What is this plant? Will it kill my cats if they eat it?
April 28, 2017 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Pretty straightforward question. New housemate is bringing this plant with her. We don't know what it is, so we don't know if it's poisonous to cats. Can anyone identify it?
posted by tzikeh to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
99% sure that's a Peace Lily, which is toxic to cats. Sorry :(
posted by Fig at 6:34 PM on April 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'll second that. Looks like a Peace Lily to me too.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:49 PM on April 28, 2017

Well rats. I guess it won't be moving in with us.
posted by tzikeh at 7:09 PM on April 28, 2017

Yes, it's a peace lily. Toxic to cats. Likes a lot of sun and water. I had one not knowing it was toxic and my chewy plant-eating cat was not at all interested in it, even though he chews lots of other plants. If your cat isn't a climber and you can put the plant up high, it might be ok.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:40 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Peace lilies are completely unrelated to true lilies, despite their names. Lilies are extremely toxic to cats, but I do not believe the same holds for peace lilies, which are Spathiphyllum.

I would check with your vet before determining for sure that this is an issue. I think a lot of the answers you find online are people confused about the plant and thinking they are lilies.
posted by lollusc at 11:21 PM on April 28, 2017

Just realized I made an error above; Peace lilies like a lot of water (they wilt dramatically between waterings) but they only like medium light.

Agree that they are not true lilies, but still, the ASPCA says they're toxic to both cats and dogs.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:31 PM on April 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Like other houseplants from the aroid family (Aglaonema, Epipremnum, Philodendron, Alocasia, Monstera, Anthurium), Spathiphyllum are hazardous mainly because the leaves and petioles contain sharp, needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate. When the plant is bitten, the crystals jab into gums and tongue and cause pain and swelling.[1]

Most animals are smart enough not to bite them more than once, because the pain is a substantial deterrent, but even if an animal repeatedly chewed the plant, it is unlikely to be life-threatening, and would probably be limited to vomiting, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and pain in and around the mouth, as the ASPCA site says. (And this is assuming an unusually persistent cat who is unable to learn from their mistakes.) My understanding is that the effects usually only last for a day or two.

If the question were about Dieffenbachia, I'd say just get a different plant, but I personally would not be that worried about Spathiphyllum. I'd watch both cat and plant pretty carefully in the first week or so, and maybe try to put the plant in a less-accessible location, but I don't think there's that much actual danger here.


[1] Dieffenbachia, also an aroid, is significantly more dangerous, because there's other stuff present in dieffs that causes more substantial swelling and can lead to the formation of open sores and stuff. The swelling can occasionally get so bad that it affects breathing.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:44 AM on April 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

I had one and I hung it from the ceiling to keep it away from the cats.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:43 PM on April 29, 2017

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