Is a Bird of Paradise Toxic or Poisonous to Cats? Or Safe?

Bird of paradise is a great option for those who are looking for a statement plant. Their huge fan leaves add a tropical flare to any room. Though beautiful, this plant is considered toxic to pets.

The severity of the toxicity is dependent on the plant’s stage of development. The flower is considered the most poisonous part of the plant.

If you have a feline friend that is particularly fond of munching on new plants, it may be best to either select a different plant, or place your Bird of paradise somewhere inaccessible to the cat.

Which parts of the Bird of paradise are poisonous?

Both the leaves and flowers of this plant are considered toxic to cats when ingested. The flower, however, is considered the most toxic part of this plant. 

The flower

The flower of the Bird of paradise contains a toxic element called tanin, sometimes referred to as tannic acid. It protects the plant from any bacterial, or fungal infections, but will cause great harm to your feline friend if ingested.

Common side-effects include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and ocular discharge, together with malabsorption of protein.

The leaves

The leaves of the Bird of Paradise contain trace levels of hydrogen cyanide, but if your cat consumes large amounts, the acute fatal dose in cats is only 2 mg.

Common side effects include dilated pupils, drowsiness, bright red gums, nausea, and vomiting. In cases with a significant amount ingested, loss of consciousness may occur and could even prove fatal.

Will ingesting the Bird of paradise kill my cat?

Ingesting any amount of Bird of paradise will cause discomfort to your pet.

The toxicity level will depend on several factors, such as what part of the plant was consumed, how much your cat’s body weight is, and how long the toxins have been in your cat’s body.

The Bird of paradise is considered mildly toxic and could result in death if consumed in large amounts. If you believe your furry friend has taken a nibble on your Bird of paradise, seek medical help from a licensed veterinarian right away.

Symptoms of Bird of paradise poisoning in cats

Harsh chemicals found in both the leaves and flowers will irritate your cat’s GI. As the ingested plant material spreads through your cat’s digestive system, they will experience a variety of symptoms.

You may notice the following in your cat if they have ingested a portion of the plant:

If your cat is displaying any of these signs, it’s highly recommended that you call your local vet immediately.

What to do

Even if you don’t see your cat consume the plant, it is still recommended that you take them to a vet immediately at the first sign of possible poisoning.

Always keep information on your cat’s age, sex, breed and health history in a safe place for emergencies.

Bring along a piece of the ingested plant to the vet, even if you believe you are able to correctly identify the plant. Provide your vet with as much information regarding your cat’s symptoms as possible.

While it is unlikely your cat consumed a large amount, due to it causing irritation when ingested, do not wait for symptoms to go away.

Consult with a vet immediately. Do not ingest vomiting unless instructed to do so by a licensed veterinarian.

Diagnosis and treatment

Your veterinarian may perform various tests on your cat. This may include a physical exam, a blood test and possibly an endoscopy.

An endoscopy will allow your vet to see any damage the cat may have sustained to the digestive tract. Your vet may wish to keep your furry friend overnight to ensure all toxins have left the body.

If your cat’s heart is under a lot of stress, your vet may administer supportive cardiac medication.

Recovery

The recovery and duration of time it will take your cat to recover will depend on several factors, such as how much of the plant was ingested, which part, and how long before receiving medical attention.

Follow any instructions given to you by the vet. Reduce your cat’s activity as much as possible. This will allow them to conserve their energy and focus on healing.

You may also want to feed your cat in small portions as their stomach heals.

How to prevent your cat from eating your Bird of paradise?

Got a curious kitty? Prevention is better than cure when it comes to your precious fur friend. To avoid possible plant poisoning, ensure your cat does not have access to any poisonous plants.

Methods

Below are a few handy tricks and tips to keep your cat away from your Bird of paradise.

Out of reach

Reduce the possibility of your cat coming into contact with your bird of paradise.Due to its size, placing it somewhere high up probably won’t work. Where possible, place your Bird of paradise in a room that your cat does not have unsupervised access to.

Vinegar

Using a spray bottle, spray diluted or full-strength vinegar near your plant. You can wipe down the outside of your pot with vinegar or spray it on garden decor to keep your cat away. The strong smell will make your cat think twice about getting too close.

Pet-safe repellants

Pet safe repellents are available on the market, made specifically to deter your pet from any surface it is sprayed on. To find out about these, enquire at your local vet or pet shop.

Vicks Vaporub

Vicks vapor works as a great natural repellant. It’s made from camphor and eucalyptus oils, giving it a strong smell. You can smear a layer along the top of your pot as well as around the base of the plant. This should deter your pet from coming too close.

Citrus smells

You can place citrus peels on the inside of your pot to deter your pet from venturing too close.

Certain natural oils, specifically strong citrus ones, will be unpleasant for your cat’s nose and should keep them at bay. Always check the label to ensure they are non-toxic.

Avoid using black pepper, cayenne pepper, or cinnamon. These are toxic to your pet and may land you back at the vet.

Provide your cat with their own plant

If your kitty is as fond of plants as you are, perhaps consider placing a cat-friendly plant near their food and water bowl.

A great option is catnip. Catnip is meant to reduce stress and promote feelings of relaxation in cats. Catnip has the added bonus of repelling mosquitoes, flies, and other biting household bugs.

In conclusion

Certain houseplants can be very toxic to cats, and the Bird of paradise is no exception. Call your local vet right away if you suspect your cat has chewed or ingested any part of the plant.

Cat owners should consider swapping these plants out for a pet-friendly alternative if they cannot safely keep the two separate.