Golden Pothos is one of the most common houseplants. They are exceedingly easy to take care of and easy to find. Their large leaves make them very aesthetically pleasing. They’re also relatively slow-growing, so they don’t need to be repotted often.
However, these plants are extremely toxic to cats. The leaves and stems contain a chemical called calcium oxalate crystals. These little crystals can penetrate the soft tissues of your cat’s mouth, throat, and stomach. This can cause damage to your cat’s digestive system—sometimes severely.
Is Pothos Toxic or Poisonous?
Pothos isn’t technically poisonous. It doesn’t contain any poison and won’t affect your cat’s kidneys. However, the plant contains a particular type of mineral called calcium oxalate crystals. These minerals are not digested easily like most other minerals. Instead, they pierce your feline’s soft tissues, including those in the mouth, throat, and stomach.
This can cause sensitivity in the mouth at the very least. However, it can also cause breathing trouble and digestive issues. It isn’t that they’re poisonous, but that the minerals can cause damage to the cat’s soft tissues.
Sometimes, we may see our feline eat the plant. Other times, we will likely not. In these cases, we may only have symptoms to tell us that something is wrong.
Any irritation in the mouth is an obvious sign that your feline may have eaten a pothos leaf or stem. Pawing at the mouth is a common sign of pain, as your feline may try to remove the minerals from their mouth, though they cannot in any meaningful way. However, there are other signs as well, such as not eating or drinking. If you notice your cat has any mouth pain, it may be a symptom.
Extreme drooling can also be a symptom, as your cat’s mouth may also try to remove the minerals. Drooling may remove some of them, though it won’t remove enough to make a noticeable difference.
Your cat’s appetite will also be affected. This is because their mouth is irritated and may also be because their digestive tract is damaged, making it painful or nearly impossible for them to eat. Vomiting can occur as well because of this. Their digestive tract may reject the food.
Discomfort when swallowing is also expected since the minerals will damage their throat.
If you notice that your feline has any of these symptoms, you should take your cat to the vet right away. It should be considered an emergency, which means visiting an emergency clinic may be necessary. You should also collect a sample of the plant to show the vet, as they will want to confirm that it is a pothos before they begin treatment. If you can grab the actual part that the cat chewed, that is even better.
Be sure to take note of your cat’s symptoms and let your vet know. There is no test for pothos poisoning, so the information you provide is essential for your vet to treat your feline. The information you provide will play a significant role in your cat’s treatment plan.
An examination will usually begin with your cat’s mouth, which can help determine the level of irritation. This can also help rule out any other apparent cause for the irritation and pain. Sometimes, the presence of calcium oxalate crystals can be detected.
Treatment should begin as soon as possible. First, you will need to make your cat more comfortable by alleviating the pain in their mouth, throat, and stomach. Often, your vet will do this by flushing your cat’s mouth and stomach. A gastric lavage will also be necessary. This is a stomach wash, which will remove as many of the crystals as possible.
The vet may feed your cat dairy products, as there is anecdotal evidence that dairy products can help your cat’s pain. Benadryl may also be given to prevent swelling, which can affect your cat’s breathing. Without the proper medication, the symptoms may worsen, and more complications may occur. Benadryl is usually administered early on in the treatment phase for this reason.
Vomiting may need to be treated as well. Several medications can prevent vomiting, from Kapectolin to sucralfate. Vomiting can lead to dehydration if it goes on for too long, so your cat may need IV fluids as well.
Many cats will recover quickly after they are treated. Once the crystals are flushed, they will no longer damage, and your cat can begin to heal. If your cat was dehydrated or has a swollen airway, he may need to stay overnight to regain his strength.
Your cat may need to eat softer food for a time since they will likely have some irritation for a while. Wet food may be necessary, especially if your feline is dehydrated. Wet foods contain many fluids, which can help your feline get back to their original healthy state.
You should also prevent your cat’s exposure to the plant in the future. Remove it from your yard and garden. You should also check your home’s other plants to ensure that none of them are poisonous as well.
Of course, this won’t prevent your cat from eating poisonous plants for other areas if they are allowed to wander. For this reason, it may be best to keep your cat confined until they are completely recovered.
Pothos plants aren’t poisonous, but they contain a mineral that can cause damage soft tissues, like those found in your feline’s mouth, throat, and stomach. For this reason, it is essential to visit your vet immediately if you suspect your cat has eaten some of this plant. Their mouth, throat, and stomach will need to be flushed to remove the crystals from their system.
Featured image credit: sweetlouise, Pixabay