Watch out for that lovely philodendron… it is poisonous to your cat

Watch out for that lovely philodendron… it is poisonous to your cat

September 10, 2012 in CK Vets, Blenheim, Chatham, Ridgetown, Wallaceburg

More and more people are choosing to keep their cats strictly indoors, which is a good idea as long as they have lots to entertain them.

But all is not safe for your cat indoors! Some cats love to nibble plants. And if the plants happen to be toxic to felines then your cat could become very ill and possibly die. The most toxic plants are philodendron, Easter lily, lily of the valley or dieffenbachia. Certain ivies and yews can be dangerous, too. And don’t let them dig and snack on the bulbs of those lovely spring flowers (tulips, amaryllis, daffodils) that you’re carefully “forcing” early in the season either. That could cause major stomach illness…not to mention a mess!

And speaking of mess, some cats are search-and-destroyers of household greenery just for the fun of it! Others get a kick out of kicking dirt out of pots or even using larger pots as litter boxes. This may drive you crazy, but is natural behaviour for your feisty feline.

So does this mean you can’t have a cat and a houseplant? No!

Your cat actually needs and wants plants in your home. Let him nibble on pots of sprouting grasses in different spots throughout your home. Special blends of seeds for cats are available in pet stores and specialty shops, or you can purchase rye grass seeds at the nursery.

Cats love catnip and valerian, too, which are always better when fresh. While not all cats react to the pleasures of these plants, those that do will appreciate your keeping it in-house, and using fresh cuttings to recharge cat posts and toys.

But that’s not to say you can’t have other, non-toxic, plants around your home…a little training might be necessary though. Here are some ideas:

  • Plants on the ground or on low tables are easy targets, so make your houseplants less accessible to the cat looking for a little fun. Put plants up high or hang them
  • Make plants that you can’t move less appealing by coating them with something your cat finds disagreeable, such as Bitter Apple, from your pet store, or Tabasco sauce. Whenever you find what your cat doesn’t like, keep reapplying it to reinforce the training
  • Discourage your pet by spraying with a water bottle when you see him in the plants
  • Pot your plants in heavy, wide-bottomed containers, and cover the soil of the problem plants with rough decorative rock

The problem won’t “grow” away overnight. Behavioural problems often take time and involve a bit of compromise. Give your cats the greens he wants, protect him from the ones that might hurt him, and make the rest less attractive to him. You can both enjoy a green future!