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Are rubber plants toxic to cats

Are rubber plants toxic to cats



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Are rubber plants toxic to cats? Many of you have asked whether your cats should eat or touch the tropical plants sold in many major U.S. and Canadian pet stores, with answers ranging from "no, they're all safe" to "they're fine, but don't let them eat it." Let's look at the evidence.

Cats have been co-evolving with our domesticated plants for nearly 10,000 years, as domesticated cats first made their way out of the Middle East about 9000 years ago, according to the book Catteries: A History and Field Guide. This period of interaction has not just shaped our cats' preferences in many ways, but has also enabled them to survive in a variety of environments that have few natural predators.

Cats are generalist predators, meaning they'll eat almost anything—in fact, they'll eat just about anything and everything. Although domestic cats are not good at identifying nutritious food for themselves, they have an exquisite ability to notice other animals eating a plant. This is perhaps their greatest advantage: By watching how other animals eat, your cat can learn what is good for them.

Cats eat more than 100 different plants, a wide variety of foods that they can subsist on by themselves, so there is certnly nothing cats are "starved for." Many plants have been domesticated over millennia to feed cats. They include apples, tomatoes, melons, carrots, beans, peas, lettuce, celery, asparagus, avocados, parsnips, raspberries, figs, bananas, nectarines, strawberries, peaches, apples, cherries, cranberries, lettuce, collard greens, parsley, carrots, watermelon, bananas, avocados, and cucumbers. Because many of these fruits are small, your cat may not know when it's time to stop.

So are plants toxic to cats? Most, but not all, of them contn substances that can harm cats. Some plants, such as carrots, parsnips, strawberries, cucumbers, and melons, are poisonous to cats when they consume them in large quantities. Others, like tomatoes, apples, and avocados, are toxic when a cat consumes them in an amount of more than a few bites. These large quantities are not likely to occur naturally in a cat's diet, but they may be due to carelessness, such as a cat that eats the entire fruit of an overripe avocado or tomato.

Cats eat all parts of the plant—petals, leaves, seeds, fruits, roots, and flowers. Although many of these can be toxic in large quantities, this is not a problem as long as a cat eats only a few of the parts at a time.

Many plants can provide both nutrients and toxins, and they are eaten in various amounts. If your cat eats a plant, there are two ways it can be poisoned.

First, if the plant is so full of toxins that it can't absorb all the nutrients a cat needs, then a cat will suffer. The first sign of poisoning is an upset stomach. If your cat eats too much of a plant, there are two things you can do to help it: Give your cat medication, such as Imodium, to clear the digestive tract, and reduce the amount of toxin in your cat's system. Second, plants sometimes contn beneficial nutrients and other substances that may have a toxic effect in larger amounts. This can be the case for some vegetables such as broccoli. A vet or animal behaviorist can help you determine how much of any plant your cat is eating, and what type of plant it is.

**Table 2. Plant Facts: A Plant List for Pets**

If you have planted a garden or have bought a plant from the garden center or the supermarket, take a few minutes to look over the list of plants on page 2 to find out more about the plants you've purchased. You may be able to identify the plant and its parts by looking at the label on the package, or by reading the identification on the plant itself. Many plants and parts of plants are poisonous, and their identification is a very useful way to determine whether or not you have made a poisoning mistake when you are treating your pet.

While a few small plants can pose no problem, more than one or two plants that the cat has eaten can cause more serious poisoning. It is always best to eliminate the source of a poisoning problem. If your cat ate one or more plants that contn any plant toxin, a vet can help you learn about safe amounts of those toxins and determine whether you need to treat your cat.

**Figure 3.1 Plant Toxins.** _(Illustration credit: C. McClure)_

## **Rabies**

Rabies is a deadly virus that is contracted by the bite of an infected animal. Rabies is most often found in animals that belong to the Canidae (fox) family, such as red foxes, raccoons, and bats. Although it is most often associated with wild animals, rabies has been found in pet cats and dogs. It's important to know how to recognize a rabies infection, as well as how to prevent and treat it.

The symptoms of rabies are often mistaken for other diseases, making it difficult to recognize and treat. If your pet has had a bite, it's important to consult a veterinarian immediately so that treatment can be started as soon as possible. If you suspect that your pet may be suffering from rabies, he or she should be given an exam, given fluids and drugs to help keep the animal comfortable, and placed under general anesthesia to be bitten. This makes the procedure easier for the veterinarian to do and reduces the chances that the dog will thrash around during the procedure. Rabies shots should be given after exposure to help prevent the infection from becoming more serious. Rabies is fatal unless treated, it will kill the animal within one to three weeks if left untreated.

There is a vaccine that is used in the United States to prevent rabies. The vaccine is required for anyone who works with wild animals and is given at least once a year. Pet owners should be familiar with the recommended vaccination schedule for their particular breed and should discuss it with their veterinarian. Vaccines are also avlable for cats and dogs.

## **Feline Leukemia**

Feline leukemia is a serious viral disease that is common in cats. The infection is most common in outdoor cats and cats that are not well cared for. One of the symptoms of feline leukemia is a lump under the skin. The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can live in the cat for years after it is initially contracted.

There is no cure for feline leukemia, but the disease can be prevented by having cats vaccinated for FeLV. There is also a vaccine avlable to prevent the disease. The vaccine is typically given when a kitten is about six months old and can be given yearly for life.

## **Feline Immunodeficiency Virus**

FIV is another viral disease that is often found in older, outdoor cats. The virus causes an immunosuppressive disease, leaving the cat susceptible to other diseases and infections. The infection does not affect the health of the cat as a whole, but it is more common in older cats that have not been properly vaccinated.

The treatment for this disease is also different from other viral infections. First, the cat must be isolated to prevent the spreading of the virus. Secondly, it is necessary to treat for secondary infections, and the cat must be kept on a specific diet.

Vaccines for FIV exist for the cat. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this disease. If the cat has been vaccinated


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