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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
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Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science University of Melbourne
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What to do if cat ate a potted fern plant

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What to do if cat ate a potted fern plant?

Hi Rick

Can I ask some questions first

  1. How old is your cat?
  2. How long ago did he/she eat the fern and how much was eaten?
  3. Can you tell me the name of the fern?
  4. Is he/she showing any signs of ill health?


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Out cat is 4 to 6 month old. He has probably been eating on the fern all day. I'm not sure how much he has eatern. He has thrown up once and was doing some dry heaves.

The fern is a Kimberly Queen Fern.

Thanks for that Rick

This is common indoor plant and I’ve not heard of any problems with it. In addition it isn’t listed on my extensive list of plants known to be toxic to cats. So I doubt there will be any problem.

Cats will often eat plant material in order to clean their stomach out. This is a natural habit for them. Usually they will do this with grass. So it may be that his vomiting is part of the natural stomach cleaning habit. It is thought that plant material is a natural emetic and also that it binds to any indigestible material in the stomach (hair fibre, bones, etc), enabling it to be more easily eliminated.

It’s probably best to remove the fern from his access for now. However you should consider introducing a pot plant of normal grass into your house so that he has good access to plant material if he needs to. Some cats can get quite frantic if denied access to grass. I usually suggest to my clients who have indoor cats that they have two such pot plants and alternate them indoors and outdoors to provide a continuous supply of fresh grass.

In the meantime allow him water to drink over the next few hours and hold off food until he’s stoped the vomiting action. If he continues to vomit then he should be assessed by a vet.]

I hope I’ve been of assistance, Please contact me back if I can help further.

Kindest regards, Peter

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
OK, the CFA list of poisonous plants includes ferns, but doesn't list them specifically. This one is the Nephrolepis obliterata.

So you don't think this one is poisonous to cats?

Hi again

I’m aware that there are a few ferns that can be poisonous to dogs and cats. I’ve rechecked my lists and not found this fern to be a known cause of poisoning. It’s always difficult because there are literally millions of plants on this earth and not all can be tested. Vets generally know of common causes of poisoning in cats from experience and from prescribed lists. I am in Australia and this fern is native here. It’s a very common indoor plant in southern Australia and I have never seen a case of poisoning from it, nor have I heard of a case. It’s also not listed as being poisonous to children.

So I can only be as sure as that. In addition your cat has been chewing on the fern all day without any serious signs. The vomiting as I discussed earlier may just be a local action in the stomach. So my recommendation is to remove the fern to be on the safe side and keep a watch on him. If the vomiting persists or he seems to be unwell then he will need to be assessed by a vet. There is no “antidote” for most plant poisons…we simply treat for the symptoms.


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