Are Ficus Trees Poisonous To Cats? (If Yes, What Makes Them?)

Are ficus trees poisonous to cats

One of the most popular indoor tropical tree species is the Ficus tree, also known as the Fig tree. With over 850 sub-species of Ficus, there is a good chance you or someone close to you has owned one of these. As such, the cross-over between Ficus owners and cat owners is large. This got me thinking, are Ficus trees poisonous to cats? 

Ficus trees are poisonous to cats. Ficus trees can cause diarrhea, vomiting, drooling rashes and stomach upset among cats. This will typically be caused by your cat ingesting any part of the tree, especially the sap. 

So what should you do if your cat has eaten or come into contact with a Ficus tree? And how do you prevent your cat from going near a Ficus in the future? Keep reading to find out more!

Are Ficus trees poisonous to cats? 

So recently I’ve finally finished my house move and gone from a two-bedroom flat into a 3 bedroom house with a garden. 

As such, we have quite a few neighborhood cats that like to hang out in my garden, near the conservatory where I keep my tree.  

With me keeping my Ficus bonsai tree near the garden, the last thing I want is for my Ficus to cause cats to fall ill. 

As such, I got in touch with my local vet, reached out to my local botanical garden, and read the studies on if Ficus trees are poisonous to cats. 

To summarize: 

  • Most of the 850 Ficus species globally are toxic to cats.  
  • The vast majority of the toxicity of the Ficus tree comes either from ingestion of the sap that the leaves produce or by ingesting the leaves. 
  • If you have a Ficus tree that produces figs/berries, then the sap on these figs and berries will also be toxic. 
  • The vast majority of cases are from cats that are kept indoors near Ficus which is commonly kept as an indoor plant. 
  • The main side effects of a cat ingesting Ficus include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, drooling, and gastrointestinal discomfort. 
  • Rashes and skin irritation are also commonplace in situations where cats do not ingest Ficus but rub up against it. 
  • Cats can also sometimes choke on the leaves and berries/figs that Ficus produce. 
  • Kittens will be more prone to eating and chewing on Ficus than grown cats. 

Are ficus trees poisonous to cats - infographic

Are Ficus trees poisonous to cats: Studies

So I didn’t just want to write up a post without any substantial scientific studies underpinning this post. 

As such, I went through numerous studies that investigated the toxicity of Ficus. 

A lot of these studies (with a few exceptions) were geared to the toxicity of Ficus in humans. 

The general findings of the studies then were: 

With cats being a lot smaller, we know that any small toxicity to people will be amplified in cats meaning that Ficus can be poisonous to cats. 

To summarize: 


The ASPCA highlights Ficus Benjamina/fig plants on their list of toxic plants/trees to cats.

University of California Study

The University of California determines Ficus to have class four toxicity. This will mean Ficus can cause rashes, and skin irritation in species such as Ficus Benjamina and Ficus Elastica. 

Yaacob Ilyanie, Tin Wui Wong and Chee Yan Choo study 

In their study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, researchers found that Ficus had low levels of oral toxicity ( drooling, skin irritation) in mice if consumed. 

Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy study – May 2021

In volume 137 of the biomedicine and pharmacotherapy, a study found that Ficus tree leaves if consumed in very high quantities can be toxic ( skin irritation, vomiting) 

This will be amplified with cats. 

National library of medicine

A study by the national library of medicine found that whilst Ficus has some good medicinal properties used for anti-inflammatory illnesses its sap does contain latex

Cats are then allergic to the latex found in the sap of Ficus Benjamina. 

What should you do if your cat has eaten a Ficus? 

If you think your cat has consumed or come into contact with Ficus, take note of what sub-species the tree was and call up your local or emergency vet immediately. Avoid treating the cat yourself by getting the cat to throw up unless directly instructed to do so by a vet. 

A few details then you should keep nearby if you own a do are as follows: 

Whilst for most cats, the main symptoms are typically mild and tend to subside in 24 to 48 hours, the more of the Ficus they have come into contact with/eaten, the more severe the side effects will be. 

According to Dr. Callum Turner – Veterinarian at St.Davids: 

“Weeping fig poisoning results in skin and oral irritation which can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms among other symptoms; you should rinse out the mouth thoroughly and the skin around the mouth. If other symptoms present or you’re concerned you should visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side.”

What part of the Ficus is poisonous to cats?

The main reason why Ficus is toxic to cats is due to the sap it produces. 

Ficus/fig trees often produce sap when woking or training/wiring them which is common in bonsai tree keeping. 

This sap contains latex which is toxic to cats. It’s one of the reasons why it’s best to keep latex gloves and other products away from cats. 

This sap typically runs through all parts of the tree including the branches, roots, leaves, and trunk. 

This means that even if your cat does not ingest the Ficus tree and simply rubs up against it, it too can still get poisoned by the tree. 

What happens if your cat eats Ficus?

If your cat eats a Ficus tree it will suffer mild to severe side effects depending on the severity of contact/ingestion of the tree. 

The main side effects include: 

  • VomitingYour cat’s natural defense will be to try to throw up the toxins if it has consumed the tree 
  • DihorreaSimilar to above, your cat will try to remove the toxins from its system as quickly as possible 
  • Skin irritation/RashesCommon if your cat rubs up against the tree but does not eat it, typically on the face of a cat. 
  • DroolingThis occurs if your cat has eaten the Ficus leaves. 
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort – if ingested, Ficus can cause gastrointestinal discomfort as your cat’s stomach tries to mitigate the damage caused by Ficus. 
  • AnorexiaEating Ficus that causes distress to your cat can stop it from wanting to eat food for a prolonged period. This can cause it to lose weight and become anorexic. 

Whilst most cats will get a mild side effect from eating Ficus, it is still important that you call up your vet as soon as possible if you think this is the case. 

How to prevent your cat from eating Ficus 

To prevent your cat from eating toxic Ficus, there are a few steps you can follow including: 

Invest in a less toxic species 

If you know you have an adventure cat who likes to run around and touch everything in your house, consider getting rid of your Ficus and investing in tree species that are non-toxic to them. 

Juniper for example can make for good species (just be aware that your cat might choke on some of the small, needle-like leaves/tips) 

Keep your Ficus in a cage

Cats are excellent climbers and get everywhere. 

Even if you keep your Ficus high and out of reach, trust me when I say your cat will get to it!

That being said, one option that works well is keeping your bonsai tree in a cage. 

Cages are typically used to prevent birds, squirrels, and other animals from attacking outdoor trees. 

Doing this on an indoor tree like Ficus will stop your cats from touching the leaves and chewing on the branches. 

Keep your Ficus in a separate room 

It is likely that you have a room in your house that your cat does not frequent as much as other rooms. 

An example would be a loft or space that your cat can’t enter. 

Keeping your Ficus in a separate room from your cat will stop it from being cruse and wanting to explore what the tree is. 

Water when your cat is away 

Cats love being the center of attention…when your attention is elsewhere. 

As such is it not uncommon when you are giving your Ficus attention by watering them that your cat decides to jump on and rub itself up against your Ficus. 

As such, when pruning, wiring, training or just watering your Ficus, ensure you move your cat into another room or keep your cat in a carrier while you do. 

What type of cats come into contact with Ficus?

Typically, kittens are more likely to consume and chew on Ficus than adult cats. Other cat species that are more curious in temperament will also frequent ingest Ficus,  such as Maine-Coons

Can cats eat figs? 

Cats cannot eat the figs/berries that Ficus trees produce. This is because the figs produce latex sap that is toxic to cats. Call up your vet if your cat has eaten figs. 

Ficus seeds are also toxic and should not be eaten by cats. 

What indoor plants are not toxic to cats? 

Fukien tea, Olive, Iron tree, Parlour Palm, and Ladypalm are all indoor trees that are safe to keep around cats. These will cause only mild irritation to cats if ingested in large quantities. 

To read up more about Olive check out my post here. 

Hopefully the post today has helped answer are Ficus trees poisonous to cats

Alternatively, I’d consider reading up on my post around indoor trees, and trees that are toxic to the following animals: 

You can also read up on if bonsai trees are toxic to people here

This post was written by Fehed Nicass who has been passionate about bonsai for over 3 years. He currently resides in the UK and works in sales.

Fehed Nicass

Fehed Nicass has been passionate about all things bonsai and botany focused for the past 3 years. What started out as a hobby has developed as a passion and he is now on a mission to teach and learn.

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