How Dangerous Are Fig Plants To Cats?

Fig trees are classified under the genus of ‘Ficus’ that belongs to the Moraceae Mulberry family). Collectively they are all commonly known as fig trees or figs. They are mostly native throughout the tropical regions, with some species that extend to the semi-temperate zones of the world.

Common Fig plants, Fig Fruits, and Cats

Common Fig plants (Scientific name: Ficus carica), also known as Ficus, is a flowering plant of the mulberry family. Its edible fruit is commonly known as fig. The plant is indigenous to Asia and usually grows from India’s northern parts from the Asiatic Turkey area. It has been cultivated for more than a millennium and mostly grows in warm climates. Fig plants are excellent indoor and outdoor ornamental plants that are very popular throughout the world.

Is Fig Plant (Common Fig and Weeping Fig) Cat safe?

  • Toxicity Levels for Cats: Toxic
  • Toxicity levels for kittens: Highly Toxic

Although the common fig plants are safe for humans, the fig fruit, leaves, and the sap from the figs or its trees are toxic and irritating to cats. The toxicity differs from cat to cat depending on its age, breed, etc.. Still, the toxicity levels are usually low to moderate.

Cats, in general, are very curious by nature. As mentioned before, fig plants are beautiful to look at and have long & glossy green leaves that sway due to the slightest of winds. The fiddling nature in cats finds the swaying of the leaves visually captivating, which in turn tempts them to play and bite at leaves. This risks your cat with accidental ingestion of the sap from the fig tree.

Symptoms: Common Fig tree and Weeping Fig poisoning in Cats?

In cats, fig poisoning is usually from mild to moderate. However, there are instances when the toxicity could be extreme. Few of the cat fig poisoning symptoms include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • An increase in watering and drooling from the cat’s mouth
  • Constant shaking of the head
  • Skin irritation and conditions such as open and weeping sores or, in extreme cases, dermatitis

Causes: Common Fig and Weeping fig poisoning in Cats

  • Toxic Principles: Proteolytic enzyme (ficin), psoralen (ficusin)

The toxic substance in most fig plants, including the Common fig and Weeping fig tree, is ficin and ficusin. These can attack the DNA of your cats, causing health-hazardous reactions that induce complications such as diarrhea, vomiting, swelling in the GI tract, and upper respiratory pathway.

Suppose you suspect that your cat had come in contact with the fig plant or, worse, ingested any part of the plant such as the leaves, sap, or fruit. In that case, it is best that you immediately visit your cat’s veterinarian. This will drastically improve your cat’s recovery rate from exposure to the toxicities.

Fiddle-leaf fig plants and Cats

Fiddle-leaf fig plants (Scientific Name: Ficus lyrata) plants are the most trendy and constantly favored plants among houseplant lovers for the past decade. The exotic plant adds elegant sophistication to contemporary, niche and, modern design homes.

They not only stand out from other in-house decorative plants in your space but also dominate the other décor, such as the furniture, objects, etc. with their unique larger-than-life statement. You will definitely fall in love with its lush, bold, and absolutely gorgeous vibrant green colored leaves and foliage.

It is originally native to the tropical rainforest in western Africa, where the plant thrives in dense, warm, wet, and humid surroundings. Even though it is slightly harder to maintain than other types of plants, the fiddle-leaf figs are worth the trouble. They need ample water and sunlight to grow and flourish. The best place to keep them in your home is near a large window, wide guest rooms, or out in the garden.

Is Fiddle-leaf fig plant Cat safe?

  • Toxicity Levels for Cats: Mild to Toxic
  • Toxicity levels for kittens: Highly Toxic

Fiddle-leaf fig plant and common fig plants have different characteristics. While the fruit of the common fig can be eaten, fiddle-leaf figs are poisonous even for human consumption. A fact to consider is that fiddle-leaf plants do not bear fruits or even flowers when placed in-doors.

As a cat owner, it is best recommended to avoid the fiddle-leaf plants in or outside your homes. And if you have kittens, it is a strict ‘No.’

The fiddle-leaf fig’ leaves cause mild toxicity in cats, most felines immediately experiencing a burning sensation due to the needle-like crystals (raphides) that it contains. Your cats or kittens may display obvious signs such as mouth irritation, followed by vomiting and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms: Fiddle-leaf Fig poisoning in Cats

In most cats, fiddle-fig leaf poisoning is usually from mild to moderate. There are many instances, however, where the poisoning could be extreme – especially for kittens. Few of the fiddle-leaf fig poisoning symptoms in cats include:

  • Drooling profusely
  • Foam at mouth
  • Constant Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of face, lips, and tongue of the feline
  • Swelling in the upper airways that causes difficulty in breathing
  • Constant shaking of the head
  • Skin irritation

Causes: Fiddle-leaf Fig poisoning in Cats

  • Toxic Principles: Raphides

Your cat or kitten can become poisoned by all parts of the fiddle-leaf fig plant – these include leaves, stems, and roots. The fiddle-leaf fig contains non-living compounds that are in the form of bundles of needle-like crystals. These crystals are made up of pet toxic compounds – calcium oxalate packed with gelatinous oxalic acid. Collectively they are called raphides.

When ingested by cats, the raphides leave the idioblast cells and violently penetrate the inner mouth’s surface and the upper digestive tract. This causes immediate discomfort and pain to the cats and may develop into severe complications.

Diagnosis: Fig tree Poisoning in Cats and Kittens

  • (Common Fig Tree, Weeping Fig Tree, Fiddle-leaf Fig)

Since all these plants are related, the diagnosis tends to be similar to any toxicity-related incidents in your cats. If you suspect that your cat has fig tree poisoning, take it immediately to a veterinarian. There are no specific tests to rule out the cause of poisoning in this situation; hence the vet will diagnose based on the information you provide.

Give all the information in detail – the time of the first onset of symptoms, behavioral changes, what you suspect, etc. This information is crucial for the vet to accurately diagnose the cause of poisoning and what further steps to take.

Treatment: Fig Tree Poisoning in Cats and Kittens

In most instances, your cat or kitten may feel a lot of pain and discomfort due to the chemical compounds in fig plants. They may paw their mouth, stop eating, vomit, or roll over in pain. Your vet will first focus on making your cat comfortable and safe. Other Steps Include:

  • Washing the cat’s mouth to remove any crystals or compound residues of the toxins.
  • Administration of activated charcoal to bind with the toxic substance and prevent the cat’s body from absorbing more chemicals from the plant’s toxins.
  • May also perform a Gastric Lavage to remove any toxins from the cats or kittens stomach.
  • May administer different medicines to coat the stomach lining and reduce acids.
  • Iv fluids are injected in case the cat is dehydrated due to excessive vomiting.

Note: The treatment information is not limited to the above. This is a general opinion. For an expert opinion, we recommend you talk to your pet’s veterinarian. Do not administer medicines to your cat without talking to an expert vet.

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