Are ZZ Plants Toxic To Cats?

Are ZZ Plants Toxic To Cats? Let’s decode the plant for your feline and learn whether they can safely coexist!

Do you ever wonder—Are ZZ Plants Toxic To Cats? Could your charming ZZ be harboring a perilous secret right under your nose? Let’s explore the intriguing relationship between ZZ plants and feline safety in this informative guide!

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What are ZZ Plants?

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ZZ plants, scientifically named Zamioculcas zamiifolia, are tough African natives, widely loved for their robust character and striking aesthetics. These plants reach a decent height of 2-4 feet, and boast glossy, dark green feather-shaped leaves, neatly arranged in a herringbone pattern along their stems.

With minimal maintenance demands and an ability to thrive in diverse lighting conditions, ZZ plants make for an attractive addition for urban homes and offices. Additionally, they possess a natural capacity to retain water in their underground stems, known as rhizomes, which enable them to endure periods of neglect and drought.

Not just that! ZZ plants are potent in purifying the environment from airborne toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene, further cementing their reputation as an indoor plant. So if you are a busy plant parent, juggling between a hectic lifestyle and a dire love for plants, the beautiful ZZ plants have your back!

Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Cats?


Yes, ZZ plants are toxic to cats.

Like many other members of the Araceae family, ZZ plantscontain a sap with calcium oxalate crystals. These tiny, sharp-edged crystals serve as a natural defense mechanism for the plant, deterring animals from eating it by causing a burning sensation upon contact or ingestion. While these crystals help the plant survive in the wild, they can pose a health risk to cats. If ingested, the calcium oxalate can cause symptoms like gastrointestinal upset and excessive drooling.

Although consuming a ZZ plant is generally not life-threatening for cats, immediate veterinary treatment can manage symptoms and bring your pet bacl to health. Therefore, it’s best to keep these plants out of the reach of cats to prevent any accidental ingestion.

Why do Cats Nibble on Houseplants?

Cats are known for their quirky behaviors, and one puzzling habit they sometimes exhibit is—nibbling on houseplants. Here are some potential reasons why your feline friend might indulge in this greenery-munching behavior:

  • Curiosity at Play: Cats are naturally inquisitive creatures, and they often explore their surroundings by chewing on objects, including houseplants, as supported by science.
  • Digestive Aid: Some experts suggest that cats may nibble on plants as a way to help with digestion. The plant fibers can act as a natural aid, aiding in regurgitating hairballs or facilitating digestion.
  • Nutritional Quest: Cats have an innate instinct to seek out additional nutrients. They may chew on plants in an attempt to acquire vitamins or minerals they believe they lack in their diet.
  • Battling Boredom: Cats, like humans, can get bored. If they’re not sufficiently stimulated or engaged in playtime, they might resort to chewing on plants as a form of entertainment.
  • Texture and Taste Delight: Just like humans have food preferences, some cats simply enjoy the texture and taste of certain plants. Chewing on them can be a pleasurable sensory experience for your pet.

If you are concerned about your cat frequently nibbling on houseplants, consult with your veterinarian for a personalized expert advice.

Signs of Ingestion and Treatment

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If you are not sure if your cat has ingested ZZ plants and are looking for some prominent signs, here what you must look for:

Signs of Ingestion:

  • Oral Irritation: Look for excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, or signs of discomfort in and around the mouth.
  • Vomiting: Your cat may vomit as a result of ingesting ZZ plant material. This can occur shortly after ingestion.
  • Gastrointestinal Upset: Watch for signs of gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea or changes in litter box habits.
  • Lethargy: If your cat suddenly appears sluggish, lethargic, or uninterested in usual activities, it could be a sign of plant ingestion.


  • Contact Your Veterinarian: The foremost step, you could possible take! Share as much information as possible about the ingestion, including when it occurred and the quantity ingested.
  • Do Not Induce Vomiting: Unlike some toxic substances, inducing vomiting is not recommended for ZZ plant ingestion, as it can exacerbate the irritation.
  • Medical Evaluation: Your veterinarian will assess your cat’s condition, which may include a physical examination, blood work, and diagnostic tests to determine the extent of the issue.
  • Supportive Care: Depending on the severity of symptoms, your cat may require supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, medications to alleviate discomfort, and treatment for any complications that may arise.
  • Prevent Future Incidents: To prevent future incidents, keep ZZ plants and other potentially toxic plants out of your cat’s reach.

Safe & Unsafe Houseplants for Cats

Here’s a list of some safe and unsafe houseplants for cats according to ASPCA:

Houseplants Toxic to Cats:

  • Lilies (Various Species): Lilies are highly toxic to cats, especially Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and Asiatic lilies. Ingesting any part of these plants can lead to severe kidney damage or failure.
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): Pothos plants contain compounds that can cause oral irritation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing in cats.
  • Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane): Ingesting the leaves or stems of the Dieffenbachia plant can lead to intense burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue, along with swelling.
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander): Oleander is highly toxic, and even small ingestions can lead to severe heart problems and potentially be fatal to cats.
  • Azalea (Rhododendron spp.): Azaleas are toxic and can cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling in cats. Severe cases can result in heart arrhythmias and even death.

Non-Toxic to Cats:

  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): Spider plants are safe for cats and are often used as houseplants. Cats may play with the long, arching leaves, but ingestion is not harmful.
  • African Violet (Saintpaulia spp.): African violets are non-toxic to cats and can add a pop of color to your home without posing a danger to your feline friend.
  • Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens): Areca palms are non-toxic and can be an attractive addition to your indoor decor.
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata): Boston ferns are safe for cats and can thrive as houseplants. Cats may be curious about the fronds but can nibble on them without harm.
  • Bamboo (Bambusoideae spp.): Bamboo plants are generally non-toxic to cats. They are a low-maintenance and decorative choice.

Tips to Keep Cats Away from Houseplants

shutterstock/Mikhail Olykainen

Cats and houseplants often make an interesting combination, but the results can be less than desirable for both your flora and your feline friend. Fortunately, there are various ways to protect your plants and keep your cat entertained. Here’s how:

  • Divert Attention with Catnip: Catnip (Nepeta cataria) contains nepetalactone, a compound that entices many cats. Redirect your cat’s attention by providing catnip-infused toys or sprays. They’ll be drawn to these catnip-scented delights.
  • Use Cat Balm: Cat balms often contain catnip or other safe herbs, offering a pleasant scent and texture that cats adore. Apply cat balm to designated scratching posts or toys, encouraging your cat to focus their scratching and playtime there.
  • Utilize Cat-Proofing Tools: Use pet-safe bitter apple spray on plant leaves. Cats dislike the taste, deterring them from chewing. Employ double-sided tape at the base of plants to discourage scratching or digging. You can also place citrus peels or air fresheners with citrus scents near your plants to discourage them.
  • Elevate and Hangthe Houseplants: Position houseplants on high shelves, plant stands, or hang them from the ceiling. Cats can’t reach them, making them less tempting.
  • Shield the Soil: Cover plant soil with rocks, pine cones, or aluminum foil. This prevents digging and uprooting by curious cats.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Gently say “No” if you catch your cat nibbling plants. Offer treats or praise when they leave the plants alone to reinforce good behavior.


In our exploration of the question, “Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Cats?” we conclude that ZZ plants are toxic to cats due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in theur leaves. When ingested, these crystals can cause symptoms like gastrointestinal upset and excessive drooling in cats.

While not typically life-threatening, immediate veterinary intervention is advised if a cat consumes any part of a ZZ plant. To ensure your pet’s safety, it’s best to keep these plants out of their reach.

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