Is Cordyline Toxic to Cats? (What Symptoms..)

Yes, cordyline plants are toxic to cats. All parts of the plant contain saponins, which may result in vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Additionally, contact with the leaves or stems can cause skin irritation.

If a cat has ingested any part of the cordyline plant, immediate veterinary attention is recommended, as the toxins can cause life-threatening complications in cats. To ensure your feline companion’s safety, ensure all cordyline plants are kept well out of reach.

Here in this blog post, I’ll explain why cordyline is dangerous for cats, how to recognize potential signs of toxicity, and what owners can do if their cat ingests a part of the plant.

By understanding the risks associated with cordyline plants, we can help keep our cats safe from harm. So let’s get started!

Different Studies about Cordyline Toxicity on Cats

Different Studies about Cordyline Toxicity on Cats

In order to assess the toxic effects of cordyline on cats, two separate experiments were conducted by researchers from Florida International University and Banfield Pet Hospital. In the first study, three indoor-only cats were exposed to a concentrated solution of cordyline extract for five days.

The researchers observed clinical signs such as vomiting, lethargy, and increased respiratory rate along with lab results indicating elevated levels of white blood cells and electrolytes in the urine sample after just one day of exposure. This study concluded that ingested cordyline may be toxic to cats. 

The second experiment was conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital and involved a single cat that had been exposed to a large amount of cordyline plant material. This cat developed clinical symptoms including vomiting, anorexia, ataxia, hindlimb hyperreflexia, stupor, and twitching over several days following ingestion of the plant material.

Lab work revealed an elevated liver enzyme count along with low glucose levels in this cat’s blood sample. These findings suggest that cordyline exposure caused neurotoxin poisoning in this cat case studied. 

In conclusion, both of these studies suggest that cordyline plants (or anything made from them) are poisonous to cats. If a cat ingests this plant material, they will get very sick and may even die if not treated by a professional vet immediately.

Also Read: Is Cyclamen Toxic to Cats? (Symptoms & Treatments)

Which Part of Cordyline is Toxic to Cats?

The entire plant of the Cordyline fruticosa is toxic to cats. All parts contain saponins, which are plant toxins that can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and skin irritation when ingested or touched.

If a cat ingests even small amounts of cordyline, they may experience vomiting and diarrhea as well as severe abdominal pain. Additionally, contact with the leaves or stems may cause skin irritation.

Also Read: Is Coleus Toxic to Cats? (Symptoms & Treatments)

Diagnosis of Cordyline Toxicity in Cats

If you think your cat ingested part of a cordyline plant, take note of any changes in their behavior or physical appearance. This will help your vet more accurately diagnose the toxicity. Also, write down how much plant material they ate. This information will assist your veterinarian in recommending the best treatment for them.

1. Behavioral or Physical Diagnosis

If your cat has consumed any part of a cordyline plant, symptoms will generally develop within half a day of exposure and can last for two days or more in some circumstances.

Symptoms of Cordyline Toxicity in Cats

According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), some of the common signs of cordyline toxicity in cats include:

SymptomsHow to Identify?
Vomiting (occasionally with blood)Look for cats to have sudden and intense retching, followed by various amounts of vomit with or without food particles.
DiarrheaLoose, watery stool with an unappetizing odor.
LethargyPay close attention to your cat’s activity level. If they are sleeping more than usual or appear more sluggish, this may be a symptom of toxicity.
AnorexiaMonitor your cat’s food and water intake. If they are not eating or drinking, this could be a sign of cordyline toxicity
HypersalivationCheck for excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth
Dilated PupilsLook for dilated pupils, which could indicate the presence of a toxin in their system

2. Medical Diagnosis

Blood work, urinalysis, and fecal examination are all tests your veterinarian might run to determine if cordyline toxicity is present in your cat. Blood tests check for organ damage the toxin may have caused while a urinalysis and fecal exam let the vet know if any of the toxins remain in your pet’s system.

If the biopsy is necessary, it can help the vet determine if any of the organs have been damaged. Additionally, your vet may suggest an abdominal X-Ray to get a better view of your cat’s internal organs and check for any signs of infection or blockage.

First Aid Treatment for Cats Who Ingest Cordyline

If you suspect your cat has ingested cordyline, contact a veterinarian right away. If possible, bring along a sample of the plant material they ingested so the vet can identify it.

While you’re preparing yourself to take your feline friend to the vet, there are some initial steps you can take.

1. Remove Anything from Your Cat’s Mouth

After you catch your cat eating a plant, try to quickly remove any fragments that remain in their mouth. Did you know which part of the plant they ingested? If not, it is better to err on the side of caution and try to remove any possible cordyline fragments from your pet’s mouth.

2. Wash Your Cat’s Mouth Out

Once you have removed all material, use a damp cloth or water to gently wash your cat’s mouth. This will help reduce the amount of toxins they ingested and decrease the chances of further irritation.

Here are my best tips for cleaning your cat’s mouth, in case you’ve never had to do it before:

  • Try to calm your cat before you attempt to clean their mouth.
  • Wrap them in a towel and gently rub their fur with it to help them relax.
  • Use a damp cloth or water to clean the area around their mouth and tongue.
  • Do not use any soap or other cleaning products.
  • Repeat the process several times to make sure all plant material has been removed.

3. Give Your Cat Enough Fluids

Give your cat plenty of fluids if they consume cordyline. This will help flush the toxins out of their system. But some cats may refuse to drink after getting toxins in their system. To get your cat hydrating, here are a few tips:

  • Try offering them their favorite flavor of wet food.
  • Put a few drops of tuna juice in their water bowl.
  • Offer them tasty treats like chicken broth or mashed pumpkin.
  • Place ice cubes in their water bowl and let them lick it off.

Treatments for Cordyline Poisoning in Cats

Here are some treatments your vet might recommend for cats with cordyline poisoning:

1. Emesis (Throwing up)

I know, it sounds gross, but emesis can help your cat expel any remaining toxins in their stomach before they cause further damage. This is generally done through an intravenous injection or orally administered medication.

2. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal works like a magnet and helps bind the toxins in your cat’s system so they are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Your vet may recommend giving your feline friend activated charcoal to help draw out any remaining toxins they may have ingested.

3. Fluid Therapy

Your veterinarian might suggest fluid therapy to help flush the toxins out of your cat’s system and ensure they stay hydrated. This can also help reduce any inflammation that may have occurred due to the toxin.

4. Antihistamines

Antihistamines can help reduce any inflammation and discomfort caused by cordyline poisoning. Your vet might suggest giving your cat antihistamines to help alleviate their symptoms.

5. Vitamin K Therapy

Vitamin K helps clot your pet’s blood and can help reduce the risk of blood loss due to cordyline poisoning. Your vet may suggest a vitamin K injection or oral medication to help prevent further complications.

The Prognosis for Cats Who Have Eaten Cordyline

The prognosis for cats who have ingested cordyline will depend on how much was ingested, the size of your cat, and how quickly you seek medical attention. But here I’ll try to give you a rough estimation of how your cat’s prognosis might look.

a. Your Cat Has Only Ingested a Small Amount

Well, a study done by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 2012 found that cats who have only ingested a small amount of cordyline can make a full recovery with no lasting side effects or complications.

b. Your Cat Has Ingested a Large Amount of Cordyline

If your cat has ingested a large amount of cordyline, they may be at risk for developing more serious symptoms such as seizures, muscle weakness, and respiratory issues. But with prompt medical attention and support from your veterinarian, your cat can still make a full recovery.

Recovery Stages for Cats With Cordyline Poisoning

The recovery process for cats with cordyline poisoning can be divided into three stages.

1. Stage 1: Most Valuable Immediate Treatment

In this stage, the most important and valuable treatment is to remove any remaining toxins from your cat’s system. This can be done using emesis, activated charcoal, and fluids.

2. Stage 2: Stabilization and Monitoring

In this stage, your vet will closely monitor your cat’s progress to make sure they are stable and to ensure no further complications arise. Your vet may also give your cat vitamin K injections or oral medication to help prevent blood loss.

3. Stage 3: Recovery and Follow-Up Care

In the last stage, your vet will continue to monitor your cat’s progress but may also suggest that you bring them home for follow-up care. This could include administering antihistamines, giving fluids, and providing supportive care at home.

Prevention Method for Cordyline Poisoning in Cats

It is clear that the best way to prevent cordyline poisoning in your cats is to keep them away from plants. But what if you already have one and don’t want to get rid of it? There are plenty of methods, but here are a few:

1. Use a Deterrent

You can use a deterrent such as bitter apple spray to keep your cat away from the plant. This will help discourage them from chewing on or ingesting the plant.

Not in the mood to purchase a deterrent spray? Here are my home-made recipes that you can make:

  • Lemon Juice Mixture: Mix equal parts of water and lemon juice in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto the leaves and stems of your cordyline. The acidity in the lemon juice will help repel cats from eating it.
  • Vinegar Mixture: This one is my most commonly used deterrent as vinegar is easy to get in my wife’s pantry. Simply mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it to the leaves and stems of your cordyline.

2. Create a Barrier

You can create a physical barrier between your pet and the poisonous plant by either placing it in a room your cat can’t get into or putting a cage around it.

Let’s find out how can you make and install the cage:

  • Purchase a pet-proof wire mesh or plastic mesh cage that is at least twice the size of your cat.
  • Place the cage around the plant and secure it in place with zip ties or duct tape.
  • Make sure to check the cage regularly for any signs of wear and tear, as your cat may be trying to get in.

3. Provide Alternative Chewing Plants

Yes, some cats are obsessional chewers. Therefore, providing alternative plants for your cats to chew on can help divert their attention from the toxic cordyline. But make sure that whatever plant you choose for your cat is safe for them to eat.

I highly recommend these plants as alternative chew toys:

  • Cat grass
  • Catnip
  • Wheatgrass
  • Oat grass
  • Valerian grass
  • Cat thyme
  • Catmint

My Final Thoughts

As you can see now, cordyline poisoning in cats can be very serious and even life-threatening. Therefore, it is extremely important to take any necessary precautions to keep your cats away from this plant.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure. So, if you have a cordyline plant at home, I strongly suggest that you follow the aforementioned prevention methods to protect your cats.

Lastly, if you suspect that your cat has ingested any part of the cordyline plant, do not hesitate to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Early intervention is key to preventing serious complications from occurring.

With this, I hope that you now have a better understanding of how to keep your cats safe from cordyline poisoning.

That’s all for now and thank you for reading! Stay safe and take care of your furry friends. 🙂

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