Rubber Plants are very popular ornamental houseplants, especially across all of Asia. They also make excellent feng shui and Vaastu that supplements its popularity in the Asian region. The genus of the plant is native to South and Southeast Asia but easily adapts everywhere.

The plant’s foliage has a strong build and requires less sunlight and water, making it relatively easy to care for. Although these factors contribute to its popularity, the leaves of the plant steal the show. Rubber plants have some of the most beautiful deep-green leaves with glossy & waxy texture.

Outdoors the Ficus elastic can grow up to 3 meters and spread across a wide area. For Indoors, you can keep it as a small decorative plant by pruning and cutting it regularly. In the wild, they flower and bear fruit. However, it does not happen for indoor houseplants.

Toxic vs. Non-Toxic for cats

Rubber plants belonging to the Peperomia family are relatively harmless for your cats and dogs. Other varieties of rubber trees are very toxic. Listed here is the list of toxic and nontoxic rubber plants.

American Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)

  • Toxicity Levels for Cats: Non-Toxic (Very Safe)
  • Toxicity levels for kittens: Mild

Jade Rubber Plant (Japanese/Chinese Rubber Plant)

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

Indian Rubber Plant (Ficus Benjamina)

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

American Rubber Plant and Cats

This plant belongs to the Peperomia genus is mostly non-toxic to your cats. It may cause slight discomfort in the cats or kittens if ingested. However, if the plant I ingested in large amounts, your pet may suffer nausea and start vomiting.

This could also lead to gastrointestinal issues, oral irritation and may cause in the upper airways and stomach. Do not panic if your cat has chewed on the American Rubber plant. The symptoms and discomfort usually subside after the feline vomits out the foreign particles.

If the symptoms persist and you suspect that your cat may have ingested large amounts of the plant and experience difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Indian/Japanese Rubber plant and Cats

Commonly known as the weeping fig tree (Scientific Name: Ficus Benjamina), the Indian Rubber Tree is a popular plant for outdoor gardens. The plant is indigenous to Southeast Asia and is usually grown as an indoor pot plant.

They need very little care and grow well in harsh conditions too. It has thick and oblong leaves that lengthen up to 12 inches and also bear fig-like fruits. The Indian rubber tree stems ooze out the sap, which was erstwhile used to make rubber.

Is Indian Rubber Tree Cat safe?

It is highly recommended to avoid placing Indian/Jade rubber trees in your homes if you have any pets. The toxins in the sap of the tree are very poisonous to cats. They may cause life-threatening implications if ingested by kittens.

In almost all the “Which plants are toxic to cats” webpages, including the ASPCA, the Indian rubber plant, and the jade rubber plant. Chewing any part of the plants – leaves, stems, roots, will irritate the mouth, stomach, intestines, and the upper airway tracts.
Symptoms: Indian Rubber tree poisoning in Cats

Rubber tree poisoning symptoms in cats and kittens include:

  • Redden and Swollen lips, mouth, and tongue
  • Foam at mouth
  • Constant Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal and dermal irritation
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Swelling in the upper airways that causes difficulty in breathing

Causes: Rubber tree poisoning in Cats

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

The toxic substance in most Rubber plants, including the Japanese and Indian rubber plant is ficin and ficusin.

These compounds can attack the DNA of your cats and kittens, causing health-hazardous reactions. The reactions induce complications such as vomiting, diarrhea, swelling in the GI tract, and upper respiratory pathway.

Suppose you suspect that your cat, especially kittens, have come in contact with the rubber 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.

Diagnosis: Rubber tree Poisoning in Cats and Kittens

(Japanese Rubber plant, Chinese Rubber Plant, Jade Rubber plant, Indian Rubber Plant)
Since all these plants are related to the Ficus genus, the diagnosis also tends to be similar to any toxicity-related incidents in your cats.

If you suspect that your cat has rubber tree poisoning, take it immediately to a veterinarian for diagnosis. There are no specific tests to rule out the cause of rubber plants; 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, what you suspect, behavioral changes, etc. This information is crucial for the vet to accurately diagnose the cause of poisoning and take further steps accordingly.

Treatment: Rubber Tree Poisoning in Cats and Kittens

In most instances, your cat or kitten may feel a lot of pain and discomfort due to rubber plants’ chemical compounds. They may stop eating, paw their mouth constantly, 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 compound or crystals residues of the toxins
  • Administration of activated charcoal to bind with the toxic substance. This will prevent the cat’s body from absorbing more chemicals from the rubber plant’s toxins
  • Gastric Lavage may also be performed to remove any toxins from the cats or kittens stomach
  • 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.