Toxic plants

Is Octopus Tree Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Octopus Tree Toxic To Cats? 

The octopus tree is a decorative evergreen that produces saponins, which are natural chemicals produced by plants to deter fungi and insects, however, they are mildly toxic to small animals. It also gives the plant a bitter flavor, making it unpalatable to cats. The octopus tree also contains insoluble oxalates and terpenoids, which are known to irritate cats’ digestive systems. Felines that consume octopus tree foliage are easily treated, and fatalities from this type of toxicity are pretty uncommon.

What Is An Octopus Tree?

Schefflera with a cat in the background

The octopus tree is an evergreen tree in the Araliaceae plant family that is also known as the umbrella tree, Australian ivy palm, StarLeaf, and Schefflera. Octopus trees can reach a height of 40 feet and can be single or multi-stemmed. The broad green leaves are palm-like and ovate, measuring 12 inches long. In late summer to early fall, red flowers bloom on the ends of stems. The octopus tree bears dark purple round fruit that is about 1/4 inch in diameter.

The octopus tree is native to Australia but is now widely cultivated in other regions as an ornamental. Octopus trees can tolerate a wide range of sun and moisture levels but are restricted to areas with minimum temperatures above 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 degrees Celsius).

Clinical Signs of Octopus Tree Poisoning in Cats

Schefflera tree and cats

In cats, stomach discomfort is the most prevalent indication of octopus tree toxicity; however, other signs have been reported in certain cases. Cat owners should note the symptoms that their cats may experience after eating a part of the octopus tree.

  • Ataxia 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Vomiting 

First Aid and Treatment of Octopus Tree Poisoning in Cats

Cat hisses at Schafflera

The treatment for octopus tree poisoning in cats is to remove the plant from the feline’s body to avoid additional ingestion and to get rid of the toxins.  To urge the feline to vomit and remove undigested octopus tree material from the cat’s upper digestive system, an emetic medicine will most likely be given by the veterinarian. If your cat has not vomited, the veterinarian may provide activated charcoal to bind with the harmful substance and prevent further absorption of the plant compounds by the body.

Medications such as Kapectolin and Sucralfate may be given to your cat as needed. Other medications may also be prescribed depending on the condition. 

Recovery from Octopus Tree Poisoning in Cats

The outlook for cats poisoned by octopus trees is often good to excellent. Most cats will start to improve after an hour of treatment and will recover completely within 24 hours. The sooner the cat received treatment, the higher the chances of recovery.

Prevention of Octopus Tree Poisoning in Cats

It’s a good idea to get to know the plants that thrive in your yard and area. Investigate the plants that are poisonous to cats as a cat owner. It’s also safer to keep your cats indoors so they don’t come into contact with harmful plants outside.

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

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