Aloe (Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vera) is a popular houseplant that we like to keep handy as a remedy for a number of skin conditions. The vitamins and the myriad of nutrients in the plant work wonder for human skin.
Aloe has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It’s known to help heal wounds and improve the general condition of the skin and prevent wrinkles.
If aloe is so beneficial to people, can we also consider it safe for cats?
The answer is twofold. Mainly, the outer part of the aloe plant is toxic to cats. However, the aloe vera gel-like juice that is inside the leaves is safe for cats.
Confusing? Read the rest of the article to find out more!
Why is aloe both toxic and safe for cats?
The aloe plant is considered to be dangerous to cats because of its outer part (the skin of the leaves) which contains saponins and anthraquinones (ASPCA).
In more simple terms, it contains a sticky latex, which has strong purgatory properties and leads to digestive distress and severe diarrhea.
However, also according to ASPCA, “the gel is considered edible”. It means that the gooey gel inside the thick leaves, the part with the healing properties, is safe and edible for cats.
How can a cat absorb a toxic part of aloe?
Because the toxic substances are based in the skin of the aloe vera leaves, a cat can absorb them by eating or chewing on the leaves.
In the cat products, watch out for the ingredient “Aloes”. Aloes consist of latex, that is extracted from the skin of aloe leaves.
A cat will not become poisoned by the aloe vera plant through a skin/coat contact with a plant or by smelling it (something that can happen with other plants, such as lavender).
How can a cat absorb a safe part of aloe?
When you see aloe vera as an ingredient in various cat products, for example, in a cat shampoo, don’t panic. It’s most likely the aloe vera gel, that is safe for cats and has potent healing properties.
A cat can absorb the aloe vera gel by digesting it (oral intake) or topically (dermal intake).
It’s safe to put the aloe vera gel directly from the broken leaves onto your cat’s skin. It’s also fine for your cat to eat the gel.
How to keep a cat safe from aloe
To keep a cat safe from the toxic parts of aloe, simply keep away the aloe vera plants out of your cat’s reach so that she cannot gnaw on them and eat them.
You could also try to spray the plants with a smell cats hate, for example, vinegar or a special cat repellent spray.
Symptoms of aloe poisoning in a cat
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), symptoms of aloe poisoning in a cat are vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea.
How to treat a cat poisoned with aloe
Don’t panic if you saw your cat gnawing on the aloe vera leaves a little. Small quantities of digested aloe outer parts will likely cause only a small discomfort.
A cat would need to consume a large quantity of foliage to become very sick. A large quantity of latex in the digestive system could lead to severe diarrhea which could cause dehydration that could be lethal.
If that’s the case and your cat feels very bad and has strong diarrhea then call your vet or ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) immediately. Your cat may need to be treated with IV fluids to survive.
Luckily, the aloe vera plant is bitter in taste which is not attractive to cats so the chances that your cat will eat a lot of the bitter leaves is rather small.
Aloe and Cats – FAQ
Can cats lick aloe vera?
The aloe vera gel-like juice, separated from the outer part of the leaf is edible and safe for a cat to digest. If your cat has a wound or skin irritation, you can cut the aloe vera leaf and squeeze the gooey gel onto your cat’s skin. It’s fine if your cat licks it.
What part of aloe is toxic to cats?
The part of aloe toxic to cats is an outer part of the leaf that contains latex. Latex has purgatory properties and if eaten in a large quantity, it could make your cat dehydrate and even kill.
The gooey aloe vera gel inside the leaves is safe for cats to eat.
Can you use aloe on the cat’s skin?
You can use the aloe vera gel on the cat’s skin. The aloe vera gel and juice have a myriad of beneficial properties and will heal your cat’s skin the same way as it heals human skin.
It’s the latex contained in the outer leaves of aloe vera that is toxic to cats. Cat products are made with aloe vera gel, so you can rest easy your cat is safe when applying an aloe vera cat product to your furry friend.
Sources used in this article:
Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life, Mary L. Wulff, Greg L. Tilford, 2009
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