So, you’re a new cat owner who also holds an avid interest in plants. And your collection of plants includes the common and beautiful Dracaena marginata, also known as the “Dragon Tree”. As a result, you want to know if the Dragon Tree is one of the feline-friendly houseplants you can own.
Is Dracaena marginata poisonous to cats? In short, the Dracaena marginata is toxic to cats. According to the ASPCA, the Dragon Tree has poisonous properties (saponin, a chemical compound) that affect cats.
Therefore, it shouldn’t be anywhere near your cat as it can lead to pretty sketchy scenarios. Or, do you already have a feline and a Dragon Tree living under one roof and didn’t know about the toxic relationship?
If that’s the case, then this post is for you. It will teach you about the symptoms, causes and treatments related to the plant should your furry friend nibble at it.
Dracaena Plant’s Poisonous Properties
Before examining the plant’s toxicity, it’s important to understand that the Dracaena family of plants are all poisonous for pets. You don’t want to make the mistake of buying one of them thinking you’ve found a non-toxic plant.
Dracaena Family of Plants
The different variants of Dracaena plants go by various names. Here’s a list of the most common ones and how to identify them.
A fairly common Dracaena variant is the corn plant or cornstalk plant. It is green with a yellow streak running through the centre of the leaves.
Another variant, the “Song of Jamaica” or “Song of India”, resembles the dragon tree but has wider green leaves. They usually have cream or yellow coloured margins.
The “Janet Craig” variant has small yellow stripes on the margins. The “striped dracaena” looks like the Janet Craig, but the lines on the margins are white instead of yellow. Lastly, the “lucky bamboo” is a famous dracaena plant that has stems that look like bamboo.
What Makes the Dracaena Marginata Toxic?
Most plant lovers opt for these plants because they’re easy to care for (this was one of the big draws for me), in addition to being easy on the eyes. They grow in different types of lighting, making them suitable for both indoor and outdoor keeping.
While all that sounds great, cat owners shouldn’t forget that the Dracaena marginata is poisonous for your kitty. The toxic property is saponins. It is part of a larger group of toxic compounds used by plants to protect themselves from fungi and insects.
The compound is present in all parts of the plant. This includes the leaves, bark, stems and roots.
Dracaena Plant and Cats
Cats are naturally inquisitive and do whatever they want as they cycle through their nine lives. Being enchanted by your houseplants is no exception, especially when they’re home and bored by your absence. Their curiosity might well lead them to bite one of your houseplants, including the toxic Dragon Tree.
However, while the Dracaena is poisonous to cats, they likely won’t consume too much as it’s quite bitter. Furthermore, the plant is only mildly to moderately toxic, so ingestion won’t be deadly. According to the ASPCA, no death from Dracaena plant consumption has been reported to date. Still, it’s better they don’t eat it at all.
Since cats can’t talk to us, it’s not easy to tell if it has eaten the Dragon Tree. Yes, you can see when the leaves have been chewed, but it’s harder to tell from the other parts of the plant. Luckily, there are signs that can notify you of plant poisoning in your cat.
Symptoms of Dracaena Poisoning
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, these are the following symptoms of Dracaena poisoning in pets:
- Vomiting, sometimes with blood
- Abdominal pain
- Weakness or exhaustion
- Dilated pupils in cats
Some other noted symptoms include an irregularly fast heartbeat. Long term effects like anorexia, depression have also been reported when huge chunks of Dracaena have been consumed. Don’t worry; a visit to the vet will help rid your kitty of these symptoms as soon as possible.
Diagnosis of Poisoning
While ingestion isn’t fatal, you want to get your furry friend help as soon as possible. If you see your feline eat the plant or see these symptoms, it’s best to go see a vet. They will inspect your cat and assess what it’s suffering from.
If you didn’t see your cat eat the plant, bring a list of all your houseplants to the vet visit. This will help the vet eliminate all possibilities instead of using just your intuition. A visit to the vet may also uncover some other conditions that might’ve been veiled as poisoning.
Treatment of Dracaena Poisoning
If the cat is only mildly sick, all plant materials should flush out on their own. The symptoms will likely subside in 12 to 24 hours. Even so, it’s best to get an expert’s opinion to help the cat get back to its purrfect condition.
The vet will do this in various ways, and medical treatment is especially necessary for cats that ate a large chunk of Dracaena. Firstly, the vet will make the cat vomit out the plant materials in its stomach. After a long period of vomiting, the cat will most likely be dehydrated.
In case of dehydration, your job will be to ensure you give your kitty enough fluids until the cat has recovered. If it’s severely dehydrated, the vet will hospitalize it and supplement the cat with electrolytes and intravenous fluids.
Recovery from Poisoning
Recovery should happen within 24 hours or once all of the plant material the cat consumed has left its system. There are also no lasting effects related to the poisoning. This has given rise to the question, “is Dracaena toxic to cats or just indigestible?”
And while that debate rages on, it’s better to stay on the safe side and treat the plant as toxic. That way, your cat can’t be harmed.
Dracaena and Cats: Can They Co-Exist?
Having read the above, it’s clear that Dracaena and cats aren’t a good combination. At the same time, this doesn’t mean you can’t come home to both. This will largely depend on your efforts and your cat’s personality.
If your cat has never touched or eaten any house plants, it may be safe to get the Dragon Tree. This goes for owners who’ve had their feline for a while and know its behavior. For beginner cat owners who may be oblivious to certain behaviors currently, the Dragon Tree is not recommended.
But, as mentioned previously, coexistence is possible. You just need to make sure the plant is out of the cat’s reach.
Putting the Dracaena plant in a room with a door that’s closed off to the cat is a great start. The best room for this would be the bathroom, as it will keep the cat safe and let the plant grow.
Alternatively, you can get the NaturVet repellent spray that’s safe for plants and keeps pets away. You should also clean up any leaves that may fall from the plant as the cat may eat them.
At the same time, kitties are pretty intelligent. If it eats the Dragon Tree and has a bad reaction, it probably won’t go looking for trouble again.
Houseplants Safe for Cats
While the Dracaena marginata is toxic for cats, there are several houseplants that improve your home’s aesthetic and keep cats safe. These include the yellow palm, a selection of bamboo plants, banana plants, catnip (cats love them) and more.
You can find the complete list of non-toxic houseplants on the ASPCA website.
In Summary: Are Dracaena Toxic to Cats
As a cat owner, your feline relies on you to keep it safe from anything that might harm it. This includes eye-catching houseplants like the Dragon Tree. The plant is toxic to cats and should be away from them.
If your cat comes into contact with the plant, it should recover from mild symptoms in 12 to 24 hours. Still, it’s best to get a vet involved to cover all bases.
However, you can own both this plant and a cat by taking a few careful and responsible steps. Keeping it out of your feline’s reach is imperative. And if the cat nibbles at the plant, remember to take it to the vet. This will ensure it recovers safely and quickly.
Do you have any experiences with having both the Dragon Tree and a kitty under the same roof? Share it with me on my socials or in the comments.
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