Zamioculas zamiifolia, also known as the ZZ plant, is a must-have for indoor gardeners. Its beautiful green leaves may be found in the bulk of Instagram images exhibiting houseplant collections. The ZZ plant, which is native to Africa, is simple to care for. It is drought tolerant and thrives under low light settings.

Despite the fact that they have been around for a long time, ZZ plants became popular in the 1990s when Dutch nurseries began producing the plant on a wider scale. Gardening lovers instantly fell in love with this lovely plant, and it can now be found practically anywhere on the planet.

However, is ZZ plant toxic to cats?

Yes, ZZ plant is mildly toxic to cats if ingested directly. Minor skin and eye discomfort can also result from exposure to the plant. The calcium oxalate crystals in the sap are responsible for the plant’s toxicity. The undesirable symptoms connected with this plant are caused by these incredibly small and pointy crystals.

This article will talk about why ZZ plants are toxic to cats and how can both cats and ZZ plants co-exist.

ZZ Plant Toxic To Cats

What is ZZ Plant?

Zamioculcas zamiifolia, commonly known as the ZZ plant, is a low-maintenance houseplant that contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause discomfort in animals, especially cats.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia, also known as ZZ plant, Zuzu plant, emerald palm, or eternity plant, is an easy-to-grow houseplant that spreads 2 to 3 feet in width and height when mature.

Plants require little care and are drought tolerant. They have glossy green foliage and rarely blossom. When they bloom, white blossoms around an erect stalk.

These perennials, hardy in USDA zones 9 and 10, are members of the Araceae family and propagate by division or leaf cuttings.

Because it is so simple to care for, the ZZ plant is widely employed in commercial settings, according to the North Carolina State Extension Gardener.

Plants may live without water for up to two months and can be maintained in the same way as other low-maintenance succulents and cacti that withstand indirect and low light.

In fact, even if the only light source is an overhead fluorescent fixture, the ZZ plant will grow. The plant is not prone to disease or insect attack. Zamioculcas zamiifolia can be cultivated in a container outside as long as temperatures dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is ZZ Plant Poisonous To Cats?

Yes, ZZ plant is mildly poisonous to cats.

Is ZZ Plant poisonous To Cats?

In a nutshell, the answer is yes. The ZZ plant is toxic to both cats and humans.

It will not, however, do major harm to you or your cats. The majority of what you may have heard about the plant is exaggerated.

A notion that ZZ plants cause cancer began to circulate in the 2010s, although that information is equally incorrect.

Although the ZZ plant is not deadly, you should exercise caution when in its vicinity.

The sap can irritate the skin, resulting in a rash. If one of your cats eats a ZZ plant, it will have digestive issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

All of this does not preclude you from having a ZZ plant in your home.

You may enjoy the green leaves of this plant securely if you learn a few things about how to care for it.

Because it contains calcium oxalate, the ZZ plant, like the Fiddle Leaf Fig and the Monstera plant, can cause severe reactions in cats, dogs, and even humans.

These crystals are tiny. The sharp needles of the crystals are what generate the burning sensation when the sap is swallowed or applied to bare skin.

Our pets and our own skin and mucous membranes are sensitive to calcium oxalate, which is what causes these irritations.

If our rambunctious felines mistake the ZZ plant for their favorite wand toy, they may get mucus membrane, skin, and eye inflammation.

According to Dr. Leonard Perry of the University of Vermont, ZZ plants contain calcium oxalate crystals, the same substances that cause kidney stones in people.

When the sharp, microscopic crystals are eaten, they induce discomfort and swelling in the mouth and throat. Typically, children are turned off by the pain, which is comparable to chewing glass, and will refuse to eat it.

The needle-like crystals embedded in the mouth of cats, producing vomiting, hypersalivation, or drooling, and, in some cases, enlargement of the pharynx.

According to Dr. Tina A. Wismer of the ASPCA Animal Poison Center, obstruction of the throat in cats is uncommon, and most cases of poisoning recover within 24 hours.

If possible, clean the cat’s mouth with water or milk, but if the situation appears serious, contact a veterinarian. Keep oxalate crystal-containing houseplants such as philodendron (Philodendron spp.), dumb cane (Dieffenbachia spp.), and peace lilies (Spathiphyllum spp.) out of reach of cats. When pruning the plant, pick up any fallen leaves and discard any clippings.

Why Is The ZZ Plant Poisonous?

ZZ plant is poisonous because it contains calcium oxalate.

Why Is The ZZ Plant Poisonous?

Calcium oxalate is found in ZZ plants. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the substance that kidney stones are formed of.

Even though we can’t see it without a microscope, calcium oxalate is highly sharp.

Unfortunately, this chemical is found in all parts of the plant. It includes things like roots, seeds, and leaves.

When a ZZ plant gets into contact with the skin of your cat, it can cause irritation and burning.

You should wash it out as soon as possible and avoid touching your eyes. It will have the same effect on mucous membranes.

If a cat eats any part of a ZZ plant, it will experience discomfort and swelling in its mouth. The discomfort will cause a kitten to spit out the plant.

An adult cat, on the other hand, will endure stomachache, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea if a piece of the plant is swallowed. The severity is determined by the amount of plant consumed. The symptoms often last a few hours and are mild.

Your cat will react similarly to the calcium oxalate. They will receive skin or eye discomfort if they brush up against the plant.

Furthermore, if your cat consumes a ZZ plant, it will immediately suffer food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.

The sap of this plant, like that of other Araceae relatives, includes calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are naturally produced by the plant as a sort of defense against predators and to regulate calcium in plant tissue. Calcium oxalate crystals are exceedingly tiny and pointy.

When the sap is ingested or exposed to bare skin, these sharp crystals create burning feelings. This is a useful trait to have in the wild since any animal that comes across the ZZ plant and thinks it’s a nice lunch will swiftly learn its lesson in one bite.

When touched, the sharp edges of these crystals penetrate the outer layer of the skin and create inflammation. When the skin’s membrane is ruptured, the body’s immune system goes into overdrive, causing the skin to turn red or develop a rash. These crystals can also enter the skin lining the lips in the same way, causing a burning feeling.

Toxins are not absorbed into the bloodstream when swallowed or inside our cats’ bodies. Instead, when they pass through your cat’s system, they cause damage to the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract and penetrate the membranes of cells. This causes stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Some may wonder why someone would bother keeping a ZZ plant given the possible dangers it poses to humans and cats.

Even with these concerns, plant owners like this plant for a variety of reasons, and the benefits of the ZZ plant outweigh the minor risk of toxic exposure for many people.

There is no shortage of tempting attributes that this plant has to offer, from its low-demanding requirements to its ability to purify the air.

Symptoms Of ZZ Plant Poisoning In Cats?

Symptoms of ZZ plant poisoning in cats are: –

  • Sharp mouth pain
  • Burning sensation of the mouth and throat
  • Swelling of the mouth and throat
  • Temporary hoarseness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

These symptoms will manifest in cats within two hours of eating the ZZ plant, and most will recover within 24 hours. It’s critical to know how to manage these symptoms if you detect them in yourself, your loved ones, or your pets.

Exposure to the ZZ plant is unlikely to result in any serious conditions, but it can cause discomfort. As a result, it is best to resolve the matter as soon as possible in order to minimize the negative reactions to a minimal.

If your cat begins to exhibit symptoms of ZZ plant exposure, you should:

  • Remove any plant material still in their mouth.
  • Encourage them to drink water.

Drinking water will assist your cat keep hydrated if they have eaten enough of the plant to upset their stomach and induce vomiting or diarrhea.

Keep a check on them for the first few hours after recognizing their symptoms to ensure their condition is improving.

If you have a cat who appreciates ice cubes or other pet-safe frozen treats, now is a great time to give them a cool treat.

The ice will assist to relax their mouth, minimize swelling, and alleviate any burning sensations. Plus, they’ve had a long day and deserve a treat!

Can You Keep ZZ Plant Around Cats?

Yes, you can keep ZZ plants around cats but you must take precautions.

Can You Keep ZZ Plant Around Cats?

Nothing prevents you from bringing a ZZ plant into your home. It will not cause you any severe harm, but there are a few regulations you should follow, especially if you have cats with you.

So make sure you choose a good location for your plant. Find a high, inaccessible shelf or hang the planter from the ceiling. There are numerous alternatives to choose from.

Of course, you may also put coffee or orange peels near the planter to deter your cat from approaching it.

These are popular pet repellents that should suffice. If none of these work, try vinegar.

The ZZ plant will not make your room smell nice, but it will keep your cat or dog away from it.

Remind yourself to use gloves whenever you handle the plant. Standard gardening gloves will suffice.

They should be washed after each use. The same is true for any tools you intend to use. Because the sap will remain on them, it is critical to clean your gardening scissors or anything else that has come into touch with the plant. It reduces the likelihood of coming into touch with calcium oxalate and prevents skin rashes.

How To Maintain ZZ Plant?

Maintaining ZZ plant is fairly easy, just make sure you use well-draining potting soil, and your ZZ plant will thrive on its own.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s speak about how to care for your ZZ plant. This plant resembles miniature trees, with many upward-growing stems.

The leaves are medium in size, meaty, and green in color. ZZ plants prefer typical humidity, but consider boosting it if artificial heating is used.

This plant does not necessitate a lot of time or effort, making it ideal for novices. A ZZ plant is an excellent choice if you want lush and green foliage in your living room but occasionally forget to water the plants. Your ZZ plant will survive on its own if you use well-draining potting soil.

There is no watering schedule in place. Wait until the soil is dry before applying water. If you want to offer your ZZ plant more nutrition, you can fertilize it once a month. Remember to only fertilize in the summer. Because the plant dislikes direct sunshine, keep it in full or partial shade.

Your ZZ plant may surprise you if put in indirect sunlight. It occasionally blooms in the summer or fall. The flowers, on the other hand, are little and grow in the lowest regions of the stalks. They are frequently hidden beneath the leaves, so you may not notice them immediately away.

This plant is resistant to a wide range of diseases and pests. Overwatering may be a problem, so keep an eye out for any changes in the color of the foliage.

Stop watering your ZZ plant immediately if it has yellow leaves that are dropping off. Furthermore, aphids are drawn to the deadly sap and may infest your plant.

These pests may be nearly undetectable, so inspect the entire plant if you notice unusual patches on the leaves.

Pruning ZZ plants are typically unnecessary. Simply remove the dry leaves, and you’re done. Of course, if the branches are obstructing your vision, feel free to prune them.

Another great technique is to dust off the leaves on a regular basis. It is critical to keep the plant clean because it aids in photosynthesis.

The rhizomes that allow a ZZ plant to exist for so long without water also make propagation easier. Simply split the rhizomes and place them in a smaller pot.

Cuttings can also be used to propagate the ZZ plant. Take a mature stem with at least a few leaves. Then immerse a cutting in water. The roots should appear soon.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to keep cats away from ZZ plant?

For individuals who have cats, it is critical to choose a suitable location for your ZZ plant that is out of reach of them. For example, on a shelf, table (depending on the height), hanging from the ceiling, or any other location in your home where your children and cats cannot reach. Not all pets, however, remain on the ground. In the instance of famously curious cats who appear to feel no spot is off-limits, you can employ a variety of deterrents to keep them at distance. For example, sprinkle cayenne pepper near the plant’s base, leave citrus rinds around the plant, or mist lemon juice onto the foliage. Unfortunately, if you have a stubborn pet who regularly consumes plants, this may not be the plant for you.

Why is ZZ plant popular?

The ZZ Plant is an easygoing African native, a semi-succulent plant that is drought-hardy and has medium toxicity. With water, the plant can live for months. This lovely plant with glossy green foliage thrives in the low lighting and dry air conditions seen in many indoor settings. Regardless of the toxicity levels, nurseries in Holland began producing and marketing them internationally in the 1990s. Because of their wonderful, carefree disposition as indoor plants, they immediately became highly popular. They work as well at home and in the office.

What are the alternatives of ZZ plant?

If you want to ensure your cat’s safety, you could get rid of your ZZ Plant and replace it with a non-toxic option. However, make sure to complete your homework before purchasing any plants, or you may end up with another plant that is toxic to cats! Spider plants are one of the most popular houseplants. Are our spider plants poisonous to cats? No, Spider Plants are perfectly safe for cats and are one of the greatest options for pet parents. Spider Plants are very simple to care for, making them an excellent choice for beginning gardeners. Ferns are another popular houseplant that, in addition to forming lovely hanging plants, is reasonably easy to grow and care for. However, whether or not a fern is safe for cats depends on the fern in question.

Final Words

ZZ plants are without a doubt one of the best choices for a houseplant, particularly if you are just starting off with your collection. ZZ plants not only look great in any setting, but they also help to filter the air.

Even though ZZ plants may go months without water, establishing a watering routine will help them grow faster. But, at the end of the day, there’s no need to feel awful if you forget about your ZZ plant from time to time.

They are tough and thrive on neglect. ZZ plants can grow in any soil, don’t require fertilizer, and like indirect sunshine. When consumed, they are indeed poisonous. If any portion of the plant is unintentionally consumed, it can cause stomach issues and vomiting. So, if you want to keep little cats safe, keep your ZZ plant out of reach of their tiny paws.

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


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