Recently I found out that the common houseplant Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is toxic to cats and dogs due to the presence of "insoluble raphides." I have a lot of these plants around my house and my cat drinks water from the vase that they are in (I put drinking water into the vase that he always drinks from). He doesn't chew the Pothos leaves, he only drinks the water, is it still dangerous? I tried several times to give him water in an ordinary bowl, but he prefers the water that's associated with the Pothos plant, so I thought that maybe the roots of the plant excrete something nutritious (but I guess that's not the case, apparently...). Is it harmful for an animal (cat) to drink water that has a Pothos plant immersed in it? Also, my other cat does chew on the Pothos leaves (he goes crazy for them). Is it possible to have immunity and not be affected by the toxic chemicals? I read that chewing is supposed to provoke stomach irritation, but I would think that if the cat that chews the leaves suffered from irritation he wouldn't keep getting excited about chewing the leaves...
So what is going on? Many thanks!


Perhaps someone else can answer this with more certainty, but I'd guess that because raphides are essentially sharp crystals that cause irritation-related symptoms, rather than toxic chemicals in the way one might usually think of them, that drinking the water wouldn't pose a problem (actually, I suppose the word "insoluble" might be a clue here). Raphides are defence against herbivory, and chewing raphide-containing leaves is what you want not to do (or not let your pets do).

Veterinary Toxicology p. 889 has more info.

  • $\begingroup$ "insoluble" is a big clue, I'm dense today. Thanks for the input and link. $\endgroup$ – Emi Matro Aug 1 '13 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't being sarcastic! I'm still trying to work out the whole soluble/insoluble fiber thing, myself. $\endgroup$ – Oreotrephes Aug 1 '13 at 16:07

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