One thing about cats that many pet owners find very adorable is their sense of curiosity. Most cats are curious about anything and anyone.
They will come and check out whatever is new by smelling, chewing and rubbing its scent on the object.
My cat will have to personally inspect all the grocery bags when I’m back from the supermarket.
Unfortunately, there are times when a cat’s curiosity can get the better of it. Many cats have gotten themselves in trouble by ingesting toxic plants and food without realizing it.
The plant that we will be looking at today is the yucca plant.
You should keep your cat away from your yucca plant as they are known to be toxic to cats. All parts of the plant when ingested can be poisonous to cats and most pets.
What Is The Yucca Plant?
The yucca plant is part of the yucca family consisting of more than 40 different types of plants and trees. There are a couple of plants in the yucca family that are grown as a household plant namely the yucca gigantea and the yuca aloifolia.
These plants are easily recognizable by their sword-like leaves and white flowers. The yucca plant (yucca spp) make for a good indoor ornamental plant due to their hardiness and exotic looking shape.
The only downside is that you need to be careful of your cat’s interaction with this type of plant.
What Makes The Yucca Plant Poisonous To Cats?
The yucca plant contains the compound called steroidal saponins and when ingested by cats can be toxic. Steroidal saponins help protect plants against microbes and fungi.
All parts of the plant contain this compound which makes it dangerous for pets. Toxicity symptoms include:
Most of the time, chewing or ingesting a small amount of the yucca plant will only result in minor side effects.
In some serious cases, the ingestion of steroidal saponins over the long term can lead to more serious health issues like seizures and even death.
Different Types Of Yucca Plants
There are usually two types of yucca plants that plant lovers tend to keep indoors. One is the yucca cane and the other is the Spanish bayonet or Spanish dagger.
The Yucca cane is the most popular indoor plant of the yucca plant family. It looks like a miniature tree with its bulbous trunk and sword-shaped leaves growing on the top. At some angles, it does resemble a coconut tree to some extent.
This species is rather similar to the yucca cane except for one major difference. The tip of its leaves is a lot sharper and firmer than the yucca cane hence its name.
Many unsuspecting victims have accidentally impaled themselves on the sharp tip of the leaves. When the sharp tip pierces through the skin, it will leave traces of saponin in the tissue that can cause irritation to the infected area for weeks.
This is one plant that you should seriously consider having at home. Not only is the plant poisonous to cats, but it can also blind them or your child.
Is Yucca Cane Dangerous To Cats?
Even though the yucca cane does not have sharp tips on its leaves like the Spanish dagger, every part of the plant still contains steroidal saponin that can have harmful effects on your cat.
How To Keep Toxic Plants Away From Cats?
This can be a rather challenging endeavor given how persistent and curious cats can be. A friend who is an avid gardener and cat owner recommends hanging such plants on the ceiling.
Make sure to hang the plant away from the window or shelf where the cat can climb to get to the plant.
Given that a yucca plant can grow to be quite tall after a few years, hanging it on the ceiling wouldn’t be such a good idea.
The next step would be to move it outdoors in a fenced up area where the cat can’t get to.
What Is The Difference Between Yucca And Yuca?
The only similarity between the yucca and yuca is that they are both plants. The names are not interchangeable as they are different plants altogether. The yuca is an edible tuber from the cassava plant that originates from Latin America.
A totally different plant from the yucca cane or any species from the yucca plant family.
Are Yucca Plant Leaves Poisonous?
Yes. Yucca plant leaves are poisonous to cats as they contain saponis. However, the yucca plant is also known for its health benefits and it is also sold as a supplement in the form of a purified extract. Do not eat the yucca plants raw as it can cause yucca toxicity even in humans.
Non-Toxic Alternative To The Yucca Cane
All is not lost if you are not able to keep yucca plants at home due to having pets. There are many other alternatives that you can keep as indoor plants which are safe for your cats.
- Baby rubber plant
- Boston fern
- Parlour palm
- Areca palm
- Spider plan
These are just a few non-toxic plants that are popular with pet owners. Before deciding on a plant to grow at home, it would be best to double-check if the plant is toxic to cats.
Why Do Cats Like To Chew On Plants
There are a number of reasons why some cats enjoy chewing on plants. For the record, cats don’t turn vegetarian overnight. They are pure meat eaters since the dawn of time and don’t need plant matter to survive.
So why do they still chew on plants?
For Health Reasons
Some cats will chew on plants for nutrients or to help them puke our hairballs or something toxic that they have eaten.
Cats don’t have the enzymes like dogs that can digest plant matter hence they tend to pass out plant matter when eaten.
A favorite plants for many cats are plants from the cat grass family like wheatgrass, barley grass and flaxseed grass.
The most common is wheatgrass for cats and you can even easily grow it at home.
Your Cat Likes To Chew
Chewing to some cats can be therapeutic. My cat isn’t a chewer but I have a friend whose cat chews more than her dog.
Chewing on plants to these cats is second nature and they enjoy doing it a few times a day. If your cat is a chewer, make sure you have some toys that it can bite on and make sure your plants are pet safe.
There is also a medical condition called PICA in cats that cause them to chew and ingest non-edible objects. This can be very dangerous when they start chewing and eating objects that are toxic.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PICA and it can only be managed by cat owners.
Having plants at home does help to brighten up the mood and scenery. But it is also important to not have any plants at home that can be toxic to cats.
If your cat has ingested any plant that is known to be toxic to cats, please bring it to the vet or call the pet poison helpline for help.
The sooner you seek medical treatment the better your cat has in making a full recovery.