As any cat lover knows, our feline friends are curious creatures. They like to explore their surroundings and often rub against things or scratch them as a way of investigating. Unfortunately, this can be a problem for pet parents, as many common household plants are toxic to cats.
I get it – I loved my cat (sadly, she’s no longer with me), and the last thing I wanted was for her to get sick from something in my house.
So let me address the main question right up front.
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Fiddle leaf figs can harm your cat. But on the plus side, fiddles are not highly poisonous. So even if your cat ingests a portion of the plant, it likely won’t be life-threatening.
So let’s take a deep dive into fiddle leaf fig toxicity. I’ll cover what to watch out for and what steps to take if your cat comes into contact with this beautiful but potentially dangerous plant. I’ll also provide tips on keeping your cat from nibbling or scratching our fiddle leaf fig.
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Is Fiddle Leaf Fig Toxic to Cats?
Cats and fiddle leaf figs (Ficus Lyrata) don’t mix. If your cat eats a fiddle leaf fig, she could get sick. Figs contain a thick white sap that can be harmful to cats (as well as other animals), especially when ingested or if it gets on the skin.
What Parts of the Fiddle Leaf Fig Are Poisonous?
Technically, all parts of the fig tree can cause problems. This includes leaves, stems, and even roots.
The reason is that the plant contains a substance called calcium oxalate crystals.
These crystals can irritate your pet’s mouth and digestive tract if the plant is chewed on or ingested. The crystals will also irritate their skin. And, of course, cats are constantly licking their skin, which means they could end up consuming the crystals that way.
Fortunately, the sap only seeps out if the plant is damaged or torn in some way. So if your cat just brushes against the plant, he shouldn’t have any problems. But if they chew on the leaves or branches, they could be exposed to the sap.
The sap can also be released if you are pruning or notching your fiddle. So be careful to keep your cat away in those instances (you should also wear gloves so that you don’t get the sap on your own skin).
What Are the Symptoms To Look Out For?
So what are the symptoms of fiddle leaf poisoning? If your cat ingests calcium oxalate crystals, she may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Oral irritation
- excessive drooling
- Pawing at the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing or eating
- Excessive thirst
- Irritation or redness of the skin, including skin rash or blistering
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on how much of the plant your cat has ingested.
If your cat ingests a large amount of the plant, he could experience more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, lethargy, and weakness.
If your cat has severe symptoms, it’s critical to take him to the vet right away.
What Should You Do if Your Cat Consumes Fig Sap
Start by examining your fig tree to see if you can determine how much sap your cat ingested. This will help your vet decide on a course of action.
Next, call your vet’s office as soon as possible. They will let you know what to do next, which may include bringing your cat in for an exam.
Personally, I wouldn’t treat my cat without a vet’s advice. Unfortunately, you may make the problem worse inadvertently.
You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline. The number is (888) 426-4435.
What Should I Do if My Cat Gets Sap on Its Skin?
If you can manage it, start by rinsing off the affected area with water. You can also try washing the area with a mild pet shampoo or dishwashing liquid (like Dawn).
However, I would still advise that you contact your vet as soon as possible. If the calcium oxalate crystals irritate your cat’s skin, she may injure herself by scratching too much.
Is Fiddle Leaf Fig Toxic to Dogs?
Yes, fiddle leaf figs can harm dogs, animals (and even humans). So if you have other indoor pets, make sure they can’t get to the plant.
As I mentioned above, the sap contains calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals can cause the same symptoms in any animal.
How To Keep Cats Away From Fiddle Leaf Fig
The best way to keep your cat and fiddle leaf fig tree apart is to make the plant inaccessible. This is easier to do with smaller plants that aren’t cat-safe than with large plants. You can’t exactly put a fig tree on a high shelf unless it’s very young.
But that doesn’t mean there are no options for keeping your cat away from your fiddle.
You can try putting the tree in another room your cat can’t access.
Another way to discourage your furry friend is by making the plant smell bad (to them).
Cats don’t like citrus smells. So you can mix lemon juice and water in a spray bottle and squirt it on the plant’s leaves. Or dab some lemon or orange essential oil on the pot rim with a cotton ball. I’ve even heard of people scattering citrus fruit peels over the soil, although I haven’t tried this myself.
If you don’t want to go the DIY route, you can purchase a cat training spray to apply to the plant leaves. This one has bitter, another smell cats don’t like.
This is a commercial spray containing bitters. It can be sprayed on plant leaves.
And FYI, don’t pour any of these substances into the soil. You might damage your fig tree.
And here’s a clever idea I found on Pinterest. Place some aluminum foil near the base of the plant – over the soil. Cats don’t like the sound the foil makes – or how it feels on their paws – when they walk on it. I think this is a great option for larger plants like fiddles.
You can also train your cat to stay away from the plant by spraying it with water. Cats don’t like getting wet, which may deter them from getting too close. Just be careful where you spray. You don’t want to get water on your furniture or flooring accidentally.
Finally, make sure your cat has plenty of other options for scratching and climbing. If Kitty doesn’t have anything else to scratch and climb, she’s more likely to go after your fiddle leaf fig tree. So provide her with a scratching post and some cat trees or perches.
More Common Houseplants That Aren’t Cat-Safe
Fiddle leaf figs are not the only plants that may cause problems for your feline friend. Several popular houseplants that are poisonous to cats include lilies, aloe vera, philodendrons, and snake plants.
Lilies are a particular problem for cats because they contain compounds that can cause kidney failure. Even a small amount of lily petals or leaves can be deadly to a cat. So if you keep lilies as indoor plants, make sure your cat can’t get to them.
Peace lily (although not a true lily) also has those pesky calcium oxalate crystals. So it can cause the same problems as a fiddle leaf fig tree.
Aloe vera is another plant that can be poisonous to cats. The sap contains compounds that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. So if your cat ingests aloe vera sap, she may get sick.
Philodendrons are another houseplant that can cause oral irritation ( i.e., to the mouth, tongue, and lips). If your cat nibbles on a philodendron leaf, she may start drooling. She may also have trouble swallowing.
Finally, snake plants are poisonous to cats. The sap contains compounds that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. So if your cat ingests any snake plant sap, she may get sick.
And for a more complete list of toxic plants, check out the ASPCA database. You can search by plant name or filter by plants that are toxic only to cats, dogs, or horses.
Not all plants are poisonous to cats. Fortunately, there are plenty of cat-safe houseplants that your feline friend can enjoy without any problems. A few cat-safe plants include spider plants, African violets, calathea, and rubber plants.
Spider plant is an excellent choice for households with cats. It’s easy to care for and not poisonous to cats.
African violets are another great choice for cat owners. These pretty plants are not poisonous to cats.
Calathea is a beautiful tropical plant that is safe for cats. They’re a little more finicky than some other plants on this list, but they’re well worth the effort.
Finally, rubber plants are an excellent choice for households with cats. They’re easy to care for and not poisonous to cats.
If you’re looking for a cat-safe plant for your home, any of these plants would be a great choice.
Fiddle leaf figs are beautiful, popular houseplants. But they can be harmful to cats. If your cat ingests any part of the plant, her lips and mouth will be irritated, and she may experience vomiting and diarrhea. And if she gets the sap on her skin, it can cause blisters and other skin irritation.
So if you already have a fiddle leaf fig, make sure your cat can’t get to it. Or train your cat to stay away.
Fiddle leaf fig plants are considered mildly toxic. This is because they contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause temporary illness if eaten. In addition, the sap can cause irritation and blistering if it comes into contact with their skin.
If you want to keep cats away from your plants, you can do a few things. You can place the plants in rooms that are inaccessible to your cat. You can also try using a spray repellent. Citrus and bitter scents are usually effective at deterring cats. Finally, you can train your cat to stay away from the plants.