Are Coffee Plants Toxic to Cats?

Yes, the foliage and bark of the coffee plant contain toxins called “Saponins” which are poisonous to cats. Saponins can cause irritation within the cat’s oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. 

Most people are unaware that the botanical plant used to prepare coffee for 66% of Americans is actually toxic for pets, including cats, dogs, and birds. 

Even a small amount of ingestion of the coffee plant can trigger health complications, including abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. 

Therefore, keeping your pet far away from coffee plants and all kinds of caffeinated products is advised. 

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about coffee plant poisoning in cats. So, let’s begin without any more delay. 

What Is Coffee Tree Poisoning?

Scientifically known as “Polyscia Guilfoylei,” the coffee tree is one of the most beautiful indoor plant species in the world. 

It is a flowering plant that blooms in the springtime with little bright red berries, broad, dark green leaves and white flowers. 

While the picture painted above might sound beautiful, according to the Animal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA), the coffee plant is poisonous to cats. 

All parts of the coffee plant, including the stems, flowers, and coffee beans, contain toxic chemicals like saponins and methylxanthine, which can be dangerous to cats.

Whether your cat has brushed up against the plant or ingested a small part, the toxins (saponins) can irritate the cat’s skin and cause inflammation within its mouth and gastrointestinal tract. 

Even though it is very rare for coffee tree poisoning to be life-threatening, it is still imperative that you take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as it starts acting strange or gets sick.  

Is the Coffee Tree Plant Toxic to Cats?

Aralia, geranium-leaf aralia, and wild coffee are names of some of the most common coffee tree plants in Central America and Northern America. 

These plants are an American gardener’s favorite, especially because of their dense foliage and towering heights. 

However, all kinds of coffee tree plants are highly toxic to cats as they comprise saponins. Any contact with the toxins can cause your cat to have anorexia, depression, vomiting, and dermatitis. 

Is the Arabica Coffee Plant Toxic to Cats? 

The Arabica coffee plant produces coffee cherry, which contains the beans we grind, brew, and drink. 

So, while the Arabica coffee plant itself is not toxic to cats, unfortunately, its beans are toxic. Thus, it is advised to keep the plant in an enclosed area that is inaccessible to your pet.

Coffee Arabica has toxins known as saponins which are dangerous for animals and even humans, except for the mature coffee bean. 

If touched or ingested, these toxins can not only provoke irritation in the oral cavity and digestive system, but also trigger skin eruptions. 

While consuming a small quantity of coffee plant can cause the cat to have diarrhea and vomiting, ingestion in large quantities can lead to seizure, irregular heartbeats, and even death.

What Are the Causes of Coffee Plant Poisoning in Cats?

As stated earlier, the coffee plant is rich in toxins, including saponins (polysciosides A to H), polyacetylene terpenoid, triterpene glycosides, methylxanthine, and falcarinol. 

These irritants can enter the cat’s digestive tract and cause inflammation, which can lead to several health complications if not dealt with in time.

What Are the Symptoms of Coffee Plant Poisoning in Cats?

The symptoms of coffee plant poisoning can vary depending on how much plant your cat has consumed. 

If your cat has ingested a small amount of the coffee tree, chances are that there will be no visible symptoms. 

Hence, although you have nothing to worry about, it is wise to watch out for caffeine toxicity symptoms. Note that the coffee ground toxic to cats ranges from 36 to 68 mg/lb (80 – 150 mg/kg).

On the other hand, if your furry friend has consumed a large amount of the coffee tree plant, you might see changes in the cat’s eating habits and behavior soon after exposure to the toxins.  

Common signs that indicate coffee plant poisoning include vomiting, loss of appetite, tremors, seizures, weakness, agitation, fatigue, depression, increased heart rate, and contact dermatitis (skin rashes). 

Saponins are a potent irritant in coffee plants that can cause blisters, rashes, redness and itching when they come in contact with living beings. 

In case you haven’t seen your cat anywhere near the coffee plant, nibbling it or touching it, but your cat is showing the symptoms mentioned above, take your pet to the vet right away. 

Clinical symptoms of coffee plant poisoning can last from 6 to 12 hours, depending on the dose of caffeine ingestion.

How Is Coffee Plant Poisoning Diagnosed in Cats?

Whether you have seen your cat chewing or touching the coffee plant, or noticed any symptoms of diarrhea, take the four-legged furry creature to the veterinarian. 

Once you have brought your cat to the vet, the doctor will conduct a physical examination to look for signs of coffee plant toxicity. 

The veterinarian will ask if you have a coffee plant in your home, whether you suspect ingestion of the plant, your cat’s dietary habits, and how long your cat has been sick. 

Because there is no proper test to determine coffee plant toxicity in animals, the vet will study the symptoms, look at the cat’s stomach for signs of inflammation, and analyze the content of the vomit.

In severe cases, the doctor might ask you to bring a sample of the plant or its picture, and will also conduct a blood test to deduce the toxicity level. 

What Is the Treatment for Coffee Plant Poisoning in Cats?

Once the veterinarian has confirmed that your cat is suffering from coffee plant poisoning, they will begin the treatment immediately. 

In order to prevent your cat from electrolyte imbalances and dehydration, the vet will give it fluids using intravenous injection (IV).

Next, the healthcare provider will try to induce vomiting and use activated charcoal to remove the remaining toxins from the cat’s body. 

In addition to this, the vet might also perform “Gastric Lavage,” a method used to clean the cat’s stomach using fluids. 

If your cat has liver damage, the vet might prescribe liver support supplements to speed up healing. 

Furthermore, if your pet hasn’t experienced any gastrointestinal symptoms, it means that the exposure was only topical. 

Thus, the veterinarian will inject steroids like corticosteroids into your cat to alleviate the inflammation and swelling from the cat’s skin.

In case of severe dehydration, the vet will keep your cat under observation for 24 to 48 hours after giving the necessary treatment to make sure that the pet’s condition doesn’t worsen. 

How Long Does It Take for a Cat to Recover from Coffee Plant Poisoning? 

The good news is that most cats fully recover after the treatment. Nevertheless, it is vital to get them the required medical attention as soon as possible. 

Considering that your cat might have a weak stomach, the vet will also ask you to change your cat’s diet to softer foods for a few days to ensure a smooth recovery. 

Make sure to keep an eye on your cat during the recovery process and take it back to the veteran if it starts exhibiting any other symptoms. 

Coffee Plant Poisoning | Prevention Tips and Tricks 

The only foolproof way of preventing your cat from eating or touching the coffee plant is to avoid buying one. 

However, in case you already have a coffee plant, make sure to keep it in a locked area that is inaccessible to the cat. 

You can also sprinkle repellents such as citrus or cayenne pepper around the coffee plant to reduce the odor and keep the cat away. 

Even though it might seem impossible to train a cat, with a little effort, you can teach them to stay away from the toxic plant at all costs. 

If your furry pet loves playing with plants, get them a plant of their own. Opt for pet-friendly plants such as hibiscus, roses, and bromeliads. This will also keep their attention away from the coffee plant. 

Wrapping It Up!

Cats are typically attracted to the soul-calming and delicious scent of coffee plants and love to nibble and play with the green leaves. 

However, ingesting or touching the coffee plant can result in exposure to toxins such as saponins and methylxanthine, which can be dangerous for your cat. 

So, if your cat is suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, or being extra lazy, there’s a probable chance that the coffee plant toxins have infected its gastrointestinal tract. 

Thus, don’t waste any more time and take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. 

We hope this article helped you learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of coffee plant toxicity in cats. 

Use our guide to take care of your cat and prevent it from accidentally consuming the toxic plant. You can use the ASPCA’s list to learn about the plants that are toxic and non-toxic for cats. 

You must remember that as a pet owner, it is your responsibility to stay vigilant and keep all toxic plants away from your cat, especially coffee plants. 

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