Can Cats Eat String of Pearls? (Solved & Explained!)

String of Pearl is one of the more popular house plants due to its unique shape. But is it safe to have it in a house with a cat who might try to eat it?

String of Pearls is highly toxic to your pets and humans. Cats will not eat plants in large quantities but may lick or chew the stalk or leaves, and this will cause lethargy, vomiting, and even liver failure.

Let’s learn what makes a String of Pearl toxic, its effects on your cat if they eat some of it, and what to do with your String of Pearl to keep your cat safe. 

Is String of Pearls Safe for Cats?

String of Pearls is toxic to cats because they can get a mouthful of the stringy sap that coats the leaves when they chew on them. String of Pearls also contains chemicals that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.

However, String of Pearls isn’t horribly toxic, meaning your cats are likely to get sick but unlikely to get seriously ill. Still, you should consider taking your cat to the vet or calling your vet if you think they ate something they shouldn’t. 

What Happens if a Cat Eats String of Pearls?

String of Pearls is a toxic plant to cats. The toxic principles in the plant are irritating sap and pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These toxins mainly affect the liver, which could lead to liver failure if they ear large quantities.

However, you will see vomiting and diarrhea as the main symptoms in most cases. You might also see more scratching as the sap can irritate the skin. Ensure that you keep an eye on your cat until their symptoms stop.

Here is a list of the main symptoms to look for:

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  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Mouth irritation
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Skin irritation

While these symptoms don’t mean that your cat ate some of your String of Pearl, seeing multiple of these symptoms together might. 

What Makes String of Pearls Toxic?

The sap from a string of pearls can irritate humans and other mammals, so your pet may release the liquid by batting it with sharp claws or chewing on it. Some gardeners have found their plants at risk of being eaten by pets, and they suggest suspending the plants from the ceiling to avoid this problem.

The plant can lose its leaves if overwatered or not enough sunlight. String of Pearls can tolerate temperatures above 45° F, but not those below it. It is usually best to keep the plants indoors in colder climates.

How Toxic is String of Pearls?

String of Pearl plants are not life-threatening as they aren’t toxic enough. If you caught your cat nibbling on your String of Pearl plant, there’s no need to start panicking, but you can expect some minor symptoms.

The string of pearl plant has toxicity classes 2 and 4 – meaning it’s somewhat poisonous. This classification applies to cats, dogs, and humans, so keep all pets and children away from this plant. String of pearls causes minor illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhea that may occur if ingested.

String of Pearl is also a Class 4 dermatitis, which means the sap can cause rashes and other irritates on the skin. 

As always, it’s best to contact your vet, so they know what is happening and can give you advice specifically for your cat. 

How to Protect Your Cat from String of Pearl

In most instances, your cat isn’t going to chew on whatever plant it can find. Plenty of cats go their whole lives without wondering what a String of Pearl tastes like, even with one in the house. However, there are things you can do if you’re worried about your cat trying a nibble.

  • Remove the String of Pearl plant: The easiest way to ensure that your cat doesn’t eat a String of Pearl plant is to not have one in the house. 
  • Keep your String of Pearl in a secure room: Chances are there are rooms in your house your cats can’t go to, such as laundry rooms with cleaning products. Keeping your String of Pearl in a room or area where you keep other things you don’t want your cat to get into is a great place. 
  • Moving your String of Pearl out of reach: It might seem impossible to find somewhere elevated your cat can’t get to, but keep your plants in hanging baskets in an excellent way to keep them away from your cat. Also, ensure that you’re keeping your plants away from where you have your cat’s climbing structures.
  • Keep your String of Pearl trimmed: String of Pearl plants tend to cascade down from their planters, so it’s essential to keep your String of Pearl trimmed so your cat can’t get at it. If your cat sees something string-like hanging down, they will want to try playing with it, which could cause them to bite at it. 
  • Move the String of Pearl outside: If your cat spends most of their time indoors, then keeping your String of Pearl and any other mildly toxic plants outside is a great way to keep the plants you love while also protecting your cat. 
  • Keep the ASPCA list handy: The ASPCA list is a list of toxic plants to cats. It’s a good idea to keep this list on your phone or bookmarked on your browser so you can quickly check it before buying your next house plant. 

Now you can make a plan for what works best for you and your cat when it comes to having String of Pearl plants in your home and other house plants that may be toxic or mildly toxic for your cat. 

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While a String of Pearl plant might look amazing, it can cause health issues for your cat if they decide to eat some of it. Usually, there are only minor effects since the plant is mildly toxic but keeping the plants out of reach is a good idea to be safe.