Zamioculas zamiifolia, also known as the ZZ Plant, is a dream plant for every plant lover and is often preferred by homeowners because of its low maintenance. It can grow in almost every condition and won’t require too much of your time to take care of. Despite its low maintenance, it is the most beautiful looking plant which often features in Instagram posts about beautiful indoor house plants. Nonetheless, it may leave you asking, “Are ZZ Plants Toxic for Cats?”
ZZ Plants have a maximum height of 3 feet, which is another reason why homeowners prefer this plant as an indoor plant. The fresh green-colored leaves are enough to make the interior of any office, apartment, or house a much more lively place. But a little downside to this beautiful plant is that it is toxic, even to your cats and other pets.
So, is the ZZ plant toxic to cats?
In short, Yes! The ZZ plant is toxic to your little furry friend. The toxicity lies in every part of the plant, e.g., leaves, roots, seeds, etc. So, if your feline comes into contact with any part of the ZZ plant, it will cause harm to the creature.
Not just cats, the ZZ plants are toxic to humans as well. However, the danger and proportion of toxicity it might cause are not that much, and the rumor that ZZ plants can cause cancer is utter nonsense. This is even proved by scientists who found that ZZ plants do not cause cancer in humans and cats.
But it doesn’t mean the ZZ plants are totally harmless. The toxicants in the ZZ plants can cause allergies, rashes, vomiting, and diarrhea-like symptoms.
Why are ZZ plants poisonous to cats?
The toxicity of ZZ plants stems from the toxicant molecule present in every part of the plant, namely, calcium oxalate crystals. This is the same agent responsible for the creation of kidney stones in human kidneys. These calcium oxalate crystals are needle-shaped and cause serious damage to cells.
These crystals, when ingested by cats, remain unabsorbed into the bloodstream. These crystals then cause damage to the cells lining the gastrointestinal tracts of cats by piercing all the cells coming into contact with them. This damage results in stomach discomfort, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea in your cats.
Also, the ZZ plants belong to the Araceae family, which is a toxic family of plants for cats and humans too. Aglaonema Modestrum, Monstera, and Anthurium are other toxic plant members of the Araceae family.
How poisonous are ZZ plants in reality?
Do all parts of ZZ plants have the same level of toxicity? The answer is no. All parts of ZZ plants do not cause the same reaction.
For example, rubbing against the ZZ plant has mildly harmful effects on cats, but if your feline nibbles on the leaves, it will have more serious effects. Because the cats have fur, there is less chance that your furry friend will develop skin irritation. But if they rub their non-furry parts onto the plant, then there are chances of mild skin irritation and eye-stinging.
If the cats ingest the leaves, then it is a more alarming situation. Serious diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach discomfort are the conditions your cat might experience. These symptoms also depend on the number of leaves eaten by your cat. For example, small quantities of ingested ZZ plants can cause a slight stomach ache, while large quantities of ingested ZZ plants can cause serious diarrhea.
In some cases, there is a minor risk of throat swelling in cats. But this will only occur if the cat has eaten large amounts of ZZ plants and if the cat has a hyperactive immune system.
Here have a look at the symptoms of ZZ Plant toxicity in your cats:
- Oral irritation is the first sign your cat will experience. The first bite will cause extreme pain in your feline’s oral parts, and they will salivate more in return.
- Reduction in appetite is the second synonym. When the burning sensation is moved to the throat, your cat will lose appetite and show no interest in eating.
- After throat and oral parts, if toxicants have moved to the stomach, then your cat will start experiencing gastrointestinal problems. Your cat might curl up into a ball due to the severity of the pain in its stomach. So, look closely for this symptom.
- Lastly, vomiting and diarrhea will occur based on how many ZZ plants your cat has ingested. In this situation, make sure your cat is hydrated and keeps its fluid level high.
How to keep your cat away from ZZ plants?
The most obvious solution to keeping your cats away from ZZ plants is to take the plant out of reach of the cats. If you want to keep the ZZ plants in your home and want your cat to stay away from them, do try out the following ways;
1. Use Scents as Deterrents
Cats have a strong sense of smell, and they can smell anything 15 times stronger than humans. You can use a scent deterrent to keep your cats away. Here, “scent deterrent” means the smell that cats hate, like that of citrus, vinegar, cinnamon, mustard, chili, and other such stuff.
Spray it on your plant and your cat will stay away from it due to its strong smell. You can also use cat deterrent spray, available on the market.
2. Use physical deterrents
Just like scent deterrents, you can also use physical deterrents. Yes, it can seem just about impossible to keep a curious cat away, but look for locations where it is more difficult to get to.
3. Provide other activities for your cats.
By keeping your cat busy with other activities, you can keep it away from the plant. Lots of stuffed toys, scratchy walls, a tree for your cat to climb, or other fun things will keep your cat busy.
Thankfully, ZZ plants are just mildly toxic and their ingestion or rubbing can cause only mild effects. The cats are intelligent creatures, and there is a very low chance that they will keep on nibbling the plant even after the first bite has caused the burning and pain in their oral parts.
Your cat will immediately spit out the plant after the first bite, so there will only be mild pain in your cat’s mouth or throat, which you can soothe away by keeping your cat hydrated. ZZ plants are loved and admired due to their low maintenance and air purifying abilities, so if you do want to have this plant in your home, we recommend you take the necessary precautions to keep your feline healthy and happy.