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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: How does Spathiphyllum affect cats?


QUESTION:
It there any references I can check out for information on how the Spathiphyllum might effect a house cat? Or more general information on poisons in plants and animal?

ANSWER:

The Toxicity of Houseplants, by Spoerke and Smolinske is great for this. I would expect the mouth might be irritated or swollen after a cat chewed on this plant, since it contains Ca oxylate needles. I don't know if they are packaged in the cells in such a way that this would occur, nor do I know of other toxins.
QUESTION:
I think my cat may have eaten some of my dieffenbachia plant (the excretions from the leaves). How can I be sure and what should I do? I called my vet and she didn't seem too concrened. He's vomited several times (total of 5 in the 6 years I've known him, he's 6).

ANSWER:

This is to be expected. Dieffenbachia has microscopic needles of calcium oxylate that irritate the mouth and GI tract. It probably has some specific irritant toxins, too. These won't kill the cat unless the swelling got so bad the windpipe were closed, and that rearely happens. It should make the cat miserable enough to train it not to bite house plants, but that depends somewhat on how educatable your cat is...