Toxic plants

Are Lace Ferns Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Lace Fern Toxic To Cats? 

Lace fern is an evergreen perennial that is commonly used as a filler plant in flower arrangements, however, it is toxic to cats and should be avoided. Sapogenins found in lace ferns irritate cats’ skin and gastrointestinal tract when they come into contact with them. Skin irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur if your cat gets into touch with a lace fern plant.

While lace fern poisoning in cats is not life-threatening, if your cat has come into contact with one, you should accompany him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. A veterinarian can help your cat recover from lace fern poisoning and ensure that all toxins have been removed from his system.

What Is Lace Fern?

Racemose Asparagus and a cat nearby

Scientifically known as asparagus densiflorus, the lace fern plant is endemic throughout southern Africa, from Mozambique to South Africa, commonly growing in savanna thickets. This member of the Asparagaceae plant family is now commonly grown as an ornamental plant all over the world, but it is also classified as an invasive plant in some regions, such as the United States and Australia.

In light and sandy soils, the lace fern plant produces dense prickly mats up to two meters high, inhibiting other ground flora and depleting the soil of essential nutrients and moisture. It can swiftly colonize disturbed locations in the open sun or partial shade, posing a danger to coastal habitats, riverbanks, and low-fertility soils.

Clinical Signs of Lace Fern Poisoning in Cats

Racemose Asparagus and cats

Lace fern poisoning happens when your cat comes into contact with a lace fern plant or eats the plant’s berries. Sapogenins, which are poisonous to cats and can cause acute irritation and gastrointestinal discomfort, are found in the highest quantity in the berries. The following are some of the lace fern poisoning symptoms that your cat may show:

First Aid and Treatment of Lace Fern Poisoning in Cats

Racemose Asparagus with a cat in the background

The treatment given to your cat will be determined by the symptoms that your cat is showing. If your cat’s poisoning has just caused skin irritation, the vet may prescribe a topical corticosteroid to alleviate the swelling and itching.

Treatment will be different if your cat has eaten the lace fern plant. The vet may choose to use a hydrogen peroxide solution to induce vomiting in your cat, which can be given to him orally, or perform gastric lavage, also known as a stomach wash.  The vet will most likely prescribe activated charcoal to absorb any lingering poisons in your cat’s gut once all of the lace fern plants have been removed from his stomach. The vet can give your cat either Kapectolin or sucralfate, which produces a thick paste that coats the stomach lining and prevents additional discomfort and vomiting.

Recovery from Lace Fern Poisoning in Cats

Within 24 hours, most cats will begin to recover from lace fern poisoning. To help with the skin irritation, your veterinarian may prescribe a corticosteroid that you can use topically or give orally to your cat. Your veterinarian may also advise you to convert your cat to softer meals that are less harsh on the stomach. This is needed to allow your cat’s body to heal after being induced to vomit and having a gastric lavage. If your cat’s condition worsens following therapy, set an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

Prevention of Lace Fern Poisoning in Cats

The lace fern plant should be removed from your home or yard if you have one. If you suspect your cat came into contact with it in someone else’s yard, keep your cat indoors as much as necessary to limit additional exposure.

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

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