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Are Corn Plants Toxic to Cats? Common Houseplants Examined!

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


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

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The corn plant, Dracaena fragrans, goes by many names, including the ribbon plant, the dragon tree, and the cornstalk plant, but this plant is still toxic to cats by any other name. It’s also harmful to dogs and horses. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about your cat’s relationship with corn and corn products.

As a word of warning, if you think your cat has ingested a toxic substance, we advise that you contact your veterinarian immediately. If you don’t know what your cat ingested or how much of it was eaten, a veterinarian will best be able to guide you to make good decisions for your cat’s well-being.

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Is the Corn Plant Toxic to Cats?

According to the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants, corn plants are considered harmful to cats. The corn plant contains toxic steroidal saponins that can cause gastrointestinal upset. Cats may become severely ill shortly after consuming the plant, but poisoning is generally not deadly. Cats with cornstalk poisoning should be seen by a veterinarian immediately for treatment, but recovery is usually relatively quick.

leaves of Dracaena fragrans or corn plant
Image Credit: KPhrom, Shutterstock

What Part of the Corn Plant Is Toxic?

Unlike some plants which have safe portions, all parts of the corn plant are toxic to cats. Your cat should not be exposed to corn plants if it can be helped. Even if poisoning is rarely fatal, the symptoms can be frightening for the cat.

What Are the Symptoms of Corn Plant Poisoning in Cats?

Corn plant poisoning in cats generally appears as gastrointestinal issues. Vomiting is common; sometimes, blood, depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, and dilated pupils are all signs of corn poisoning in cats. Additionally, cats may experience abdominal pain, increased heart rate, “drunken” gait, wobbly walking, and physical weakness.

If your cat shows corn poisoning, get them veterinary attention immediately.

What Is the Treatment for Corn Plant Poisoning?

The most common treatment for corn plant poisoning is removing the remaining pieces of corn plant in the digestive system, observation and supportive care like fluids. Many cats will need supportive care only, others will need veterinary intervention.

Dracaena fragrans Limelight
Dracaena fragrans Limelight (Image Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)

What Causes Cats to Eat Toxic Plants?

Cats that are eating plants may be doing it for mental stimulation, because they are hungry, or just because they are cats! Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning their bodies are designed biologically to eat animal proteins and, thus, are naturally attuned to finding sources of animal proteins. Corn plant is not an animal protein. So, cats aren’t inclined to eat it unless they’re hungry, curious or bored. So, if your corn plant has poisoned your cat, consider what circumstances led to your cat eating the plant to begin with.

Addressing concerns like boredom or inadequate feeding routines can keep your cat away from your plants, toxic and non-toxic. After all, your cat turning your plants into a snack will inevitably turn out badly for both the cat and the plant. If your cat is persistent the plants will need to be kept in a separate room from your cat.

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Final Thoughts

While it can be scary if your cat ingests something toxic to them, you can take comfort in the fact that the vast majority of cases of corn plant poisoning in cats clear up without any complications. As long as a veterinarian oversees your cat’s case, your cat should recover without any lasting damage.

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Featured Image Credit: Jus_Ol, Shutterstock