Is String of Dolphins Toxic to Cats?


String of dolphins is a succulent of the Curio genus in the Asteraceae family. This species of trailing succulents is also called by other names as well like dolphin necklace, flying dolphins, or dolphin plant.

Its scientific name is Curio × Peregrinus, but is often incorrectly also called Senecio Peregrinus. This succulent is a hybrid between Curio Rowleyanus and Curio Articulatus.

Is String of Dolphins Toxic to Cats?

Yes, String of Dolphins is toxic to cats and other pets in general. The University of California has classified the toxicity class of some species of the Senecio family as 2 and 4.

Toxicity class 2 denotes that the plant is of a minor toxicity level. Ingestion of these plants may cause minor illnesses like diarrhea or vomiting.

Toxicity class 4 denotes that the plant can cause Dermatitis. The juice or sap of the plant may cause a skin rash or irritation.

What Is String of Dolphins?

String of Dolphins is a hybrid succulent of the string of pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus) and candle plant (Senecio Articulatus). The string of dolphins is a trailing succulent in the Asteraceae family.

String of Dolphins are easily identified by their leaves which are dolphin-shaped, hence the famous name. They are predominantly grown for their beautiful leaves which add interesting foliage to the garden.

String of Dolphins Plant

They are grown as hanging plants from pots on terrace gardens or walls or even as vertical gardens.

How Toxic Is String of Dolphins to Cats?

String of Dolphins and other plants in the Senecio family is assigned a toxicity class of 2 and 4.

If the plant is ingested, it can cause illnesses like diarrhea and vomiting which can lead to other serious conditions like dehydration.

Exposure to the plant’s sap or juice can cause skin rashes or irritation. If your cat’s skin comes in contact with the sap, a skin rash can appear.

The cause of toxicity in these plants is the presence of Pyrrolizidine alkaloid. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are a group of alkaloids occurring naturally in various plants.

These are produced by the plants as a defense mechanism against insects, pests, and other herbivores.

More than 6000 plants have been identified that produce Pyrrolizidine alkaloids and about half of them exhibit hepatotoxicity, which is liver damage caused by chemicals.

Though liver damage in cats due to ingestion of String of Dolphins is rare, it is still a possibility, especially in kittens. To get severely sick, the cat has to ingest a big amount of the plant which generally doesn’t happen.

Symptoms of String of Dolphins Ingestion in Cats

Some common symptoms of String of Dolphins toxicity in cats due to ingesting the plant are vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling.

Your cat may also develop mild skin irritation or rash if exposed to the sap or juice of the plant.

Severe side effects or liver failure is generally not possible as the cat needs to ingest a very large quantity of the plant which simply is not possible as the cat eats the plant out of curiosity rather than necessity.

What to Do if Your Cat Ingested String of Dolphins?

  • If your cat has ingested String of Dolphins or any other plant and exhibiting symptoms that are not normal, then call the Poison Control Center immediately.
  • The phone number of ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is (888) 426-4435. Keep it handy.
  • You may be asked about the plant that your cat ingested. It is advisable to keep the scientific name of the plant handy as describing the plant vaguely may lead to misinformation.
  • Always write the name of the plant on the pot so that is readily available if needed.
  • If your cat appears sick, rush him to the veterinarian. They are the experts equipped to handle emergencies like these.
  • Do not try to induce vomiting in your cat. This can cause additional discomfort to your pet and can also lead to dehydration.

Are There Other Succulents That Are Safe for Cats Besides String of Dolphins?

If you’re looking for cat-safe succulent varieties beyond the popular String of Dolphins, there are a few options to consider. Echeveria, Haworthia, and Calathea Makoyana are all safe choices that can add a touch of greenery to your space without posing a threat to your feline friend. Keep in mind that while these succulents are considered non-toxic to cats, it’s always essential to monitor your pet’s behavior around plants.

How to Keep Cats Away from Toxic Plants

Cats are by nature curious animals. They also will not shy from eating or nibbling at anything, even plants.

Cats and other pets cannot differentiate between toxic and safe plants. As responsible pet parents, we need to ensure measures are taken to keep pets away from toxic plants.

Here are 6 ways you can keep cats away from toxic plants are,

  1. Keep hanging plants with long tendrils like String of Dolphins, String of Pearls, and String of Bananas trimmed and out of reach of cats trying to swipe at them.
  2. If your plants are in a garden, ensure that you surround the toxic variety with plants having spikes like cactus, etc.
  3. If you are placing your plants on a pedestal or long stool, ensure there is not enough room for your cat to rest on it.
  4. Spray your toxic plants with cayenne pepper and your cat will not try to mess with them.
  5. Spray diluted or full-strength white vinegar(acetic acid) around your plants to deter them from coming close to these plants. Do remember that vinegar is an acid and can harm your plants if sprayed directly on the plant.
  6. Provide your cat access to cat safe grass or hay so that they can nibble and chew on them.

Is String of Dolphins Toxic to Cats – Conclusion

String of Dolphins is toxic to cats and other pets. Care should be taken so that your cat or other pets do not accidentally ingest it or come in contact with its sap or juice.

If ingested, rush your pet to your vet so that they can be treated immediately for any severe illness or side effects.

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