The string of plants is a cascading succulent with cinnamon-scented flowers and pearl-shaped leaves. It’s a popular houseplant since it grows fast (indoors or outdoors) and is easy to propagate. When well-maintained, a string of pearls can reach a height of 3 feet.
There are increasing concerns amongst pet owners regarding the toxicity of this succulent. As a cat owner, it’s important to know the symptoms your cat can exhibit after consuming this plant.
Here’s everything a pet owner should know about the toxicity of the string of pearls.
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Table of Contents
The string of pearls is a highly toxic plant to cats. Its toxic principles are pyrrolizidine alkaloids and an irritant sap, which mainly affect the liver. Your cat may suffer liver failure when it consumes the succulent in large quantities.
The University of California classifies the string of pearls under two of its toxicity classes for plants (2 and 4).
Under toxicity class 2, the plant causes minor illnesses like diarrhea and vomiting when ingested. Consequently, the plant’s sap or juice may cause irritation or skin rash under toxicity class 4. The rashes tend to be painful and severe.
Signs and Symptoms of the Toxicity
Cats are very picky when it comes to their eating habits. Your cat is unlikely to eat or chew a large volume of the string of pearls needed for it to develop liver failure.
When your cat gets into contact with the plant’s sap or juice, it may develop mild rash and skin irritation. When ingested, the succulent causes diarrhea and vomiting.
The symptoms will develop depending on the length of exposure. Since the plant’s toxicity is cumulative, the signs are more life-threatening once you notice them.
The toxic chemical will build up in your cat’s system within a short time and result in complications. However, severe symptoms will only show when your cat consumes a high enough dose:
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Carry a sample of the string of pearls succulent with you to your veterinarian’s office for further diagnosis. Expect the veterinarian to conduct a physical exam on the cat to assess the extent of toxicity.
The exam will test for oxygen levels, reflexes, weight, body temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, breath sounds, heart rate, and overall condition.
Give detailed information about the incident to the veterinarian while focusing on the succulent and how much your cat ate. You should also tell them about your cat’s appetite changes, unusual behavior, vaccination records, and health history (if there are any).
The veterinarian will carry out laboratory tests to evaluate the toxicity level in your cat’s blood and body fluids. Further treatment will follow depending on the results of the lab tests.
Your cat’s risk of liver toxicity will remain low provided it doesn’t ingest large volumes of the succulent over a long time.
If your pet has an obsession with non-food objects (including string of pearls), placing the objects far from the pet’s reach may help reduce poisoning. You should also keep your kittens away from the plant.
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Can You Train Your Cat to Avoid Eating Succulents?
Since cats are extremely sensitive to smell, you can make your plants’ scent unappetizing to keep them from eating. You can throw a lemon peel on the potting soil to keep the pet away.
Sprinkling cayenne pepper around the succulent may also work. Once your cat sniffs the plant, it will back off and never return to the plant for good.
You can also place your succulents (including the string of pearls) in the most off-limits part of your house. Locations such as sunrooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms may be ideal for this strategic positioning.
Placing the plants at a height that your cat can’t reach may also work. For instance, you may hang them in baskets attached to the ceiling.
A veterinarian may recommend nutritional supplements in case your cat lacks some essential nutrients. Your cat’s tendency to eat houseplants may be a symptom of a gastrointestinal condition. Feed your pet the supplements as required to curb this behavior.
Read more: Common Problems with String of Pearls Plant
What Succulents are Toxic to Cats?
Succulent plants are increasingly popular as houseplants since they are easy to grow and maintain. They have thick, fleshy leaves and can adapt to different climatic conditions.
When growing them indoors, it’s important to identify the types that are toxic to pets. Examples of poisonous succulents include burro’s trail, haworthia, jade, euphorbia, kalanchoe, and aloe vera.
Are String of Pearls Succulents Poisonous?
The string of pearls is poisonous to both humans and pets. In humans, ingestion of the succulent may result in minor illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting. Physical contact with the succulent’s sap or juice may cause rash or irritation.
In pets such as dogs and cats, symptoms of string of pearls poisoning include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling.
Are String of Dolphins Toxic to Cats?
Since the string of dolphins is toxic to dogs and cats, you should keep your pets away from the plant. However, the plant’s toxicity may get severe when your cat consumes it in large quantities.
Signs and symptoms of strings of dolphins toxicity include liver failure, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
What are the Most Toxic Plants for Cats?
Mildly poisonous plants to cats include aloe plants, snake and ficus plants, peace lily, philodendron, dieffenbachia, and pothos.
Moderately toxic ones include euphorbia, Norfolk pine, holly shrubs, azalea and rhododendrons, and ivy. Severely toxic plants to cats include skunk cabbage plant, mistletoe, oleander, sago palm, hydrangea shrubs, and Lilly varieties (excluding calla Lilly and peace Lilly).
Read more: How to Repot String of Pearls
Is String of Pearls Toxic to Pets?
The string of pearls is a highly toxic plant to cats and dogs. Training your pet on how to avoid consuming this succulent may work.
You can also keep the plant out of your cat or dog’s reach for safety. The toxicity will only get severe when your pet consumes large amounts of the string of pearls plant.
Will Succulents Kill Cats?
Your cat is unlikely to die from poisoning when it ingests a succulent plant. That’s because most succulents are harmless to pets. Furthermore, cats instinctively avoid consuming succulents of any kind.
However, when your cat consumes large portions of the plants, it may suffer liver failure, a life-threatening condition.