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Are Croton Plants Toxic to Cats? What Do I Do If They Eat One?


The croton (Codiaeum variegatum), also called garden croton, is a superb perennial plant native to Malaysia.1 Its leathery, lobed leaves take on beautiful bright colors when exposed to light. During the summer, tiny yellow star-shaped flowers may appear in clusters.

However, if you are a cat owner, you probably already know the attraction that your beautiful indoor plants have on your curious little feline. While most are safe for cats, the croton sadly is not. Indeed, the Pet Poison Helpline has it in its list of poisonous plants for pets.2 Read on to learn the symptoms of croton ingestion by cats and what to do if it happens.


What Happens If Your Cat Ingests a Croton Plant?

If you catch your cat chewing on a piece of your lovely croton plant, be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Skin irritation (especially if the cat has been in contact with the sap)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestion problems

These symptoms are due to oral and gastrointestinal irritation in your pet. They may take a while time to appear, depending on the amount ingested and the time spent in your cat’s digestive system. Fortunately, reactions to croton ingestion tend to be mild.

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

What to Do If Your Cat Ingests a Croton Plant

Although serious complications from croton ingestion are fairly rare, the symptoms should not be taken lightly, or your cat may develop more serious health problems.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested a croton plant, make sure to:

  • Call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline ((855) 764-7661). The degree of toxicity of a plant can vary depending on the amount ingested, your cat’s physical condition, age, and other factors. Calling a professional is therefore the first step when you believe that your pet has eaten something toxic.
  • Do not try to make your cat vomit, unless clearly told to do so by your veterinarian.
  • Check your cat’s litter regularly. Note any changes in the color, texture, and shape of their stool.
  • Observe their behavior. A cat in pain tends to hide, be more nervous, refuse food, meow louder, and even be more aggressive.

hepper cat paw divider

How to Keep Your Cat Safe

The good news is that the croton plant has a bitter taste that usually puts cats off. Therefore, it is quite possible that even if your kitty chews on a piece, its repulsive taste will make them regret their curiosity. Nevertheless, since prevention is better than cure, it is best to keep your croton plant out of reach of your intrepid feline.

However, if you want full peace of mind, there are plenty of other beautiful indoor plants that are safe for cats:


Image Credit: MartinPhotography, Pixabay

Part of the succulent family, Haworthia looks like the aloe plant. Its long, pointed leaves also give it a bit of a cactus-like appearance (minus the thorns!).

In addition, this plant is as easy to maintain as succulents, requiring a bit of water and a large amount of indirect light. It’s perfect on a decorative shelf or at the corner of your work desk!


sword fern
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

The fern is a classic and 100% safe for your four-legged creatures. In addition, it adapts to all styles of decoration. You just have to change its pot to give it a completely different look!


String of pearls succulent plant
Image Credit: Veronicatxoxo, Pixabay

These have been invading Pinterest boards for a few years, and we understand why! Colorful, easy to care for, and oh-so-pretty, succulents are also safe for little kittens.

Spider plant

Spider Plant on a wooden table
Image Credit: Bozhena Melnyk, Shutterstock

The spider plant is an omnipresent decoration. Often hung in a planter or perched on top of kitchen cabinets, it is harmless for your beloved feline.

Moreover, these plants have the particularity of having “babies” quite quickly, so you will get several plants for the price of one!

African violet

african violets
Image Credit: Peggychoucair, Pixabay

The African violet is a beautiful plant with domed leaves and colorful flowers. It’s perfect for giving a touch of shine to a piece of furniture or a corner that lacks a little love.

hepper cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

Croton plants are toxic to cats, and ingestion may cause oral and gastrointestinal irritation. Fortunately, these reactions are usually mild and temporary. However, if you notice any signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, or skin irritation in your pet, you should contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Featured Image Credit: ClaireDiaz, Pixabay

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