Posted in cats, dogs, pet health

The four-pawed gardener

The gardener in me gets restless when green shoots begin to poke up from the ground in spring. In spite of my renown as the one in my family with the black thumb, due to my limited gardening skills, I like to think I’m improving. I may never rise to my sister’s level as a master gardener, but I will learn enough to keep a few plants alive.


One favorite houseplant of mine is a Christmas cactus that my mother had nurtured for years. It could be considered an heirloom plant, since my mother had cared for it after her aunt. I don’t know how long this aunt had taken care of it, but she was in her 90s when she died.

I’ve been very cautious about allowing it anywhere near the cats, especially since Daisy is known to be a plant nibbler. I have worried that something dire might happen to it if left to Daisy’s devices.

Also known as an Easter cactus, or Thanksgiving cactus, the Schlumbergera bridgesii has a great magenta flower that can blossom at any of these holidays, given some careful planning and control of the plant’s environment. I have read that this is not a cactus in the sense of the western cacti which survive in an arid environment, but a tropical plant. When my mother had it, it spent a good deal of time in a spare bedroom with the door closed, in preparation for its eventual blossoming.

So it was that the Christmas cactus came to reside next to my computer on top of a file box. The room is often closed and considered off-limits to the cats. That is, until last weekend. It was hot and humid, and I’d left the door ajar for a few minutes while I was elsewhere in the house, expecting to return shortly.

By the time I knew Daisy had found the plant, she was already licking her chops and a few green leaves were lying beneath the plant. While the whole plant appeared not to have been altered much, I wasn’t sure what eating the cactus might do to Daisy.

It was a relief to find the Christmas cactus on the ASPCA’s list of non-toxic plants. It isn’t a guarantee, however, that your pet will be safe when tasting a plant on the non-toxic list; after all, pets can have allergies like humans do.

It’s a good idea to limit the number of plants that your pet can reach, and only keep ones around that are considered non-toxic if eaten. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if your pet is acting peculiar and you know it has been tasting one of your plants. Be sure you know what the plant’s name is, and how much your pet may have eaten.

Daisy will, no doubt, get the itch to do a bit of pruning again, and I’m glad to know that it isn’t likely to harm her if she gets a bit of greenery from it.

Provided I keep the plant thriving, that is.



a little off-center, but full of good intentions