cat’s mouth and into its throat, traveling down to the stomach, it inflames everything in its path because the toxins are absorbed into the surrounding soft tissues of your cat’s throat and tummy.
After ingestion, these adverse reactions can present themselves as the following symptoms:
- Itching in the mouth
- Pawing at the mouth
- Drooling or excess salivation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Decreased appetite
- Skin irritation
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What to Do If Your Cat Eats Your Pothos
Unfortunately, if your cat ends up chewing on a Pothos leaf, or taking a bite out of it, you’ll most likely see an immediate reaction. Your cat may start to drool in an effort to get rid of the insoluble calcium oxalates in its mouth.
You may notice your cat try to paw at its mouth to relieve the discomfort caused by itching and burning. As soon as you notice these signs, you should take your cat to a veterinarian right away.
Even though it’s unusual for any cat to consume a large enough portion of Pothos to cause significant damage, it’s still very uncomfortable for your cat. Better to seek treatment as quickly as possible, before the situation gets any worse.
In order for you to help your doctor make a correct diagnosis, be sure to take a sample of your Pothos plant with you, or take a picture of the chewed area. Since your pets can’t speak, you have to speak for them and explain the situation as best as possible
In most cases, your vet will perform a thorough oral inspection of your cat’s mouth and try to detect the presence and intensity of the insoluble calcium oxalates that have been ingested.
Depending on the severity of the cat’s reaction to the toxic plant, your vet will determine the best treatment plan. However, unless you take in a piece of the plant or a photo, it can be difficult for a vet to determine what specific plant may have caused your cat’s reaction, because there are a lot of plants that contain calcium oxalate crystals.
How Your Vet May Treat a Pothos Reaction in Your Cat
Generally, the first step of treatment when a cat eats a Pothos plant is to minimize the inflammation and put the cat at ease. This can be achieved by thorough washing and cleansing of your cat’s oral cavity. Washing helps to remove any toxins present in your cat’s mouth and helps to reduce inflammation.
The next step would be to move forward with a stomach wash, especially if your cat fully ingested a piece of the Pothos plant. The proper term for a stomach wash is a gastric lavage. This helps to clear out any toxins that have accumulated in your cat’s stomach.
Photo by Justjakedu
Once the toxin has been cleared out, the vet might feed your cat some dairy products to help relieve the pain. This is because dairy products are known to relieve certain kinds of pain in cats, especially the type of pain that’s caused by an insoluble calcium oxalate crystal.
To ensure that the toxin doesn’t cause any subsequent swelling of your cat’s throat and airways, your vet might administer some antihistamine medication to help curb the allergic reaction. Without this medication, your cat’s condition could become life-threatening if its reaction is severe.
If your cat’s reaction to the Pothos toxins is very strong and causes excess vomiting, your pet’s vet might use both anti-inflammatory and anti-vomiting medications, along with IV fluids to prevent dehydration.
When cats receive proper treatment, most of them make a full recovery after tangling with a Pothos plant. However, if your cat experiences significant dehydration, the vet might decide to keep it for a couple of hours just to monitor.
Similarly, if the reaction of your cat caused a restriction of the airways, your vet may decide to keep the cat until it recovers completely. You will also need to give special attention to your cat’s diet for the next few days. Just be sure to discuss any dietary changes with your vet first.
Granted, acting quickly can help mitigate any harm to your cat if it accidentally ingests a Pothos plant. However, prevention is always better than a cure.
How to Keep Cats Safe from Pothos Plants
Granted, Pothos plants are lovely to look at and are super easy to maintain, making them popular indoor houseplants. However, the truth is that the easiest way to keep your cat safe from the potential toxicity of a Pothos plant is to get rid of the plant or not keep the plant indoors.
If you can’t bear to part with your Pothos plant, it’s strongly recommended to place the plant somewhere high up, where it’s safely out of reach of your cat and any other pets. They make excellent candidates for hanging baskets.
However, many cats laugh in the face of heights and love to climb and play with long, trailing things. This means that they could theoretically still be able to jump or reach high enough to access your Pothos plant despite your best efforts. It’s important to carefully consider where you will place the plant to ensure it stays safely out of the reach of your curious kitty.
Long story short, are Pothos toxic to cats? They are, but to varying degrees depending on how much of the Pothos plant your cat actually ingests.
In order to keep your kitty as safe as possible, it may be best to find other houseplants you like that are more pet-friendly. We have lots of great info on different types of houseplants and how best to care for them, so you won’t be left hanging!
And if you can’t bear to give up your Pothos plant, just be very careful to ensure it’s placed somewhere that your cat can’t get to it.