When you have a cat, you know just how complicated it is to keep your houseplants in one piece. Even though it’s usually the cat murdering your plants, some of these greens can be very toxic and even deadly to household pets.
All parts of the bird of paradise plant are toxic to cats—along with dogs and people. The seeds and fruit are the most toxic. Realistically, you shouldn’t have this plant in the house if you have cats to avoid potential toxicity. However, we will go over more about the plants and how to keep your cat safe.
Contact Your Vet as a Precaution
Now that you know the bird of paradise plant, or Strelitzia reginae, is toxic you likely want to know just how toxic it is and whether vet intervention is necessary.
If you think that your cat consumed quite a bit of this plant, you need to get them to your veterinarian immediately. While it usually only causes mild discomfort and a handful of gastrointestinal issues, large quantities can lead to more serious illness.
Even if you have questions or are unsure what to do, your vet’s office will know exactly what the next step should be.
What Is the Bird of Paradise Plant?
While you probably already know what the bird of paradise houseplant is, we want to explain it just to be safe. Sometimes we get house plants, and we’re not sure exactly what we bought, or we’re trying to identify the plant in question.
Luckily the bird of paradise flower, or crane flower, is an easy species to identify and comprises five species of perennial plants from South Africa. It gets its name from the exciting blooms that resemble a flying bird.
It is said to represent faithfulness, thoughtfulness, and love and is actually the official flower to celebrate someone’s 9th anniversary. All in all, the bird of paradise plant symbolizes wonderful things and brings joy, prosperity, and good luck.
The seeds and fruit of the bird of paradise contain a compound called tannic acid that can cause GI irritation, which will usually be mild unless your cat happens to eat a lot of the plant.
Eating the Bird of Paradise
You know cats; they’re always on the lookout for birds, regardless of whether they are flowers or creatures of flight! If they have brutally attacked or murdered your bird of paradise, you might wonder what the consequences will be.
Luckily, most cats will get one taste of the bird of paradise and wish they hadn’t. This plant is very bitter, and the likelihood that your cat will eat a large quantity is pretty small. However, if they’re ripping and tearing the plant apart, the oils and chemicals from inside of the plant can cause irritation to the digestive system.
Signs of Bird of Paradise Toxicity in Cats
According to the ASPCA, the bird of paradise is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. It is classified as a GI irritant, primarily affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
If your cat shows any of the following signs after consuming the bird of paradise plant, contact your vet for advice.
The ASPCA warns that another plant is also known as the bird of paradise, which is more toxic to cats than the bird of paradise you’re likely to encounter. This type of plant has the scientific name of Caesalpinia or Poinciana gilliesii.
Houseplant and Cats: The Dueling Duo
If you’re looking at this information, you already know that many house plants and cats just don’t mix sometimes. While it’s tempting to keep both, most reputable agencies will advise against owning toxic house plants when you have a domestic pet.
Some house plants cause mild irritation, while others can cause much more serious side effects, including death. If you own a toxic plant, such as the bird of paradise, you must prevent your cat from contacting the plant to avoid costly vet visits and overall trouble.
How to Keep Your Cat Away from Houseplants
If you have a highly toxic house plant, it’s best to not have it at all rather than risk your cat being affected. However, if the plant is only mildly toxic, you will want to figure out ways to keep your houseplants and cats safe.
Motion Activated Misters
Not many cats like being wet. So, if they’re going after your plants and continuously get a squirt of water, they are less likely to continue to go near them.
Safe, but Deterring Essential Oils
If you are going to use essential oils, it is important to make sure that they’re safe. Cats can be deterred by scents that don’t necessarily hurt them, such as citrus. Discuss the use of any essential oils with your vet first to be sure that the ones you want to use are safe for your cat.
Mount Plants Out of Reach
We know cats are jumpers and climbers. But there are certain areas of the home where you can put your plans that your cats can’t reach. You can also use ceiling hangers, and that can keep your plants safely overhead and out of touch.
Offer Cat Grass
If you have a plant chewer, they might benefit greatly from cat grass. Cat grass is a combination of oat, barley, and other average grasses that give your cat a little roughage in their diet. This directs your cat’s attention appropriately and may save your house plants from destruction.
Put Plants in a Cat-free Room
Designate a single room of the house that’s nice, bright, and sunny for your house plants. Don’t allow your cat access to the room at all. This way, your house plants stay intact, and you don’t have to worry about your kitty getting poisoned.
So now you know that the bird of paradise plant is, in fact, toxic to your feline friend. Keep them safe from exposure by putting them out of your cat’s reach or setting them in a room your cat cannot access.
You can even give your cat a little special treat by awarding them their very own patch of cat grass to safely allow them contact with plants.
Featured Image Credit: Vicente Manuel, Shutterstock