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C2006-47

Dear Christopher Cat

I just moved into a new apartment, and a friend gave me a sago palm. My cats love to play with houseplants, and sometimes they chew them. Is the sago palm safe for them?

Christopher Responds

No. It’s very toxic to us pets.

Sago palms are popular outdoor plants in Florida and California, and they are enjoyed elsewhere as houseplants and bonsai trees.

Unfortunately for us pets, sago palms contain a toxin called cycasin. If ingested, cycasin damages the liver.

Related plants, including the fern palm or false sago palm, also contain cycasin.

This poison is distributed throughout the sago palm, but it is most concentrated in the seeds. Ingestion of just one or two seeds can be fatal to us cats.

Cycasin causes vomiting, loss of appetite and sometimes jaundice as liver damage progresses.

If we pets eat enough cycasin, it can kill us. So please move your new sago palm to a room that’s off limits to your cats – or better yet, give it to a friend with no pets.

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