Toxic plants

Is Straight-Margined Dracaena Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
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Is Straight-Margined Dracaena Toxic to Cats

Straight margined dracaena is thought to be toxic, though this is occasionally disputed because no specific toxin has yet been identified. If a cat eats any portion of the plant, it may contain steroidal saponins or other alkaloids that can induce a bad reaction. It’s also possible that the plant matter is just indigestible to a cat and is excreted by the body as vomit or non its entirety through the intestines. Some cats may be more susceptible to whatever compounds are present in straight margined dracaena due to genetics. While the plant provides a minor risk, if your cat has access to a straight margined dracaena, you should exercise caution.

What is Straight-Margined Dracaena?


Straight margined dracaena is a subspecies of the common dracaena plant. It is categorized as a Dracaena marginata of the Asparagaceae plant family and is commonly known as the Madagascar dragon tree or red edge dracaena. Straight margined dracaena is a tree or shrub that grows up to 15 feet tall when planted in the ground and is native to Eastern Africa. Most of the southern United States can grow it in their gardens. It is most commonly seen as an indoor plant in its smaller size. Due to its tropical appearance and ease of maintenance, many people prefer straight margined dracaena. The plant has a woody stem that produces long, slender leaves that resemble palm fronds. The straight margined dracaena’s leaves have a reddish-purple edge and turn yellow before dropping off when new foliage grows.

Clinical Signs of Straight-Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Cats

If a cat eats straight margined dracaena, it may get mild symptoms with the potential for moderate sickness, though many cases may resolve without harm. Watch out for the following warning signs:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive drooling
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Staggering
  • Rapid heartbeat

First Aid and Treatment of Straight-Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Cats

If you see your cat eating a plant and aren’t sure what it is, bring a small cutting to the doctor to identify it. Giving your veterinarian your cat’s complete medical history will help with diagnosis and treatment.

If the cat is having trouble getting rid of straight margined dracaena leaves, the veterinarian may use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting until all stomach contents are gone.

The cat could become dehydrated after a prolonged period of vomiting. Intravenous fluids and electrolytes will need to be added if the situation has deteriorated sufficiently. During this procedure, the cat will have to be hospitalized.

 

Recovery from Straight-Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Cats


A cat that has eaten straight margined dracaena is likely to recover quickly within 24 hours after ingesting the plant. Symptoms should stop and no permanent damage should remain once all plant material has exited the cat. Straight margined dracaena eating has not resulted in any animal deaths. Whether the plant is toxic or just indigestible is still up for debate.

Prevention of Straight-Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Cats


Prevent your cat from being poisoned by keeping this plant out of your cat’s reach and regularly cleaning all fallen leaves. Some people prefer to get rid of plants that could harm their pets.  Keep your cat indoors if you’re living in a warmer area to keep them away from toxic plants growing in neighborhood gardens.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

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