The Dracaena Marginata plant is also called the Dragon Tree. This popular houseplant is extremely toxic to pets, especially cats. It is common for cat owners to call upon veterinarians because their cat chewed upon the Dracaena Marginata.
About the Dracaena Marginata
A common sub-specie of the Dracaena is the straight-margined Dracaena. This is also called the Red Edge Dracaena or the Madagascar Dragon Tree. The scientific name of this plant is Dracaena Marginata.
A Native to East Africa, the Dracaena Marginata can easily be planted outdoors. This shrub can grow as high as fifteen feet. This plant can often be found in gardens within the United States. However, keeping the Dracaena Marginata indoors is also a popular option. This is because it gives the home a tropical look and is easy to care for.
These plants’ leaves grow out from a wooden stem. These leaves are slender and look like palm fronds. The Dracaena Marginata’s leaves have a purple-ish red border and turn yellow with age. After they turn yellow, they usually fall off. As leaves fall, new foliage is quick to emerge.
Dracaena Marginata and Cats
At times cats don’t always know which plant is okay to chew on and which isn’t. As the Dracaena Marginata plant is toxic to cats, ingesting any part of the plant can be dangerous. This includes the plant’s roots, leaves, stems, and bark.
However, it’s important to remember if my cat ate Dracaena Marginata, recovery is possible. Dracaena marginata is not an extremely toxic plant, so if your cat chews on it, it will only get mildly poisoned.
Keeping this houseplant indoors is popular in the United States. This is especially so in states like Missouri and Florida. The Dracaena Marginata is also a low-maintenance plant and can tolerate different indoor temperatures. Hence it’s such a popular option to keep inside the house.
Why is Dracaena Marginata Plant Toxic to Cats
Dracaena marginata is toxic to cats because due to the chemical Saponin found within the plant. If my cat ate Dracaena Marginata, it would result in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness, and dilated pupils. You will have to rush to the veterinary doctor immediately.
As the leaves of the Dracaena Marginata resemble grass, cats, and dogs love to chew on them. However, the leaves are bitter, which can act as a deterrent. Poisoning caused by chewing on this plant has to be treated immediately. If left untreated, it can lead to severe dehydration.
If tended to immediately, the veterinarian can easily treat poisoning caused by this plant. The chances of a swift recovery are high.
If you have kept the Dracaena Marginata at home, keep it at a location your cat can’t reach. This can include either a shelf located high up or a hanging basket. It’s best if the plant is in a room the cat doesn’t regularly go into.
Any fallen leaves from the plant should also be picked up immediately. If you live in a warm climate and the Dracaena Marginata is grown nearby, it’s best to keep your cat indoors. This is, so the cat doesn’t accidentally ingest the plant from gardens nearby.
The Toxic Chemical Saponin
The chemical responsible for causing cats so much trouble is Saponin. Saponin comes from the Latin word ‘Sapon,’ which translates to soap. The degree of toxicity within this chemical component can vary.
Types of Saponin found within different species of the Dracaena are also used to make medicine in West Africa.
Different Types of Dracaena’s and Their Level of Toxicity
Within the Dracaena family, there are wide different varieties. All these varieties of toxic and harmful to cats. Other names know the different varieties of the Dracaena plant.
One variety is the Corn plant, also known as the Cornstalk plant. These plants have green leaves with yellow streaks through the center.
Another variety is the ‘Song of Jamaica’ or the ‘Song of India’ plant, which has wider green leaves. It also has golden or cream edges. The Janet Craig variation of the Dracaena also has yellow streaks but white margins.
The ‘Lucky Bamboo’ is also a popular variety of the Dracaena plant and has stalks that resemble bamboo.
Americans keep different varieties of the Dracaena as they are pretty and easy to take care of. These varieties can adapt to different types of lighting. Hence they can also be suitable to keep outdoors.
Keeping this plant sounds great, except the Dracaena Marginata plant toxic to cats. Therefore think twice before keeping this plant if you are a cat owner.
The primary poisonous quality of Dracaena Marginata is its ability to produce Saponins. Several plants are known to produce this poisonous substance. They do so to protect themselves from insects and fungi. Saponins are found in all parts of the Dracaena Marginata, from its leaves, stem, bark, and roots.
What To Do if My Cat Ate Dracaena Marginata?
Usually, cat owners don’t notice their cat has chewed on the Dracaena until they notice symptoms. That’s why it’s best to eliminate the plant from the cat’s reach altogether.
If you notice symptoms like drooling, vomiting, lack of coordination, dilated pupils, and diarrhea in your cat, contact your vet immediately. Your vet can control this reaction until your cat gets better.
If the vet doesn’t tend to the cat immediately, it can cause severe dehydration that can be difficult to rectify.
How to Treat Dracaena Poisoning In Your Cat?
The treatment your cat will receive will be symptomatic. The illness will pass on its own until the cat expels the poisonous substance from its body.
The vet can also induce vomiting if your cat struggles to eliminate the poisonous dracaena plant leaves. One method is to administer hydrogen peroxide until the stomach content relieves itself.
After vomiting, your cat can also quickly get dehydrated. If it gets severely dehydrated, electrolytes and fluids will have to be given to the cat. This may also require hospitalization.
Period of Recovery
If your cat ingests Dracaena Marginata, it will likely recover within 24 hours. Symptoms shall cease once the toxic plant materials leave the cat’s body. There have been no cases of cats dying by ingesting the Dracaena Marginata.
There is still a debate about whether Dracaena Marginata is poisonous to cats or just indigestible.
Plants Safe For Cats
Many other types of non-toxic houseplants are safe for cats. These include the Christmas Cactus, Boston Fern, and the Bamboo Palm. You can also purchase sprouted cat grass from your nearby store and keep it in the house. Keeping these cat-safe plants in the house is a great idea for your kitty to nibble on and explore.
At the same time, if you don’t want your cat accessing the houseplants, you can place the plants out of her reach. You can grow plants downwards on hanging baskets to keep them away from the cat. Also, keep other posted plants in distant places of the house where the cat doesn’t go.
Sometimes cats are also drawn to potting soil. They love through the soil. Try placing heavy stones on the soil so the cat can’t access it. However, ensure the stones are big so your cat doesn’t swallow any.
Keeping houseplants is a great idea. They add greenery to your indoor space and give a pleasant touch to the atmosphere. However, it’s important to know what kind of plants you keep indoors and their qualities.
It is true the Dracaena Marginata plant is toxic to cats. Therefore cat owners should be careful when placing this plant at home. They should take strong measures to ensure the cat doesn’t grow up chewing on the plant’s leaves.
Ingesting the Dracaena Marginata’s leaves can be highly toxic for cats. It can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, drooling, and weakness. It takes about 24 hours for the symptoms to dissipate and for the cat to recover.
Suppose symptoms are observed, it’s best to take your cat to the vet straight away. If not tended to immediately, this can also lead to severe dehydration, which can be deadly. Also, avoid home remedies upon detecting symptoms.
If my cat ate Dracaena Marginata, it is easily possible to recover. However, a veterinary doctor’s intervention is necessary for recovery.
To keep your cat safe, you don’t need to remove this plant from your house. Simply keep it at a location your cat isn’t able to reach. This can include keeping the pot on a high shelf. Growing the plant in a hanging basket is also a good idea.
It usually takes cats 24 hours to recover fully. Once the toxic substance is eliminated from the cat’s body, it can return to normal. Once recovered, remember to nurture your cat and cuddle it. It deserves appreciation after suffering from such an ordeal!
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.