Are Bonsai Trees Harmful To Cats?

For the majority of enthusiasts, owning a bonsai tree or two is a perfectly safe hobby – I can’t really think of one much safe. However, if you own cats it could be a different story. Is it a myth or are bonsai trees harmful to cats?


Not all bonsai tree species are harmful to cats, however, the species that tick the boxes are highly toxic to cats. Any bonsai tree that contains cycasin is poisonous to cats. 


What Bonsai Should You Look Out For?


will a bonsai hurt my cat


The Sago Palm is a subtropical tree often used for bonsais due to their aesthetic. As nice as they are for a bonsai tree hobbyist, they are extremely toxic to both cats and dogs.


It’s said that every single part of this bonsai is poisonous to cats and dogs, with the most toxic being the seeds and buds.


Cycasin is the toxic agent that is deadly to any cat or dog that ingests a part of the bonsai tree. It can cause a number of severe problems including catastrophic liver failure within 15 minutes of ingestion.


Common Symptoms To Look Out For


  • Diarrhea
  • Black tarry stool
  • Vomiting 
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetance


Weakness, seizures and tremors can also be seen up to 2 days after ingestion. If you have a pet with any of the symptoms of you suspect that your cat or dog has eaten some of this bonsai, please contact your vet or a helpline immediately – it’s extremely serious.


Less Poisonous Bonsai Trees


Cats reactions to the Sago Palm bonsai will most likely be the most severe with a 50% survival rate, however there are still other poisonous bonsai trees to look out for.


To name a few:


  • Fig
  • Norfolk Island Pine
  • Cherry
  • Plum
  • Baby Jade
  • Azaleas
  • Ambrosia Mexicana
  • Australian Ivy Palm
  • Cardboard Palm
  • Coontie Palm
  • Fern Palm
  • Giant Dracaena
  • Australian Pine
  • Buddhist Pine
  • Apricot


I would highly recommend checking with a vet or forums for other cat owners to see if you are able to find a bonsai tree that is definitely not going to be harmful to your cat – it’s not worth the risk.


It’s worth noting that as well as causing symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, just contact with certain bonsai trees can be enough to cause skin irritation for your cat.


If you own a bonsai tree and a cat, keep an eye on the bonsai constantly for any missing foliage or even branches. If you notice anything missing, immediately find your cat and assess the situation just incase. Of course if you have any doubts or see any symptoms, ring your vet straight away.


Bonsai trees, as beautiful as they are, aren’t worth the life of a family pet so please take every precaution possible to ensure you are not having a cat and a poisonous bonsai in the same house!