There's no denying it; Fiddle Leaf Fig trees are popular! And if you're considering adding a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree to your collection, you may wonder, "Are Fiddle Leaf Fig trees toxic to cats?"
The answer, according to the ASPCA? Yes.
Of course, many houseplants are poisonous to cats, but there's also a list of plants safe for cats. So let's dive deeper into the potential dangers of Fiddle Leaf Fig trees and what you can do to keep your furry friend safe.
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Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees Are Toxic To Cats
1. Which Part of the Fiddle Leaf Fig is Dangerous to Your Cat?
The leaves, stems, and roots all contain insoluble calcium oxalates, a naturally occurring toxin in some plants.
Calcium oxalate is a tiny sharp crystal that can easily penetrate soft tissues, such as:
The lining of the mouth
When ingested, these crystals can cause abrasions and cuts, leading to:
In addition, calcium oxalate crystals can trigger an immune response, leading to swelling and further irritation. The body may also try to remove the crystals by producing mucus, which can cause coughing or difficulty breathing in severe cases.
2. Why Would Your Cat Eat Your Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Cats are naturally curious and love to explore their environment, which includes investigating and tasting new objects, including plants. Your Fiddle Leaf Fig can be particularly appealing to your cats for a few reasons:
The broad, leathery leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig tree have a distinctive texture that some cats may find interesting to touch or bite.
Cats have a highly developed sense of smell and are naturally curious. Some cats may find the smell of the sap appealing due to its unique, musky scent.
The sap of the fiddle leaf fig tree contains ficin, a proteolytic enzyme found in many fig tree species. This substance has a bitter taste that some cats might find palatable. Luckily, the irritant factor in this plant (the tiny sharp calcium oxalate crystals) is strong enough that most cats quit after one bite or chew.
It's important to remember that even a tiny amount of the plant can cause harm to your cat, so it's critical to take steps to prevent your cat from accessing the plant in the first place.
3. How Can You Prevent Your Cat from Eating Your Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Keeping your Fiddle Leaf Fig and curious cat apart will require creative planning.
Here are some tips to help prevent your cat from eating your plant:
Keep the plant out of reach.
Place the Fiddle Leaf Fig tree on a high shelf or in a room your cat cannot access. Keep the door closed.
Create a physical barrier.
Use a plant stand or trellis to create a fence around the tree. Your cat will either see it as a challenging new obstacle to climb, or if you're lucky, it will prevent your cat from getting too close to your Fiddle Leaf.
Deter your cat with scent.
Cats don't like strong scents like citrus, eucalyptus, or lavender.
Place citrus peels or use citrus-scented sprays or candles around areas you want to keep your cat away from. Alternatively, use lavender-scented cleaning products or add Eucalyptus oil to a diffuser.
Use a bitter spray.
Purchase a bitter-tasting spray to deter cats from chewing on plants. Apply it to the leaves of the Fiddle Leaf Fig tree to make it unappealing to your cat.
Provide enough stimulation.
Provide your cat with plenty of safe and appropriate toys and activities to help redirect its attention away from your plants. Make playtime a part of your cat's daily routine, and hopefully, it'll be too tired to explore the taste of your plants.
Remove all Fiddle Leaf trees from your home.
The safest and most permanent solution would be to not have any plants in your house that can cause harm to your cats. This option will provide absolute ease of mind and stress-free living; you'll never have to worry that your cat might harm itself by eating a toxic plant. Or...you can get rid of your cats and keep the plants...up to you.
4. What Should You Do if Your Cat Eats Your Fiddle Leaf Fig?
Acting quickly is crucial if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree. If your cat happens to take a nibble on your Fiddle Leaf Fig, the symptoms may include the following:
Pawing at the mouth
In severe cases, cats may experience difficulty breathing, loss of coordination, and even seizures.
Here are the steps you should take:
Watch for symptoms - Keep an eye on your cat for any signs of poisoning, and note any changes in behavior or appetite.
Call your veterinarian - Immediately contact your veterinarian or an animal poison control center. They can guide what to do next and may recommend bringing your cat in for medical attention.
Depending on what part of the plant they have eaten and the amount, treatment could involve:
Washing the affected areas with soap and water
Supportive care such as IV fluids or medication
The Bottom Line
While Fiddle Leaf Fig trees can be a beautiful addition to your home, they are toxic to cats. Taking precautions such as keeping the plant out of reach, creating barriers, and using deterrents can help prevent your cat from accessing the plant. If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree part, seek immediate veterinary attention.