You see this plant almost everywhere these days. It’s called the Snake Plant, also known as Sansevieria or, in Malaysia, Mother-in-law’s tongue (pokok lidah mentua – I know, it’s sad, right?).
This plant has been hailed as an easy way to purify the air, hence the increase in demand to have these as indoor house plants. It also helps that these plants are quite affordable and very easy to maintain (read: won’t die so easily on non-green thumbs like me!).
Many sites claim they are pet-friendly so I gave it no thought whatsoever when our pet cat, Thomas, would gnaw on a leaf or two once in a while. I’ve always thought cats would know instinctively what’s good for them or stay away from what’s toxic for them. Hah! Or so I thought.
Now you must understand that Thomas is part-British Longhair. Because of his long fur, we’ve always thought that it’s quite normal for him to spit out hairballs once in a while together with a bit of mucous. The incidents recurred a couple of times but we did not give it much thought.
Meanwhile, at some point, Thomas chewed down practically all the leaves of our Snake Plant that my mom decided to send the plant outdoors to allow it to recuperate.
Soon after, Thomas got really, really sick. He had diarrhea, randomly vomited all over the house, pooped on my comforter (!), refused to groom himself, and hid under the stairs. The fact that he stopped grooming himself was really alarming because it’s a sure-fire sign that a cat is unwell, made worse by the knowledge that when cats hide themselves, it’s when they’re really ill and/or about to die (a lifetime of caring for cats taught me that).
It was late evening and our vet’s clinic was closed so we decided to clean him up manually, stopped all dry food, and just left fresh water everywhere. I started searching online for possible causes of cat vomiting and diarrhea. After reading several articles, my heart jumped when I came across an article that mentioned that snake plants actually contain a certain toxin and should be kept away from pets.
Thankfully, Thomas somehow recovered the morning after. He came out of hiding, groomed himself, and returned to his usual active, noisy self.
Suffice to say that the snake plant is now permanently kept outdoors now!