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Is My Rubber Plant Toxic To Cats?

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The milky sap known as latex released by a damaged a rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is poisonous to cats.

Plant latex contains several proteins which are intended to protect the plant from sustaining further damage by deterring the attacker, which in our case is a curious cat but could also be herbivores, insects or disease.

If any rubber plant material is ingested by your cat it might experience drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite.

Is it safe to keep rubber plants if I have a cat?

As home working arrangements become increasingly commonplace it’s easy to understand why more and more of us are sprucing up our home offices with houseplants and other natural artifacts. 

Remaining connected to nature has proven benefits, and is a relationship which can make home working tasks easier to manage.

A quick and easy solution to invite the natural world  into your home office is to pick up an indoor plant or two, or three, or….it’s addictive. 

Bringing new plants into the home however means they’ll be sharing the same space as existing residents such as pets. 

Cats are naturally curious and so are perhaps more susceptible than other pets to experiencing the negative effects of toxic houseplants such the rubber plant. This is especially true if your feline friend is young or just extremely inquisitive.

So what can we do? Is it even safe to keep rubber plants at all if I have a cat prowling about the house?

The best and easiest way to manage houseplants that pose a risk to cats, dogs or any other domestic pets for that matter is to keep them out of reach (on a shelf, at the back of a group of plants) or at least away from frequently visited areas (i.e. on the floor next to the water bowl).

Our own cat is now well over 15 years old and despite having a house full of plants (well, 75) including many that are poisonous to cats we’ve encountered no problems at all after creating that little bit of separation.

In fact managing toxic plants is something you’ll have be mindful of with many indoor plant species as it’s not simply rubber plants that are poisonous to cats but also several of the most common houseplants on the market. 

Houseplants that are toxic to cats include: 

  • Philodendrons
  • Diffenbachia
  • Monstera
  • Croton
  • Ivy
 A really helpful description of why many plants are poisonous to cats is contained in the opening 30 seconds of Garden Up’s video tutorial below. 

Note: The video doesn’t mention Rubber plants directly but I found it nonetheless in researching content for this article. 

Are any varieties of rubber plant safe for cats?

Bred from the Indian rubber tree there are quite a few rubber plant variants now popular as indoor plants, each with physiological differences such as more compact growth, larger leaf structures and of course differences in colors and patterns. 

This difference in appearance however doesn’t change the chemical properties of the latex and so all varieties of the rubber plant should be considered poisonous to cats. 

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