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Is Bamboo Toxic to Cats? What You Need to Know

Maybe you’re a first-time kitty owner and wondering how your thriving bamboo is going to get along with your new feline friend.

While there are many air-purifying houseplants that are safe for cats, perhaps you never knew that some of your luscious indoor plants might be toxic for both cats and dogs. 

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There are many plant species that are a clear no-go for your kitty. However, bamboo is one of those plants that owners are generally confused about. As you can likely tell from the title of this article, many of us are a little lost when it comes to whether bamboo is safe for cats. I know I was when I first brought my cat home.

Is Bamboo toxic to cats? While the ASPCA straight-up states that it’s non-toxic, this is only true for a few of the popular bamboo plants. There are various species of bamboo – some are poisonous to cats, others are perfectly safe.

I’m here to help shed some light on the issue and let you know what’ll work for your kitty and what you’ll have to avoid. There are also things that I found worked for me and my cat Athena.

Bamboo and Cats at Home

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There’s no better feeling than coming home to a house full of green plants and your furry cat friends. Bamboo is one of those plants that anybody can own; don’t worry about having a green thumb, the plant basically takes care of itself.

Bamboo, like Bamboo Proper, makes a great addition to your forest-inspired, backyard plant collection. They’re easy to maintain and easy on the eyes. What more could you ask for in a plant?

When it comes to cats and bamboo, there are a few things you’re going to have to be aware of. Mostly the type of bamboo you wish to invest in – is it poisonous or not. And surprisingly, the personality of your cat.

Do you have a domestic cat with the personality of a lion ruling the jungle? You might find that cats with playful personalities think of houseplants as their playmates. While this isn’t a life or death situation, it just means you’ll be picking up a lot of knocked-over plants.

Is Bamboo Poisonous to Cats?

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In terms of the type of bamboo, not all of the plants have equal properties. Golden bamboo, like the one you’d see in the jungle or growing wildly, is usually sold as cuttings and then displayed in beautiful glass jars. Or simply grown in the backyard. 

True bambusoideae species of bamboo are considered safe for cats and are non-toxic.

The bambusoideae species are primarily grown outdoors, where your cat is most likely to wander. It’ll be no problem for kitties to play in the foliage and feel like they’re roaming through a forest.  

Plus, they’re plenty of fun for cats to play with.

The problem comes with indoor houseplants. Before letting the excitement of getting a new plant kick in, it’s your responsibility as a cat owner to research what is safe for your baby.

Popular indoor plants include Lucky Bamboo (also known as Goddess of Mercy’s plant, and Curly Bamboo) and Heavenly Bamboo. These varieties aren’t the best additions for households with cats. They’re toxic and can produce mild to moderate symptoms if eaten, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Are Bamboo Leaves Poisonous?

While Lucky Bamboo is seen as a sign of happiness and prosperity to us, it doesn’t always have the same connection for our cats. The leaves of this particular plant have a mild toxicity level, which can be harmful to your house pets. However, symptoms are generally mild.

The shoots of Lucky Bamboo are what you need to look out for. They are said to contain taxiphyllin and saponins, which can cause a lot more upset than the actual leaves.

However, this does sound a lot scarier when you don’t consider the fact that, generally, cats don’t actually eat the stem and shoots of plants. Yes, at times you might catch them swatting a leaf or two, but it’s unlikely that your cat is going to swallow parts of the plant.

Green bamboo plant in a pot on a white chair. Small plants in a vase to decorate the house and office building.

Are Bamboo Plants Poisonous to Cats on the Touch?

Unlike plants like Stinging Nettle, Poison Ivy, and Hogweed, any type of bamboo is safe to touch. Meaning that simply touching, feeling, or brushing against a bamboo plant is perfectly fine.

Bamboo is a beautiful plant, and if you plan on becoming a cat mom or dad, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw out all of your bamboo babies. There are some simple tips and tricks you can use to ensure that your new fluff doesn’t come into contact with your indoor bamboo.

Plants can be placed on standing shelves, or raised pot plants to avoid your kitty getting to them. This is a quick solution to ensure your cat and plants stay happy and thriving. 

For those of you who are more hands-on, and possibly working from home, you can always evaluate how your cat is feeling about your indoor plants. Are they constantly sniffing and searching around the plants? Do they have a tendency to chew on the leaves?

You can assess your cat’s interest in the plants and determine whether it is safe to keep your green friends around.

Bamboo Poisonous to Cats: Types to Look Out For

The best way to gain an understanding of whether a bamboo plant is considered poisonous is to know its scientific name. By knowing their scientific name, you can ensure that you understand exactly what plant you’re getting and whether they’re safe to keep around your pet.

As a fellow cat mom, I’ve got your back when it comes to looking after your kitty. Below are plants that attach the name bamboo to their label, but are toxic for your cat.  

  1. Scientific name: Dracaena spp

Common name: Lucky Bamboo, Ribbon Plant, Money Tree, Dragon Tree, Dracaena

Description: Sword-shaped leaves with yellowish-green strips. Often the leaves appear very glossy.

  1. Scientific name: Nandina domestica

Common name: Heavenly Bamboo, Sacred Bamboo, Nandina

Description: Burnt orange and red leaves, many stemmed shrubs

If you’re worried about any plant being toxic for your pet, it’s best to save yourself the stress and purchase one you know is 100% safe to have around the house.

Bamboo Safe for Cats: Non-Toxic Bamboo Plants

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Fear not! There are some bamboo plants that you can scatter around your house without worrying whether they’ll be dangerous for your pet.  

  1. Scientific name: Phyllostachys aurea

Common name: Bamboo, Golden Bamboo, Fishpole Bamboo

Description: Distinguishable golden shoots and lanceolate leaves

  1. Scientific name: Smilax walteri

Common name: Red Berried Bamboo, Red Berried Greenbrier

Description: Shrub with small red berries and excellent foliage

  1. Scientific name: Chamaedorea elegans

Common name: Good Luck Palm (not the same as Lucky Bamboo), Parlor Palm, Bamboo Palm, Reed Palm

Description: Light green fronds

  1. Scientific name: Smilax laurifolia

Common name: Bamboo Vine, Laurel-leaved Greenbrier, Blaspheme Vine

Description: Woody, green vine

Is Bamboo Bad for Cats: What Happens if Part of the Plant is Ingested?

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Some cats find pleasure in gently gnawing on your houseplants. As with dogs, you might even find your cat eating grass. 

But can cats eat bamboo and will they be okay if they do?

If your cat happens to ingest a toxic bamboo plant, they are likely to experience mild to moderate symptoms of toxic poisoning.  

Luckily, a cat’s body knows what’s up. Once their tummies have identified an unpleasing or toxic compound, they’ll quickly try to regurgitate it. Other plants, like a Fiddle Leaf Fig, release toxins that cause a needle-like sensation in a cat’s mouth, causing them to spit it out straight away.

If, however, your kitty has swallowed a fair share of bamboo, the following side effects are common: 

●      Nausea

●      Vomiting

●      Abdominal pain

●      Diarrhoea

●      Dilated pupils

●      Anxiety

●      Drooling

●      Weakness

●      Lack of coordination

Diagnosing your kitty is tricky. And because most people aren’t experts on houseplants and poisoning, it can be tough getting the correct evaluation.

If you notice that your cat isn’t feeling themselves and shows any of these symptoms, it’s always best to take them to the vet and voice your concerns.

Other Houseplants Safe For Felines

In addition to Bamboo Proper, there are a wide variety of other houseplants that can lighten up the room. Swedish ivy is a gorgeous hanging plant that can fill up some space in your house, while also remaining safe for cats. Boston fern is another great addition to your home, and it’ll practically look after itself.

Your Experience with Cats and Bamboo

Did you already know that bamboo is toxic to cats? It may have come as a surprise, but it turns out that a lot of the houseplants that we love and adore are toxic to our animal friends. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about bamboo plants and your cats’ experience with it. Have they had any major issues? Did you know straight away that their symptoms were caused by toxic poisoning?

Feel free to reach out to me in the comments or on my socials!

Final Thoughts: Are Bamboo Plants Safe For Cats?

It’s not nice hearing that some of the most gorgeous houseplants are toxic to cats. But the most important thing we want to do is keep our felines safe and happy. Even if that means skipping a few of the indoor plants. 

If you’re a lover of bamboo, growing non-toxic bamboo in the garden can be a great way to add some colour and density to your living space. Your cat is bound to love it just as much!

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