Pet lovers are often also plant lovers. What can be better than seeing a lovely satisfied cat walking around your house, softly, among many wonderful plants with colorful flowers, such as Kalanchoe? Cats also like nature, and they prefer to live in a place with plant and trees, somehow imitating their natural habitat. The only problem is that some plants are toxic, and if ingested by cats, they can cause them problems. But what about Kalanchoe (Flaming Katy), one of the favorite succulents in the US and Europe? Is it poisonous to cats, and should you be worried?
Let me start with a quick answer: Kalanchoe is poisonous to cats, but it isn’t deadly. Just like with many other issues, though, a short answer isn’t really enough to explain all the nuances of the peculiar relationship of animals and plants. Many other questions come into mind: Do cats eat Kalanchoe, and why? In what quantities is it poisonous, and what problems can can it cause? And what precautions should you take? I will try to answer all your questions on the following lines.
Do cats eat Kalanchoe, and if they do, why?
As a rule of thumb, cats are obligate carnivores, and they do not eat plants, at least not in quantities. However, as every cat lover knows, a cat may sometimes eat grass, some flower, or a random plant. This phenomenon isn’t scientifically explained yet, though different theories do exist, ranging from simply imitating the behavior of their wild ancestors to being attracted by certain colors and scents in the plants.
Theory is one thing, practice another though. I’ve been a pet lover for years, and can confirm that this behavior really depends on the character of each individual cat, or dog. Some pets never eat plants, while others will take a bite almost daily. And I am confident to say that the same applies to Kalanchoes. What I try to say here is that if you basically never see your cat eating plants, the chances are high it won’t take any interest in your colorful Kalanchoes. On the contrary, if your beloved pet devours grass and plants in your garden almost on a daily basis, you need to be more careful when it comes to the toxicity of the plants.
What quantity of Kalanchoe is poisonous to cats?
People generally underestimate the instincts of their animals. Animals often eat strange things, especially when you take them to the nature with you, but they almost always know why. You should also remember that many poisons are used as a cure in medicine, in little quantities. Dogs and cats may take a bite of different things in the wild, trying to address certain discomfort in their stomach, or other issue they face. They do it instinctively and their instincts are rarely wrong. Hence if your cat eats one flower of Kalanchoe (or any other plant) at random, in my opinion it isn’t really a reason to worry…
Kalanchoe contains cardiac toxins (bufadienolides), but ingestion by dogs and cats most often results in gastrointestinal irritation or upset. If a large enough amount is ingested you may observe changes in heart rate and rhythm, and if a huge amount is consumed (which is super unlikely to happen), the cat (especially if still young or old and already weak) may even collapse. What I try to say here that while in my opinion you shouldn’t worry for no reason, if you see your cat devouring an entire plant of Kalanchoe, it is perhaps a good idea calling your vet immediately.
Symptoms of poisoning by Kalanchoe in pets
I’ve seen cats and dogs eating bits of Kalanchoe, but except of looking mildly upset once, I’ve never seen (or heard from another per lover) of serious cases of poisoning by this particular plant. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. What I try to say here is that if you aren’t sure, and the cat doesn’t look all right, you should always take it to the vet (and open your valet). Veterinary doctor can easily monitor the body functions of your cat and tell if something’s wrong, and whether you should take any measures. That’s hardly something you can do back home.
Of course, if a cat looks or acts strange and at the same time you see a pot with half-eaten Kalanchoe plant, you can easily connect the dots and know what happened. What I like a lot about cats is that when they feel bad, they will let you know, in their own way, and you should not underestimate such signals.
Precautions you can take to avoid cat poisoning with Kalanchoe (Flaming Katy)
What most people suggest (but I do not agree with) is keeping your cats away from your Kalanchoes. In my opinion it is a stupid advice, for a couple of reasons. First of all, no place at your home is safe from a healthy cat. Healthy cats can climb and jump to basically any spot in your house. Unless you hang your pots with Kalanchoe from the ceiling in the middle of the room, you cannot be sure cats won’t reach them. And secondly, your domestic plants and animals should live in harmony. You try to recreate the natural coexistence here, instead of separating the two together. So what is the best precaution then?
In my opinion, the key is to keep your cat well-fed and healthy. If it enjoys eating some greens once in a while, make sure to incorporate fresh grass (or something else attractive) in the diet of your pet. Once it gets what it needs from you, it will have no reason taking a bite on your Kalanchoe, or other plant. Cats are pretty smart animals. Unless they are starving or experiencing some serious health issues, they won’t do stupid things such as eating house plants around your home. Hence the best precaution is really taking good care of your cat.
Kalanchoe is poisonous to cats, but it doesn’t mean you should not have both at your home. Cats won’t eat Kalanchoe (or other succulents) in quantities that can harm them, unless they are starving or experiencing some health issues (mostly with their stomach), and instinctively trying to eat something green to deal with the parasites they feel inside. If that happens and your cat eats a lot of Kalanchoe (which is super rare but it can happen), or if it is an old cat with weak heart, take your cat to the vet immediately. Hope this helps, and I wish you good luck with both your plants and animals!
* Disclaimer: The content on this page is for general information purposes only. We are pet and plant lovers (and have real life experience with cats and succulents), but we aren’t medical professionals. Hence we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information contained on this website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. If you aren’t sure, contact a vet or other professional.
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