Are Money Trees Toxic to Cats

icon May 17, 2024

The question of whether certain houseplants are toxic to pets is crucial for pet owners. One popular houseplant, the Money Tree (Pachira aquatica), often raises this question. This article will explore the potential toxicity of Money Trees to cats, examining scientific evidence, expert opinions, and practical advice for pet owners. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between Money Trees and feline health.

Botanical Overview of the Money Tree

The Money Tree, scientifically known as Pachira aquatica, is a tropical wetland tree native to Central and South America. It is often cultivated as a houseplant due to its attractive braided trunk and lush, green foliage. In feng shui, the Money Tree is believed to bring good luck and prosperity, which contributes to its popularity. The plant thrives in indirect sunlight and requires minimal care, making it a favorite among houseplant enthusiasts.

Are Money Trees Toxic to Cats?

The primary concern for pet owners is whether Money Trees are toxic to their cats. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Money Trees are not listed as toxic to cats, dogs, or horses. This classification is significant as it suggests that, under normal circumstances, the Money Tree does not contain harmful substances that can adversely affect your pet’s health.

However, the absence of explicit toxicity does not imply that the plant is entirely safe. Some plants can cause mild gastrointestinal upset if ingested, even if they are not classified as toxic. Let's explore what happens when cats interact with non-toxic plants and the specific concerns related to Money Trees.

Potential Effects of Non-Toxic Plants on Cats

1. Gastrointestinal Upset:
Even non-toxic plants can cause mild digestive issues in cats. Ingesting leaves or stems might lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. These symptoms are usually not severe and subside on their own.

2. Choking Hazards:
Cats might chew on plant leaves, which can lead to choking, especially if the leaves are large or tough.

3. Behavioral Concerns:
Some cats are more curious than others and may be prone to chewing on houseplants out of boredom or curiosity. Ensuring your cat has plenty of toys and enrichment activities can help reduce this behavior.

Detailed Analysis of Money Tree and Cats

Given that Money Trees are not classified as toxic, it’s important to look at the plant's components and understand why it is generally considered safe. The main parts of the Money Tree include:

The leaves are glossy and lance-shaped. While non-toxic, excessive ingestion can still lead to digestive upset in cats.

The stems and trunk are often braided. These parts are usually not accessible to cats, but if chewed, they are unlikely to cause serious harm.

Money Trees contain a milky sap that can be mildly irritating. If a cat comes into contact with the sap and then licks its fur, it might experience minor irritation or discomfort.

Symptoms of Plant Ingestion in Cats

If a cat ingests any part of a Money Tree, pet owners should monitor their pet for signs of distress.

Common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting: This is the most likely symptom and usually occurs shortly after ingestion.  
  • Diarrhea: Loose stools can follow ingestion but typically resolve within a day.
  • Drooling: Increased salivation might occur if the sap irritates the cat's mouth or throat.
  • Lethargy: A cat might become less active if it feels unwell due to mild gastrointestinal upset.

If symptoms are mild and resolve quickly, there is typically no cause for alarm. However, if symptoms persist or are severe, consulting a veterinarian is advised.

Preventing Plant Ingestion

Preventing cats from chewing on houseplants is crucial for their safety and your peace of mind. Here are some strategies:

1. Placement:
Keep plants out of reach. Use hanging planters or place plants on high shelves.

2. Cat Grass:
Provide safe alternatives like cat grass, which cats can chew without harm.

3. Training:
Use positive reinforcement to train cats to avoid plants. For instance, you can use cat-friendly deterrents like citrus peels around the plants.

4. Enrichment:
Ensure your cat has plenty of toys and activities to keep it occupied and reduce curiosity about plants.

Case Studies and Expert Opinions

To provide a well-rounded perspective, let’s look at some expert opinions and case studies regarding Money Trees and cats.

♣  Veterinary Insight:
Many veterinarians agree that while Money Trees are not toxic, any plant ingestion should be monitored. Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, emphasizes that even non-toxic plants can cause mild symptoms that should not be ignored.

♣  Pet Owner Experiences:
Anecdotal evidence from pet owners indicates that incidents of significant harm from Money Trees are rare. Most cases involve mild symptoms that resolve without veterinary intervention.

Alternative Houseplants Safe for Cats

If you are particularly concerned about the interaction between your cat and houseplants, consider other non-toxic options. Some safe houseplants include:

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum): Known for its air-purifying qualities and safety for pets.

Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens): A pet-friendly plant that adds a tropical touch to your home.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata): A safe and visually appealing option for pet owners.


In conclusion, Money Trees (Pachira aquatica) are generally considered non-toxic to cats. While they do not contain harmful substances that can cause severe toxicity, ingestion can still lead to mild gastrointestinal upset. Pet owners should monitor their cats for symptoms and take preventive measures to minimize plant chewing. By understanding the potential risks and implementing practical strategies, you can enjoy the beauty of Money Trees and other houseplants while ensuring your cat remains healthy and safe. 

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