Toxic plants

Is Alocasia (Elephant's Ear) Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is alocasia toxic or non-toxic for cats?

Alocasia or more commonly known as the elephant’s ear is toxic to plants. This plant contains insoluble oxalate crystals that will penetrate the oral mucosa and pharynx once chewed. This will result in intense pain and burning, and sometimes even cause swelling of the airway which will trigger difficulty in breathing.

What Is An Elephant’s Ear?

Elephant’s Ear and a cat nearby

Elephant’s ear is also known for its botanical name, alocasia spp. This plant is part of the Araceae family. It is a perennial, herbaceous rhizome plant that grows around one to five meters and all parts of this plant are known to be toxic to cats and other animals. It produces a toxic principle of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals as natural protection from herbivores. When ingested, toxicity may cause mild to moderate symptoms.

Elephant’s ear is widely grown in eastern Australia and subtropical countries in Asia. It is a popular house plant because it is easy to maintain and it also makes a good outdoor piece especially in countries with warmer climates. This plant is noticeable as it has large arrow-shaped leaves and distinct veins.

Indirect, bright light and gritty loam soil are ideal growing conditions for elephants’ ears. These moisture-loving plants prefer to be kept moist but do not tolerate standing water.

Clinical Signs Of Elephant Ear Poisoning In Cats

elephant's ear plant and cats

Common signs to watch out your cats for usually involve severe burning and pain with manifestations of the following:

  • Oral pain
  • Acute burning
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at face or mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of mouth, tongue, and lips
  • Unable to swallow
  • Difficulty in breathing

Indications of elephant’s ear ingestion may look severe and critical but most cases are mild and can be treated accordingly.

First Aid And Treatment

Elephant’s Ear plant with a cat trying to sniff it

Any remaining residue of the plant must be flushed out from the mouth of your cat. Once removed, offer milk, yogurt or any source of calcium as this will dissolve some of the calcium oxalate crystals thus, will help in easing the pain. Should your cat show any signs of swelling and difficulty in breathing, call your veterinarian for proper treatment.

Symptomatic veterinary treatment may include removing the plant from the mouth, medications to reduce vomiting, hydration therapy, painkillers, and, in rare situations, managing airway blockages. The veterinarian might keep your cat under observation in the veterinary office once your cat’s airway is blocked due to swelling.

Recovery of Elephant’s Ear Poisoning in Cats

In most cases, cats who have severe symptoms from ingesting an elephant’s ear experience sickness that may last up to two weeks. Nonetheless, most of the severe symptoms normally pass within 24 hours.


To prevent your cat from accidentally ingesting alocasia or elephant’s ears, the best and only way is to avoid growing this plant in your homes. Kittens are more prone to swallowing alocasia as they are curious by nature.

It is also important to be familiar with the physical appearance of an elephant’s ear so you can be more aware of this plant growing around your area. If your neighbor has an elephant’s ear, better be cautious and let your cat stay indoors as much as possible.

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

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