Q: I have two 4-month-old kittens. I think one of them may have eaten my philodendron today, because when I got home from work, he had some bloody drool around his mouth. He’s still very playful. I checked the internet and gave him tuna water and chicken broth. I don’t want my plant to kill him.
A: Philodendron leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals which, if ingested, irritate the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the stomach and intestines.
Affected cats drool and exhibit signs of abdominal pain. If your kitten chews your philodendron, paws at his mouth and then rubs his eyes, they’ll hurt too. Fortunately, that’s the extent of the plant’s toxicity.
Treatment includes chicken broth or tuna water (not tuna oil) to flush the crystals from the mouth, and milk or yogurt to bind the crystals and decrease discomfort.
To prevent your kittens from chewing your philodendron, set up a motion-activated aerosol canister that hisses out compressed air to scare away cats. Popular brands: Ssscat, StayAway, and Sensor Egg.
If your kitten’s bloody drool continues beyond a day, take him to the veterinarian. It’s possible a baby tooth has partially fallen out but needs a bit of help to completely dislodge, or that your kitten chewed an electrical cord and burned his mouth, which is a bigger problem.
Editor’s Note: Common household foods and cleaning products can pose a danger to cats and dogs. Dr. Lee provides information on pets and household hazards.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.