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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: What plant has the common name of Zebra Plant, and could it have caused Leukemia?


QUESTION:
What plant has the common name of Zebra Plant?

ANSWER:

At least three different plants have this common name: Aphelandra squarrosa, Calathea zigris and Cryptanthus zonatus. I am not sure which one you have, but a number of list for pets and birds list Zebra plant as safe. I don't know which Zebra plant they refer to. maybe yours, maybe not. I don't know what they did for your cat, but $3000 seems like a lot of medicine!
QUESTION:
A beautiful, but our cat Murphy chewed on the leaves, and became real sick. We rushed him to the vet, they referred him to the pet emergency hospital, $3,000 later, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. Could this have been caused by the Zebra Plant?

ANSWER:

It is unlikely that chewing on a plant would cause instant leukemia, although most house plants are toxic. The more common ones cause a lot of pain and swelling of the mouth and GI problems. I am not saying your zebra plant didn't cause the problem, because I have no way of knowing which plant it was and I know little about these three species, anyway. Feline leukemia is usually passed cat to cat. One would expect a dying cat to be lethargic.