Houseplants add a splash of color to our homes and improve indoor air quality. However, you want to be picky about the plants you grow at home if you have pets because some plants can be toxic to domestic animals. If you wonder whether the polka dot plant is toxic to cats, you’ve come to the right place.
The polka dot plant is not toxic to cats and other household pets, such as dogs and livestock. However, while the plant is non-toxic to cats, it is not pet-friendly. Domestic animals may experience unpleasant symptoms, including diarrhea and mild vomiting, if they eat the plant.
While the above is true, there is still more to the polka dot plant-cat relationship. If you have or plan to grow a polka dot plant, you’ll want to read this article to the end to discover the best way to protect your pet from potential hazards.
The colorful and speckled leaves of the polka dot plant make it a popular indoor plant. However, cats are curious and will eventually want to explore the cheerful little plant.
Like any caring cat owner, it is normal to wonder if the polka dot plant is poisonous to your feline friend.
The polka dot plant is not poisonous to cats, but it can cause discomfort if pets consume the plant in large amounts. Although domestic cats are primarily carnivores, they eat grass or houseplants for various reasons. Keep the polka dot plant out of reach of cats to prevent potential health issues.
Hypoestes phyllostachya is the scientific name for the polka dot plant, and it comes in different cultivars or varieties, including the following:
- Pink Splash. The pink splash is the original hypoestes phyllostachya. It has small dark green leaves with pink spots.
- Red Splash. The pointy leaves on this polka dot plant variety are mainly red with dark green spots.
- White Splash. This variety has pointy white leaves with green spots.
- Camina. As the name suggests, this variety has carmine red spots on its pointed dark green leaves.
- Confetti Blush. This polka dot plant type features white veins on its pointed olive-green leaves, giving them an elaborate pattern.
Since this plant doesn’t overwinter well and can only stay outdoors over winter in USDA zones 10 and 11, most people in the other agricultural zones bring their polka dot plants in during the cold months or grow them as houseplants.
According to the ASPCA, none of these varieties are poisonous to cats, dogs, and other common household pets. So, you can choose whichever type you prefer and what blends well with your home without worrying about any severe health hazards.
The polka dot plant may not be toxic or poisonous to cats, but is it okay to allow your cat to nibble on the plant? Is the plant 100% harmless to cats and other household pets?
Your cat should not eat a polka dot plant because the plant may be harmful to pets. While hypoestes phyllostachya is non-toxic to cats, ingesting it might negatively affect cats, dogs, and other animals.
Before I go any further, perhaps it will be helpful to briefly explain the difference between “toxic” and “harmful.”
Substances or chemicals that can cause health issues in tiny amounts are highly toxic. In contrast, those that can only cause damage in vast amounts are considered harmful but practically non-toxic.
In other words, nibbling on a polka dot plant is unlikely to send your cat to the feline ER, but you don’t want to include the plant as part of your pet’s lunch.
Of course, your feline friend won’t die if it eats the polka dot plant, at least not instantly. However, it can cause some not-so-pleasant side effects for your cat if it eats the plant – namely, diarrhea and vomiting.
These potential health issues of eating polka dot plants are usually mild and shouldn’t result in an emergency vet visit. However, it is best not to expose your feline friend to discomfort, right?
Think of it this way: while mild vomiting or diarrhea won’t kill your cat, it is not okay for your pet to experience these issues frequently.
If your cat already has any common cat disease, it is crucial to protect it from eating any harmful plants. If your cat is ill, don’t hesitate to visit an AAHA-accredited veterinary practice. You can find several animal clinics in any given city in every state in the USA – there’s no excuse not to.
Hypoestes phyllostachya isn’t only attractive to humans, but it is also eye-catching to cats. As you probably already know, cats like to put things they find fascinating in their mouths. For this reason, you want to keep an eye on your feline friend to make sure it doesn’t eat a polka dot plant and risk diarrhea and vomiting.
It is normal for cats to eat houseplants and grass, even though they are carnivores. Although cats mostly put plants in their mouths out of curiosity, they can also eat plants to find relief for minor health issues.
There’s a reason a cat features in the proverb, “curiosity killed the cat.” It is debatable whether that saying is correct, but cats are inquisitive because curiosity is part of their DNA. Your feline friend instinctively wants to know what is happening around it to prevent surprises.
So, it is not out of place to see your cat checking out new items in its environment. If you bring a fascinating plant like the polka dot plant into your home, your cat will most likely want to understand what it is.
One way to do this is to nibble, chew, lick, or eat the plant. However, curiosity is not the only reason your cat would want to eat your houseplant.
Besides nosiness, if your cat eats grass or plants, it could be due to one or more of the following reasons:
- Indigestion. An upset stomach can make cats nibble on various parts of plants (such as stems and leaves) to self-medicate. If the issue is intestinal parasites or worms, your cat may likely munch on the grass to help expel the unwanted organisms.
- Boredom. Cats are brilliant, and this can easily cause boredom if there is no proper stimulation. Your cat may chew on your houseplant out of boredom. For this reason, it is essential to provide feline-friendly boredom busters to prevent unhealthy reactions to tedium.
- Cats enjoy the taste and texture of grass. While some people believe that cats eat houseplants and grass when they need to vomit, a more feasible explanation is that cats like the feel and taste of immature vegetation. The grass is also rich in vitamin B, so your cat may nibble on grass if it lacks folic acid (vitamin B).
- They are filling a nutritional gap. Domestic cats rarely get all the nutrients they require from regular cat foods. If this is the case, your cat may occasionally munch on grass and houseplants to supplement its diet.
Regardless of why your cat eats your houseplant, it is essential to ensure it doesn’t have access to toxic plants. By keeping potentially unsafe plants away from the reach of house cats and other pets, you reduce the risk of poisoning and severe health issues.
Eating a small piece of polka dot plant shouldn’t cause any significant problem for your feline companion.
However, it is crucial to act fast if you suspect something is off with your cat, probably because of excessive consumption of the polka dot plant.
Typically, throwing up and frequent liquid bowel movements are indications that your pet may be experiencing the adverse effects of eating a polka dot plant.
Monitor your cat closely if you notice these symptoms. Usually, your cat should get better within a day, although it may not be as playful and energetic until it fully recovers.
However, if you notice the following signs, consider visiting the vet as quickly as possible:
- Blood in the feces or vomit.
- Worms in the feces or vomit.
- Refusal to eat anything throughout the day.
- Multiple occurrences of watery stool throughout the day
- Throwing up several times within 12 hours.
- Inability to stand or walk.
- Sluggishness or significant loss of energy.
While it is okay to observe your cat’s reaction if you think it is ill, you don’t have to “wait and see.”
It is usually best to get expert advice from a vet, regardless of the symptoms. Even if the effects aren’t severe, a vet can help your feline friend feel better, and you will have peace of mind.
Thankfully, there is no shortage of veterinarians in the United States, even if you live in a small town.
While polka dot plants aren’t toxic to cats and other house pets, they can cause discomfort if your feline companion eats them.
For this reason, it is best to prevent easy access to polka dot plants if you have a cat. Although munching on the plant isn’t likely to cause any severe illness. Still, diarrhea and vomiting aren’t pleasant experiences for cats or any other pet.
It is generally safe to grow polka dot plants in your garden or house if you have cats. Just remember to follow the suggestions in this article.
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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.