Fiddle leaf figs are a species of trees in the mulberry fig family. Native to Western Africa, these trees can grow close to fifty feet tall in the wild.
But like any houseplant, you might wonder if fiddle leaf figs are toxic to cats? Indoor cats especially, just love to chew on any houseplant they can. Typically from boredom, but other times they might just like the taste.
With this in mind, as a responsible cat owner, you wouldn’t want to bring any plant in the house that’s dangerous to your cat.
Are Fiddle Leaf Figs Toxic To Cats?
Yes. Fiddle leaf figs aren’t a cat killer like some other well-known houseplants, but your cat can still get rather sick if they eat any part of the plant. It’s not going to be a pleasant experience for either you or your cat, and the tree will certainly not enjoy being chewed up.
Why Are Fiddle Leaf Figs Toxic To Cats?
What makes these plants toxic to your cat is the presence of insoluble calcium oxalates. If the name “calcium oxalates” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same substance that our kidney stones are made out of. The ‘insoluble” part comes from the fact these little stones aren’t going to dissipate in your cat’s system and instead will bury itself into the intestinal tract.
So the little insoluble calcium oxalates don’t pose a life-threatening risk to your cat, but this doesn’t make them any less painful either.
What Are The Symptoms of Fiddle Leaf Fig Poisoning?
The good news is that the symptoms of the poisoning are very easy to spot. The bad news is said symptoms are very uncomfortable for your cat. Because of the way the insoluble calcium oxalates bury themselves in your cat’s mouth and stomach, you’ll notice your cat may have excess drooling to try to clean its mouth and visible oral inflammation. Your cat may even paw at its mouth if it’s in pain.
Other symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea as your cat’s body tries to remove these little stones in any way possible. Which makes the whole experience, as we’ve said, quite uncomfortable to your cat.
What Do I Do If My Cat Ate Parts of a Fiddle Leaf Fig?
The first thing to do is remain calm. Any sort of screaming, or running around in a panic, might make your cat nervous and make their symptoms even worse. Because the toxicity is mild, and brought on by the insoluble calcium oxalates, you can treat your cat at home. The symptoms and discomfort should pass after a day.
In the meantime, you can take these simple steps while your cat works on their rest.
- Provide Plenty of Water. If your cat is experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, they can quickly become dehydrated. Dehydration is much worse than anything the fiddle leaf fig can do.
- Let Your Cat Drink Milk. Milk, along with any food or drink with a high calcium content, will help dissolve the oxalates and relieve some of your cat’s discomfort
- Make Sure Your Cat Is Comfortable. Finally, make sure your cat is comfortable. Helping them by distracting them from the discomfort will make the healing process go by quicker.
All in all, your cat will make a full recovery within a day. There are no known lasting effects of fiddle leaf fig poisoning, and as previously mentioned it’s not deadly. If your cat is still exhibiting symptoms even after a day, contact your veterinarian. Your cat may have possibly ingested a large amount of the plant, or the initial poisoning has effected an underlying medical issue.
Take note of how much of the plant your cat ingested and bring their medical history with you. Your vet will likely run them through some tests, and induce vomiting. More than likely in this scenario your cat will need to stay overnight for monitoring.
Having to go to the vet due to the fiddle leaf fig is rare, but not unheard of so, always be prepared in case the worse does come to pass.
Can I Still Keep A Fiddle Leaf Fig In My House?
Since the fiddle leaf fig isn’t life-threatening to your cat, you’re more than welcome to keep one in your house. You should also take steps so your cat won’t want to chew on the plant in the first place.
The best step is to ensure your cat has plenty of attention and plenty of toys. Cats go after houseplants mainly due to boredom, so if they’re not bored they won’t have a reason to harass your plants.
If your cat is well known for chewing on plants, try having more cat-friendly plants in your house as a distraction. You can find a rather large assortment of these plants both online and in pet stores. Due to their aroma, taste, and even nutritional content your cat is likely to go after these plants and not your tree.
Finally, if you feel none of these steps are working and you can’t bring yourself to get rid of your tree, then you’ll need to move it into a room your cat isn’t allowed in. Be it a bedroom, a study, you can even try planting it outside if your cat tends to have free range of the house.
Of course, sometimes the best prevention is to never have the possibility of having your cat sick so a fiddle leaf fig may not be right for you.
Compared to the other poisonous plants we’ve covered, fiddle leaf fig certainly isn’t the worse but it’s still not a pleasant experience for your cat either. As all cats are different, your feline friend may attempt to go after it.
Other times, they may not care in the slightest. You’ll have to be the judge before bringing any new, and possibly dangerous plants in the house so always exercise caution so your cat and your plants will remain safe.
In short, yes the Fiddle Leaf Fig plant is mildly toxic to cats and will cause very mild oral and GI irritation. The symptoms for Fiddle Leaf Fig poisoning only will last about 24 hrs and you can help treat the symptoms with plenty of milk and water.
If your cat experiences breathing problems and you suspect they got into the plant, please visit the Pet Poison Helpline, or see your veterinarian as soon as possible.