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Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Posted by whatever6441 none (My Page) on
Mon, Jun 23, 14 at 19:24

Last week I found out about NuMex Twilight and got really interested in trying to grow it (and probably some other chiles too) indoors. Bruce (esox07 on here) generously sent me some NuMex Twilight seeds. I was already planning to keep the seedlings away from the cat so she couldn't destroy them. But over the weekend I told my girlfriend's mother I was going to try growing this and she asked me if it was safe for the cat, which, foolishly, I hadn't thought of (I don't grow a lot of plants).

I just did some searching on here and on the internet in general and I get the impression that the likely extent of the danger from the cat eating the plant is that it could give it temporary stomach upset. I could live with that. I doubt this cat would even try to eat the peppers, and hopefully it would stop eating the rest of the plant if it made it sick (although admittedly it hasn't worked yet with rubber bands and plastic).

Anyone have more concrete information / can speak from personal experience?

The most concrete information I could find was in the Merck Manual for Pet Health: Plants Poisonous to Animals -- basically seems to say it can cause stomach upset, likely not death. Does not seem to differentiate between pet species. This would seem to be a reliable source.

I found a discussion on thehotpepper.com, but the upshot is inconclusive.

Keywords: chili, feline, toxic, poisonous


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Peppers are part of the nightshade family which contain Alkaloids. Alkaloids effect the nervous systems of animals (including humans).
Background info (not necessarily related to peppers) Some alkaloids that you are probably familiar with are caffeine, nicotine, quinine, cocaine, and morphine, but there are many more destructive alkaloids out there such as Strychnine, which will kill 50% of rats exposed to just 0.16mg per kg of the rat's weight.

So I can not say definitively that there would be any problem if your cat ate a few leaves, but I would not recommend it.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Humans eat pepper leaves in certain dishes.
I think pepper leaves are safe for cats.

Josh


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Nightshade leaves in "large" doses are poisonous/deadly (except to bloody earwigs who seem to love them)

That being said, one or two leaves won't kill you or a small or medium or large mammal.

I grow a fair number of peppers and tomatoes each year and I have chipmunks, squirrels, cats, groundhogs and dogs in my area. They all know not to munch on the plants.

Animals are smarter than 99% of the people you know or will meet.

Bill


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

I've had many cats through the years including 7 right now. My peppers are in pots so they are really too tall for the cats to nibble, but cats do like to chew a few leaves or blades of grass upon occassion. Years ago I saw one of my cats bite into a green cayenne pod that was in a one gallon container. She didn't seem fazed at all and lived to a relatively old age.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

One of the members here has a cat that has munched on his seedlings with no ill effects.

Mine, he just wants to roll over on them...lol This cat LOVES being in the garden with me and I have never seen him interested in eating them EVER. Grass and onion leaves, on the other hand, he loves those.

I agree with Bill, animals KNOW what's good for them and what's not Humans, conversely, seldom do... or ignore it. I mean... look at us! We stick peppers with over 1 million SHU in our mouths!

Kevin


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Thank you all -- @pepper_rancher, @greenman28, @ottawapepper, @bjdurham, @woohooman -- for your replies, and sorry for taking so long to respond. Long story short, I decided to give it a shot and grow the NuMex Twilight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't kill the cat. This morning I saw her take a tentative nibble at a basil plant that we got a week or two ago. Maybe I'll get her some of that cat grass as a distraction to try to make her disinterested in eating the pepper plant.


pepper_rancher wrote:

but there are many more destructive alkaloids out there such as Strychnine, which will kill 50% of rats exposed to just 0.16mg per kg of the rat's weight.

Well, this is a cat-sized rat, so at least it has that going for it.

So I can not say definitively that there would be any problem if your cat ate a few leaves, but I would not recommend it.

Well, I won't purposely feed her any leaves, but I'm going to take my chances with her eating them on her own for now (well, once the plant is big enough that she couldn't kill it by eating it, that is).


greenman28 wrote:

Humans eat pepper leaves in certain dishes.

I didn't know that until I started reading about this stuff last month. I might give that a shot.


ottawapepper wrote:

Nightshade leaves in "large" doses are poisonous/deadly (except to bloody earwigs who seem to love them)

That being said, one or two leaves won't kill you or a small or medium or large mammal.

Hopefully the cat doesn't like it enough to want to eat large doses. I can't stand earwigs.

I grow a fair number of peppers and tomatoes each year and I have chipmunks, squirrels, cats, groundhogs and dogs in my area. They all know not to munch on the plants.

That sounds good.


bjdurham wrote:

I've had many cats through the years including 7 right now. My peppers are in pots so they are really too tall for the cats to nibble, but cats do like to chew a few leaves or blades of grass upon occassion.

It probably won't be doable to keep these plants out of the cat's reach. Have your cats chewed a few of your pepper plant leaves and been fine?

Years ago I saw one of my cats bite into a green cayenne pod that was in a one gallon container. She didn't seem fazed at all and lived to a relatively old age.

That's hilarious. I'm a bit surprised it didn't faze her at all.


woohooman wrote:


One of the members here has a cat that has munched on his seedlings with no ill effects.

That sounds good.


I agree with Bill, animals KNOW what's good for them and what's not Humans, conversely, seldom do... or ignore it. I mean... look at us! We stick peppers with over 1 million SHU in our mouths!

I know, right? I think I'd probably die if I stuck one of those peppers in my mouth. However, this cat does eat plastic and rubber bands at every opportunity. Sometimes I find it biting metal stuff. It also loves donuts and bread.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Beautiful girl, is she Bengal? Our big Bengal is the great plant destroyer, the little one will eat anything... so the plants live outside and the cats inside.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

My guess is the cat won't touch the plant. i think they have a pretty good insticnt on what's poisenes. I've kept pepper plants in my lving room the past two winters. As far as I can tell the only thing she did was poop in one of the larger pots. i've never seen her make any effort to eat the leaves.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Our cat doesn't bother any plants in my garden but she does like to lounge in it.
Randal


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Thanks @VedaBeeps. Yes, she's a Bengal. Am I hearing you right that you have 2 Bengals? If so, that must be a handful. My plants will mostly have to live inside, so they'll have to coexist.

Thanks for the feedback @andyandy, that sounds good (except for the poop).

Thanks for the feedback Randal. This is an indoor cat, so she has more limited amusements. I wonder if that could make a difference. But there don't seem to be problems reported by other people who've had the plants inside with cats.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

whatever6441, yes, two is a handful but getting the second (A Bengal/ Maine Coon mix,) was the best cat related decision we ever made because a bored Bengal is a Bengal that gets into things to entertain themselves- the breed really presents it's own set of unique challenges!

On the occasion they're into something they shouldn't be "No" has never been effective but trading for something they *can* have that is hers (or theirs,) works well so maybe some catnip or cat grass in a pot in an area of the house away from your peppers will do the trick.

Good luck!


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Bengal / Maine Coon is an interesting mix.


On the occasion they're into something they shouldn't be "No" has never been effective

Ain't that the truth! I'm fairly certain she knows what it means and just chooses to disregard it, unless you're actually willing to go and grab her.


but trading for something they *can* have that is hers (or theirs,) works well so maybe some catnip or cat grass in a pot in an area of the house away from your peppers will do the trick.

Ok, that sounds promising.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

I hope they're not poisonous to birds. I was soaking my big overwintered Douglah in the laundry sink next to the bird cage, I must have turned it the wrong way when I pulled the plug to drain, my parrot nibbled a few leaves.

I did just look it up, supposedly tomato and potato leaves and stems are so peppers undoubtedly are too. But this happened last night or this morning, and she seems fine. Maybe she didn't actually ingest any. She just loves to chew on whatever she can reach.

This post was edited by ajsmama on Sat, Jul 26, 14 at 14:20


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Well, she's still alive so nibbling a few leaves didn't hurt a 12-oz bird.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

ajsmama: Actually, I believe BIRDS are the only vertebrates that are immune to the pain of capsaicin. Nightshade LEAVES, on the other hand, I don't know.

Kevin


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Pepper plants are totally safe for cats.

Stay away from lillies, though.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Kevin - yeah, she really likes the dried peppers, but leaves were supposedly toxic. No ill effects so far though - she's demanding breakfast now, but I won't give her the yogurt she's asking for (she asks for mac and cheese too, but I don't know if dairy is good for birds plus I can only imagine the mess - plain pasta is messy enough!).


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

My 18 month old cat, properly named Pepper, loves laying in my potted containers. She has nibbled on leaves and even a pod once and she is fine.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

I don't agree. My cat didn't know it shouldn't munch on my tomato seedlings which are in the nightshade family.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

Zackey, you are tarring a large plant family with a broad brush. Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplants are all in the same family. These are important foodstuffs that are grown all over the world in the presence of cats.

Petunias are also in the same family.

Not all members of the Nightshade family contain dangerous amounts of alkaloids.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

@ajsmama, I'm glad to hear your bird is ok.


woohooman wrote:


Actually, I believe BIRDS are the only vertebrates that are immune to the pain of capsaicin.

Wow, that's interesting.


Sluginator wrote:


Pepper plants are totally safe for cats.

Stay away from lillies, though.

Ok, thanks. Not an issue for me currently, but I'll try to remember that (and of course it's good for anyone else reading the thread to know).


ajsmama wrote:


yeah, she really likes the dried peppers...the yogurt she's asking for (she asks for mac and cheese too

That's really funny. I never really thought about birds eating any of that stuff (except for seagulls maybe). What kind of bird is she?

@Bill_Missy that's a cute cat. I saw a cat that looked like that a while back and thought it would be interesting to see what the kittens of a cat like that and a bengal like this one would look like. Good to hear she's suffered no ill-effects from nibbling on the plants.


zackey wrote:


I don't agree. My cat didn't know it shouldn't munch on my tomato seedlings which are in the nightshade family.

I don't know about those plants being harmful or not to cats, but I agree with you: I don't trust my cat to be smart enough or whatever to know what it can / can't eat safely. Like I said before, it's constantly trying to eat things like rubber bands and plastic.


Sluginator wrote:


Zackey, you are tarring a large plant family with a broad brush. Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplants are all in the same family. These are important foodstuffs that are grown all over the world in the presence of cats.
Petunias are also in the same family.

Not all members of the Nightshade family contain dangerous amounts of alkaloids.

Tomato leaves are poisonous to humans in sufficient quantity though, right?


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

She's an African Gray parrot. 20 years old next month and says EVERYTHING - she's been through raising 2 kids, we used to say if she had hands she'd make a great babysitter, she had the potty-training lingo down pat, now she tells the kids "Push!" when they're putting on snowboots, "Tie your shoes" the rest of the year. Says "Hello" when I pick up the phone to call someone (must have great hearing, can hear the dial tone?), says "Bye, love you!" when someone leaves, "Goodnight, love you!" when I turn off the light at night. Asks for "Scratchy" when she wants to be petted/scratched, says "Whee!" when DH takes her for a "ride" (lifts his hand up with her sitting on it, brings down rapidly).

I like cats, I had a tricolor I loved when I was a kid but can't have one now with bird - plus DD is allergic. I may have to get an outside ("greenhouse" vs "barn") cat though - skunks apparently are immune to toxins in pepper leaves!


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

whatever6441 wrote:

"Tomato leaves are poisonous to humans in sufficient quantity though, right?"

Might be. Hard to say how much is dangerous.

Cats are more sensitive to plant toxins than we are because they don't normally eat plants, so they never evolved a method for detoxifying them. They depend on their prey to do that for them.

There is probably a difference between indoor cats and outdoor cats. If your cat finds peppers outdoors, it has many other plants to choose from, so it will probably leave the peppers alone. For an indoor cat, the pepper plants may be the only game in town, so the cat could eat more of them than it should.

It seems to me that an indoor cat eating houseplants is always undesirable behavior and should be stopped. I will see a vet next weekend so I will ask this question.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?


ajsmama wrote:


She's an African Gray parrot. 20 years old next month and says EVERYTHING...

Wow, that's incredible. They're so smart. I think African Grays are beautiful.


I like cats, I had a tricolor I loved when I was a kid but can't have one now with bird

I wonder how many cats would mess with a bird that size. I guess you don't want to find out the hard way though.


plus DD is allergic

Hairless cat?


I may have to get an outside ("greenhouse" vs "barn") cat though - skunks apparently are immune to toxins in pepper leaves!

If the idea is that the cat would ward off the skunks, I'm not too sure. I saw a documentary one time about skunks. I forget exactly what it was about -- skunks in general, or maybe a town that was having a particular problem with skunks. Anyway, they took night time footage that showed skunks coming around and captured them interacting with cats. It was very casual. They didn't attack or fight each other. Neither of them seem perturbed by the other.


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RE: Are capsicum plants reasonably safe for cats?

@Sluginator sorry, somehow I missed replying to your post.


Might be. Hard to say how much is dangerous.

Oh, ok.


Cats are more sensitive to plant toxins than we are because they don't normally eat plants, so they never evolved a method for detoxifying them. They depend on their prey to do that for them.

Ok. I imagine they'd also be more sensitive due to their size?


There is probably a difference between indoor cats and outdoor cats. If your cat finds peppers outdoors, it has many other plants to choose from, so it will probably leave the peppers alone. For an indoor cat, the pepper plants may be the only game in town, so the cat could eat more of them than it should.

That's what I was thinking. Maybe I'll get some cat grass or something to be on the safe side.


It seems to me that an indoor cat eating houseplants is always undesirable behavior and should be stopped. I will see a vet next weekend so I will ask this question.

I agree. I'll add that to the list along with rubber bands and plastic and send it to the cat in a strongly worded letter.


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