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Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Cats? Causes, Symptoms & More

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The Zamioculcas, aka ZZ Plant, is an absolute beauty for any indoor area. Like the Monstera Deliciosa, you can spot its gorgeous dark green leaves in Instagram posts showcasing beautiful collections of these houseplants.

Native to eastern Africa, the ZZ plant is one of those indoor house plants that can survive just about anywhere, including low-light conditions and harsh environments. I can it is my unkillable plant, that how tough a ZZ plant is.

The unique dark, leafy green patterning and appearance of the ZZ plant make it an eye-catching addition to any room. Not only does the stunning plant provide pleasing aesthetics, but it’s also incredibly easy to care for. And because of its air-purifying qualities, it adds extra freshness to your home.

With any houseplant, if you have any pets, it’s essential to know whether they are safe for our fluffies. And if you have any poisonous plants, it’s good to know how to handle the situation if a poisoning occurs.

With that being said, let’s address a couple of burning questions related to these beautiful ZZ plants.

ZZ Plant & Cats at Home: Is the ZZ Plant Toxic To Cats?

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Are ZZ plants poisonous to cats? To answer briefly, unfortunately, yes, the ZZ plant is poisonous to cats and is on the toxic houseplants list. The ZZ plants toxicity stems from the plant containing calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals’ sharp points are what causes the burning sensation when the sap is ingested or exposed to bare skin.

ZZ plants, or the Zamioculcas, are popular indoor plants because of their low-maintenance and beautiful appearance. These lovely plants are tough and thrive on neglect. Whether you forget to water them frequently or place them in low-light conditions, they can flourish without a doubt. However, these indoor plants can pose a threat to your curious kitties.

Ingesting the leaves will not cause death; but, your poor pet may suffer a range of digestive issues and ailments. So, it’s best to keep clued up on how to keep your cat safe from your ZZ plant – and visa versa.

Before we dive into explaining the ZZ plant toxicity and how to keep yourself and your feline safe, here are some other names you might come across for this plant:

●      Zamioculcas

●      Zanzibar Gem

●      Zuzu Plant

●      Arnold Palm Tree

●      Eternity Plant

●      Emerald Palm

How is the ZZ Plant Poisonous?

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The ZZ plant is mildly poisonous. Coming into direct contact with the emerald palm or rubbing your eyes after touching the plant may cause some skin irritation. However, consuming the plant’s sap or leaves can be more harmful than merely touching it. It can cause stomach upset and lead to diarrhoea and vomiting.

This is because ZZ plants contain calcium oxalate, the same substance that kidney stones are made up of – ouch!

The calcium oxalate consists of sharp crystal-like edges in its roots, seeds, stems, leaves, etc. that causes skin irritation and a burning sensation when touched or ingested. Like other Araceae family members, the sticky sap of the ZZ plant contains these calcium oxalate crystals.

The plant naturally produces these crystals as a form of protection against predators and regulates calcium in the plant tissue.

So, if your cat starts to chew, bite, and swallow the plant, they are in for a tough time.

Causes of ZZ Plant Poisoning in Cats

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The ZZ plant can cause a horrible reaction to cats, dogs, and even humans because it contains calcium oxalate, much like the Fiddle Leaf Fig and the Monstera plant. These crystals are extremely small. The crystals’ sharp points are what causes the burning sensation when the sap is ingested or exposed to bare skin.

The skin and mucous membranes of our pets – and ourselves – are sensitive to calcium oxalate and that’s what causes these irritations. If our playful kitties mistake the ZZ plant for their favourite wand toy, they may develop inflammation of the mucus membranes, skin, and eyes. 

How to Diagnosis ZZ Plant Poisoning in Cats

A ZZ plant will poison your cat if they chew or nibble the plant. The easiest way to diagnose whether this may have occurred is to check the plant.

If your plant has bite marks on it and your kitty shows some symptoms, they likely have ZZ plant poisoning.

Symptoms of ZZ Plant Poisoning in Humans and Pets

The sharp crystals found in the ZZ plant’s sap can irritate the skin, and if ingested, it can show various symptoms almost immediately. It’s essential to be aware of the different signs associated with the plant’s toxicity if you, a loved one, or your furry pal starts to show any hints of poisoning.

Some typical symptoms that may arise if your pet has eaten a part of the ZZ plant is:

●      Severe oral irritation and burning

●      Excessive salivation (drooling)

●      Reduced appetite

●      Mouth pawing

●      Mouth foaming

●      Difficulty in swallowing

●      Vomiting

●      Diarrhoea

For us, humans if the sap of the Zamioculcas comes into contact with your skin, it could lead to dermatitis. Because of the painful sensations of the plant, many cats will spit the plant out. However, if ingested, the following symptoms may arise:

●      Stomach cramps

●      Nausea

●      Diarrhoea

●      Vomiting

What Happens if Your Cat Eats it?

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If your kitty eats part of a ZZ plant, don’t panic, the reactions are seldom life-threatening, but they will likely experience some discomfort. As previously mentioned, you can expect your pet to have digestive issues, like a stomach-ache and sometimes a bad case of diarrhoea.

If your cat starts to vomit, you should ensure they are well hydrated and keep a close eye on them. It would help if you tried to encourage your pet to eat. This could help the body pass any plant toxins that may have been ingested.

Like humans, if your pet comes into contact with the plant sap on their bare skin, eyes, or mucus membranes, they may feel tenderness and some pain.

What Happens if I Touch it?

While it’s true that calcium oxalate is produced throughout the plant, many people care for their ZZs without experiencing any adverse effects. The ZZ plant’s stems and leaves are made of a waxy cuticle that protects the plant from any outside elements. Because of this waxy substance, touching the plant is a low risk due to the cuticle that creates a kind of barrier. Therefore, it’s unlikely that irritants will be transmitted.

It’s more likely that the plant’s sap will cause soreness, and possibly a minor rash, when in contact with your bare skin. You should take extra precautions when repotting or segregating your plant. Be wary of any sap coming into contact with your skin if you accidentally break a stem or a leaf.

Treating ZZ Plant Exposure

Exposure to the ZZ plant will unlikely result in any severe conditions but may cause extreme discomfort.

Treating Pets:

If you suspect your cuddly cat has taken a nibble on your ZZ plant, you’ll have to act quickly. As a first aid response, you should:

●      Check their mouth for any traces of the plant and remove any leftover pieces.

●      Try and help them drink fluids; some cold milk could do wonders.

●      You should keep an eye on your pet in case they develop any major symptoms like vomiting or diarrhoea.

After a couple of hours, your pet should be fine; however, you should monitor them, especially if you’re unsure of the amount they managed to ingest.

Treating Humans:

The ZZ plant is poisonous to humans, so, if you see a child (or curious someone) take a chunk of a ZZ plant, you should:

●      Get them to spit out any plant matter left in their mouth.

●      Use a soft cloth to wipe out their mouth.

●  Get them to eat or drink something cold, like milk or ice cream.

Protecting Your Pets and Yourself


If you find you have any sensitivity to the ZZ plant but love it too much to have to replace it, you can try to limit your exposure to its irritant. Wear gloves when you’re handling the plant.

You should wash your clothing or any clothes that may have gotten sap on them. Also, ensure you’ve washed your hands with soap and water after handling your plant.

Cats may be more difficult to deal with –  when it comes to keeping them safe from poisonous plants – as opposed to kids. You could try to move your plant out of reach from any tiny hands and paws. Hanging pots or tall shelves are perfect if you want to keep your ZZ plant safe for cats.

If your cat enjoys acrobatics, try to add some strong-smelling substances to your plant’s pot, cats usually stay away from pungent smells such as coffee grounds or citrus fragrances.

A Footnote: Is the ZZ Plant Toxic to Cats?

From stunning leaf patterns, low maintenance standards, and the ability to purify the air, the ZZ plant is a clear winner when it comes to adding that final touch to your home. 

These plants tick all the boxes when it comes to house plants, except for one thing…the Zamioculcas is poisonous to cats, dogs, and even humans. The entire plant can cause some form of ailment, such as vomiting and digestive problems.

Even though it’s one of the many indoor plants poisonous to cats, responsible owners like myself can have their favourite plants and still keep their pets safe.

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