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Are Coffee Plants Toxic to Cats? Common Houseplants Examined

Vet approved

	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The coffee tree, Polyscia guilfoylei, is an attractive species that makes an excellent potted indoor plant. It is not related to coffee plants used for making coffee beans such as Coffea arabica. It flowers in springtime, with small white flowers and small berries. Although flowering of indoor plants is not common. Unfortunately, every part of this interesting plant is toxic to your cat.

Whether your cat has ingested part of the plant or brushed up against it, it could experience troubling symptoms. Read on to find out what these are, and what to do if you suspect your cat is suffering from coffee plant poisoning.

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What Is Coffee Tree Poisoning?

Image Credit: vjkombajn, Pixabay

The coffee tree contains toxins called saponins, which irritate a cat’s skin, oral cavity, and gastrointestinal tract if ingested. Your cat can be exposed to the toxins when it rubs against the plant or orally when it nibbles on or eats part of it.

You’ll be relieved to know it’s rare for coffee plant poisoning to be serious. However, if you suspect your cat has been poisoned, it’s still important to discuss with your vet or poison center.

Symptoms of Coffee Plant Poisoning

Your cat’s symptoms depend on how much of the plant it has consumed. If the exposure was brief or it ingested very little, you may not see any symptoms. If the feline comes into contact with or eats a large amount, however, it can show symptoms like:

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

If you don’t see your cat near the plant, touching it or nibbling it, but you suspect it’s been poisoned, take it to the vet.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Sick cat medicines
Image Credit: one photo, Shutterstock

To help with the diagnosis and your cat’s eventual recovery, you’ll need to provide valuable information to the veterinarian. Describe the symptoms to your vet and try to remember as accurately as possible when the incident may have occurred. Either bring the plant along or take pictures, so your vet can see what was eaten and how much.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a test for coffee tree poisoning, but your vet will use all the information you provide to devise a plan.

Thankfully, the majority of cats will make a full recovery from coffee tree poisoning. As we’ve already mentioned, it’s very rare for cats to suffer complications after this incident. However, it doesn’t make it any less scary what it’s happening to your cat.

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Conclusion

When it comes to plants, you have to be careful what you have around your cat. It’s best to keep plants known to be toxic out of your home, or at least have them somewhere your cat can’t access.

While cats don’t tend to eat things that are unfamiliar, curiosity and boredom can get the best of any feline. The ASPCA ‘s list of non-toxic and toxic plants can help you determine which species are unsafe for your pet. So, while you don’t have to sacrifice your love of house plants, you may need to restrict what varieties you bring into your home if you have a cat in your life.

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Featured Image Credit: Tixu, Pixabay

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