Is the Madagascar Dragon Tree Toxic to Cats

The Madagascar Dragon Tree has many advantages. These trees are natural air purifiers and can filter out impurities and toxins from the surroundings. Having these trees indoors can significantly improve the air quality of your interior.

But is the Madagascar dragon tree toxic to cats? The American Society created to prevent animal cruelty (ASPCA) states that this tree is toxic and harmful to cats. If cats ingest the leaves of the Madagascar dragon tree, they can get severe stomach issues. If you share your home with pets, it’s best to avoid growing this tree.

The reason why the Madagascar dragon tree is toxic to cats is that it contains Saponins. Cats lack the enzymes necessary to digest this plant material. Therefore, it becomes toxic for them.

Typical symptoms of ingesting parts of this tree include dilated pupils, a faster heart rate, weakness, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

Details About the Madagascar Dragon Tree

Scientifically, this tree is known as the Dracaena Marginata. It also goes by other names, such as the Red-Marginated Dracaena or the Dragon Tree.

It used to be a part of the Dracaenaceae family but then was placed into the Agavaceae family.

This tree is mainly found in South Asia, Australia, and Africa. Two species are also located in Central America. About one hundred and twenty species of these trees and shrubs are within the plant genus.

The Madagascar Dragon Tree is one of the most popular varieties. These plants are tropical and evergreen. They can grow as high as twenty feet.

The ‘Colorama’ and the ‘tricolor’ varieties are popular. The Dragon tree is a much-loved house plant, but all its species are toxic to felines.

The Colorama Variety

If seen from a distance, the Colorama Variety of the Dracaena Marginata looks as if it has pink-colored foliage. If you inspect this plant closely, you will notice its leaves have green and white stripes.

When growing the Colorama variety, make sure the lighting is right. This is vital, or the plant leaves are likely to fade.

The ‘Tricolor’ Variety

The Tricolor variety of Dracaena Marginata is a very aesthetic plant. It has green-colored leaves with a thin red-colored border. A cream or white strip goes through each leaf.

The Madagascar Dragon Tree and Cats

The Madagascar Dragon tree is a pretty indoor plant. It also has several nicknames, such as the ribbon or cornstalk plants. This plant is toxic to cats as it contains Saponins that cats cannot digest.

If this toxicity is untreated, symptoms can become severe and dangerous for the feline. You must visit the veterinary doctor immediately if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of the plant.

Several visible short-term poisoning symptoms include hypersalivation, vomiting that might contain blood, and dilated pupils.

Long-term symptoms can include anorexia and weight loss, as well as depression.

This may sound odd, but cats can suffer from depression just like humans. Depression symptoms include hiding for long periods, weight loss, loss of appetite, and lethargy. It’s imperative to see the vet as soon as possible if your cat has ingested this plant.

Your feline can go through severe health issues that may result in death if not adequately treated.

The impact of these symptoms can also cause anxiety in cats, as cats are sensitive creatures; if you feel your cat’s behavior has changed recently and is becoming anxious, make sure to visit the vet.

Treatment of Poisoning Caused by the Madagascar Dragon Tree

Your vet will provide symptomatic treatment for the cat. The cat will likely vomit the plant matter it ingested on its own. The cat must be kept under observation until all visible symptoms have subsided.

If your cat does not vomit out the plant matter, the vet will induce vomiting by giving hydrogen peroxide orally. The vomiting should eliminate all the present plant matter from the cat’s stomach.

If the vomiting and diarrhea are severe, your cat will also suffer from dehydration. This is when electrolytes and fluids will have to be given to the cat. This process will occur at the veterinary hospital, and your cat will be kept under observation.

Once your cat returns home, ensure you prevent further ingestion of the plant.

Recovery Period

Cats mostly recover within 24 hours of ingesting the Madagascar Dragon Tree plant. Once the cat vomits out, all plant material symptoms will start disappearing. There should not be any more lingering injuries. There have been no documented cat deaths due to ingesting parts of this plant.

Prevention from Consuming the Plant

As a cat owner, it’s your responsibility to keep this plant beyond the reach of your cat. As the Madagascar dragon tree is toxic to cats, try not to keep this plant at home if you own a cat. Instead, you can place a plant with similar beneficial characteristics that are not toxic to cats.

If you keep this specific plant at home, keep it somewhere your cat can’t reach. You can also keep it in a room your cat does not go into. To prevent accidents, it would be best to familiarize yourself with all plants that might be toxic to cats.

However, if you have the Madagascar dragon tree at home and your cat has not shown any interest in it, you need not worry. There have been cases when cats have lived around toxic plants but never showed any interest in chewing on them.

How to Act if Your Pet Digest this Plant

The Madagascar dragon tree is toxic to cats; if your cat digests it, rush to the vet. The vet will keep your pet under observation to detect symptoms. Even though your cat will likely recover within 24 hours, it will have to vomit out the plant.

If the cat vomits on its own, that’s a good sign. If not, the vet will have to induce vomiting. If the vomiting and diarrhea become severe, the cat will need electrolytes through an IV drip. This will replenish the dehydration. 

Younger cats are more likely to bounce back quicker from this poisoning. However, elderly cats might take some more time to recover. Kittens and cats already suffering from cat problems will also require time to recover completely.

Keeping pet-friendly plants in your home is always a great idea if you own pets. Many pet-friendly plants have similar qualities to the Madagascar Dragon Tree. These plants are not only pretty but also air purifiers.

Some options include the African violets, the Prayer plants, the Haworthia, the Boston Fern, and Echeveria. Most species of Orchids are also a great choice to keep at home.

Toxic Substances in the Madagascar Dragon Tree

The primary toxic substance in the Madagascar dragon tree is Saponin. Cats don’t have the required enzymes to digest Saponins. It can cause diarrhea and vomiting, amongst many other symptoms, if ingested. In severe cases, Saponins can also affect the cat’s kidneys and liver.

Some plants contain Saponins in their leaves and stem to remain protected from infections and diseases. Plants that contain Saponin become more pest resistant and are less likely to get insect infestations.

Unfortunately, the presence of Saponin also makes the plant toxic to animals such as cats and dogs.

Even though toxic to animals, Saponin is not harmful to humans. This compound is present in spinach and is known to aid digestion. Saponin is also derived from Yucca plants to form a supplement that eases joint pain. This supplement is known to relieve pain and has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Dragon Tree - Live Plant in a 6 Inch Pot - Dracaena Marginata Colorama - Easy Care Indoor Air Cleaning Plant

Concluding Thoughts

The Madagascar dragon tree, or the Dracaena Marginata, is a pretty and popular indoor plant. But it’s not the best idea to have this plant at home if you have pets such as cats and dogs.

The Madagascar dragon tree is toxic to cats, and if your cat ingests even a little bit, it can get very sick. Cats don’t have the digestive enzyme required to ingest this plant. Ingesting the plant leaves or stem cause severe indigestion or poisoning in the cat. Your cat will likely undergo vomiting, diarrhea, and several other symptoms.

The cat will have to be rushed to the hospital immediately. The vet will keep the cat under observation in case it starts showing severe symptoms. The cat might also need an IV drip to treat dehydration if the vomiting and diarrhea worsen.

Your cat will likely recover within 24 hours once the toxic plant matter is eliminated from the cat’s body.

To avoid this ordeal and extreme inconvenience for the cat, it’s best not to keep this plant at home.

If you must keep the Madagascar dragon tree at home, keep it away from your cat’s reach.

Also, as a responsible cat owner, you should know which plants are toxic to cats and can harm them. This will help prevent your cat from coming in contact with them.

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