They can find their way home from great distances, know how to leave their scent behind to warn off intruders, and can sense when it is about to rain. However, they are not always so astute when it comes to determining what is safe to eat.

Plants are a favourite food of some cats, and there is always a plentiful supply both indoors and out. It’s a good idea to know your plants so you can keep your cat from eating the wrong ones.

So, are ferns toxic to cats?

No, most ferns are not toxic to cats. In general, most ferns are safe for cats to eat. The difficulty is recognizing which plants are “true ferns” and which ones only resemble ferns. Cats can be poisoned by some of these look-alikes.

This article will help you identify true ferns from other plants, so your cat can remain safe.

Are Ferns Toxic To Cats?

What Are Ferns?  

A fern is a type of vascular plant (one with xylem and phloem) that reproduces through spores rather than seeds or flowers.

Ferns vary from mosses and other bryophytes in that they are vascular, meaning they have specialized tissues that conduct water and nutrients, and they have branched sporophyte life cycles.

Megaphylls, the complex leaves of ferns, are more complex than the microphylls of clubmosses.

Leptosporangiate ferns make up the majority of ferns. Fiddleheads are produced that uncoil and develop into fronds.

There are around 10,560 known living species in this category. Ferns are defined as all members of the Polypodiopsidae family, which includes both leptosporangiate (Polypodiidae) and eusporangiate (Polypodiidae) ferns, which include horsetails, whisk ferns, marattioid ferns, and ophioglossoid ferns.

Ferns are not environmentally significant, but some varieties are used for food, medicine, biofertilizer, attractive plants, and soil remediation.

Their ability to remove some chemical contaminants from the atmosphere has been the topic of research.

Some fern species, such as bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and water fern (Azolla filiculoides), are considered weeds in many parts of the world.

Some fern taxa, such as Azolla, may fix nitrogen and contribute significantly to rice paddies’ nitrogen nutrition. In mythology, they also play a part.

Can Cats Eat Ferns?

Yes, cats can eat ‘True Ferns’.

Can Cats Eat Ferns?

You can’t go wrong with ferns for a refreshing burst of greenery.

The cascading fronds of this plant shine out whether kept indoors or outdoors.

They’re also relatively simple to maintain. But are these luxuriant plants safe for our feline family members? Is it true that ferns are harmful to cats?

The majority of ferns are safe for cats, according to the ASPCA.

Here’s where things get tricky: it’s difficult to tell the difference between “true ferns” and plants that look like ferns or have the term “fern” in their name. Many of these plants, unlike real ferns, represent a major threat to cats.

Fortunately, most real ferns are cat-friendly. Your curious kitty is unlikely to be injured if she helps herself to a small serving.

The following plants are deemed “true ferns” by the ASPCA and are generally safe for cats:

  • Boston fern
  • Sword fern
  • Button fern
  • Mother fern
  • Carrot fern
  • Maidenhair fern
  • Staghorn fern
  • Rabbit’s foot fern
  • Button fern
  • Bird’s nest fern

While these plants aren’t poisonous to cats, consuming large amounts of any plant might induce unpleasant side effects in cats.

Your cat will probably get an upset stomach if she consumes too much Boston fern, for example.

The symptoms of swallowing a real fern, on the other hand, are rarely severe enough to require medical treatment.

The issue here is that there is a lot of confusion about which plants are actual ferns and which ones just have the term “fern” in their name.

Unlike actual ferns, which are mostly harmless, some plants that look or sound like ferns can be harmful to cats.

The asparagus fern, which is very deadly to cats, is the most common example of this.

Although asparagus ferns are a popular houseplant, the ASPCA warns that they are toxic to cats.

If your cat eats the berries or the leaves of this wispy plant, it will experience vomiting, diarrhoea, and stomach ache. Skin irritation might develop as a result of frequent exposure.

Foxtail ferns, winter ferns, and hemlock ferns are other fern-like plants that are deadly to cats.

Are All Ferns Safe For Cats?

Yes, all ‘true ferns’ are safe for cats.

Are All Ferns Safe For Cats?

Plants that are classified as real ferns are generally safe to keep in a cat-friendly environment.

This isn’t to say that feeding them to your cat is a good idea.

It simply implies that they are not hazardous and are unlikely to cause lasting or serious harm to your kitty companion if he or she nibbles on them.

Boston, maidenhair, button, rabbit’s foot, bird’s nest, and staghorn are some of the most popular true ferns.

Eating these ferns may cause the kitten to have an upset stomach, diarrhoea, and moderate vomiting, but these symptoms are usually minor and do not require medical treatment.

Because it is such a popular houseplant, asparagus fern, also known as lace, emerald, or plumosa fern, requires special consideration.

It is considered harmful, unlike real ferns. It is only mildly toxic in most circumstances, but the berries can be poisonous.

If your cat consumes asparagus fern, he will most likely have stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

The fern can also irritate and burn the skin. If your cat thinks asparagus fern is a nice treat, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline for treatment advice.

Many plants that resemble ferns or have “fern” in their name are not genuine ferns. Many of these are poisonous to your cat.

Sprengeri fern, fern palm, and winter fern are among the most frequent. If your cat consumes any of these plants, contact the Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian.

Symptoms Of Fern Poisoning

Symptoms Of Fern Poisoning include: –

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Drooling

If your cat eats an asparagus fern, she may experience a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

Swelling, irritation, and blisters might occur if your cat accidentally brushes up against the plant’s leaves.

What To Do If Cat Has Ingested Fern?

If your cat has ingested fern in a small amount, you should not be worried. However, if your cat has ingested it in a large amount, you should visit a vet.

What To Do If Cat Has Ingested Fern?

If your cat has lately nibbled on a real fern plant, you can generally relax.

Consumption of genuine ferns is unlikely to harm your cat unless she indulges in a particularly greedy serving, and veterinary intervention is rarely required.

If your cat eats an asparagus fern, however, you should contact your veterinarian. Bring a sample of the plant to the clinic to test its toxicity if possible. A quick photo taken with your phone would suffice.

Your veterinarian may rinse your cat’s skin and/or mouth to eradicate all evidence of the plant when you bring her in.

Your veterinarian may also deliver intravenous fluids to treat dehydration caused by excessive vomiting or diarrhoea. Topical treatments with prescription strength can also help with skin irritation.

If your cat consumes any of the ferns listed below, seek medical attention as soon as possible from your local veterinarian or pet clinic.

In the event of an emergency outside of business hours, several veterinarians have emergency phone numbers.

  • Asparagus Fern (also known as lace, emerald, or plumosa fern)
  • Sprengeri Fern
  • Fern Palm
  • Sago Palm
  • Winter Fern

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, don’t hesitate to take him to the clinic. Kidney damage is a non-reversible adverse consequence of poisoning. While your cat may live, it may suffer from long-term health problems as a result of the poisoning.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has compiled a comprehensive list of plants, including ferns, that are both hazardous and non-toxic to kittens and cats.

You may not have access to veterinarian services if you reside in a very rural place, or you may have a long journey ahead of you.

The procedures below can be taken at home to lessen the consequences of the poisons consumed. Before heading to the vet, complete these things as rapidly as possible.

If you can’t get in touch with a veterinarian, an over-the-phone consultation may be your only alternative. It’s certainly better than nothing.

Freshwater should be used to clean your cat’s mouth.

It’s a positive sign if your cat has vomited because some of the toxins have been cleared. You should urge your cat to vomit if it hasn’t already.

What Happens If Cat Eats Poisonous Fern?

If your cat has eaten a poisonous fern the symptoms will vary from mild to severe, but most of the time the poisoning is treatable.

If your cat eats a fern, he or she may have a variety of reactions ranging from mild to severe.

If your cat eats the leaves of an Asparagus Fern, a common house plant, the leaves are somewhat toxic, but the berries can be deadly.

Stomach ache, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhoea are all likely symptoms for your cat. Your cat could be meowing loudly or seeming strangely calm.

Skin irritation and a burning feeling are also possible side effects of coming into contact with this plant.

If you suspect your cat has eaten a poisonous plant and it is displaying indications of distress, discomfort, or pain, you should seek advice and treatment from a competent veterinarian.

If you know exactly what plant your cat ate, you can take a sample to the vet to determine the source of the illness.

Cats who have eaten hazardous plants are frequently treated by veterinarians. It happens more frequently than you might think.

Most cases are minor or manageable, but every now and then, veterinarians are confronted with a tragic situation in which there is nothing they can do to save the cat.

How Long Does It Take For a Cat to Recover From Fern Poisoning?

With adequate treatment, the effects of fern poisoning will fade in 1 to 12 hours. It may take longer if your cat ate a huge amount of the fern.

In either case, the veterinarian may decide to keep him until he shows signs of improvement.

If your cat has had vomiting or diarrhoea, the veterinarian may recommend a food adjustment, at least temporarily, until you are able to take him home. A bland diet and small amounts of freshwater may be recommended.

After this form of poisoning, the veterinarian will give you precise recommendations on what your cat should consume.

Typically, the diet consists of moderate and soft carbohydrates that are easy to digest, such as rice, as well as a protein source that is easily digestible, such as chicken.

It’s critical to keep an eye on your cat at home to ensure he’s recovering well.

Please contact your vet if you notice any new symptoms or have any questions about the directions your veterinarian has given you regarding his care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to keep ferns in-home or garden?

Despite the fact that real ferns aren’t harmful to cats, the ASPCA advises cat owners to keep their pets away from all houseplants, regardless of toxicity. That’s not to mean you should get rid of every plant in your house or garden. It simply means that you must be strategic about where you place your plants. Fortunately, ferns thrive in hanging pots. Place hanging baskets throughout your space to provide vitality to a drab place, making sure the plants are always out of reach of your cat. A colorful fern can also be displayed on a high shelf, out of reach of prying paws. The simplest approach to ensure your cat doesn’t eat a deadly plant is to avoid bringing one into your home! Toxic plants, such as the asparagus fern, should be avoided in households with cats. Gardeners who cultivate asparagus ferns should use fencing or netting to keep outdoor cats safe.

Why do cats eat ferns?

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat animal protein to thrive. They can eat a variety of foods, but few of them will supply adequate nutrients. We know that cats will consume plats on occasion, but we don’t know why they do so. Although cats will eat some varieties of ferns, it is unlikely to supply many nutrients. It’s thought that they eat it to help with digestion. They may be able to aid facilitate intestinal transit by consuming fern because it physically unblocks their digestive tract. Vomiting is the most common symptom. It is one of the reasons a cat vomits, although there are many more.

Final Words

Although all ‘true ferns’ are non-toxic to cats, you should double-check before bringing one home.

Being a pet owner entails a significant amount of responsibilities. It is our responsibility to maintain our homes and gardens safe and free of hazardous plants that can harm our cats.

It’s advisable to avoid bringing something into your home if you’re not sure if it’s safe for your cat.

If you have any questions, ask us in the comments section.


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