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Can Cats Eat Bamboo? Vet Approved Facts & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Cats Eat bamboo

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maja Platisa

In-House Veterinarian, DVM MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re new to owning a kitty, determining which plants and substances are potentially dangerous for them takes a lot of time and dedication. Some plants can be quite toxic for cats. Although many of us love the look of plants scattered around our home, when a cat comes into the equation, you must learn which ones are safe for them to be around. True bamboo is not toxic to cats, but some similar plants are. Keep reading to learn more!

Is Bamboo Toxic to Cats?

Bamboo is one of the plants that look great around the house and makes the whole home feel more inviting. The big question for cat owners is, can cats eat bamboo? Is it toxic for them? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a bit confusing. While golden or fishpole bamboo, Latin name Phyllostachys aurea, is not toxic to cats, some other species are.

Let’s look deeper at bamboo and whether it’s safe to have around your kitty. We’ll discuss the different types of bamboo and what could happen if your kitty accidentally eats the wrong kind.

bamboo in the backyard
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

What Is Bamboo?

True bamboo, or safe bamboo belongs to the Bambusoideae subfamily and family of Poaceae.1 It is an evergreen plant that is best known for being hollow and growing very quickly. Bamboo species can grow to nearly 3 feet in less than 24 hours. This makes it quite easy to grow. Bamboo is used for building due to its sturdiness and as food. One species, giant bamboo, is known as the largest grass family member.

People love adding bamboo to their homes and backyard gardens. Since it’s so easy to grow, it makes an ideal border both inside the home and out. You won’t need to worry about killing it easily, especially if you don’t have a green thumb.

Cats and True Bamboo

When it comes to true bamboo, it’s entirely safe for your cat. Cats are born obligate carnivores. They get their nutrition from meat and protein. True bamboo is 22% protein, but as a plant species, it is not digestible for cats. They may nibble at it but will not reap any benefits. Bamboo leaves and stems are actually quite hard, and if cats try to eat the leaves, they may get stuck in the back of their throat.

cat walking in front of a bamboo leaves
Photo Credit: AjayTvm, Shutterstock

The Confusion with Lucky Bamboo

While true bamboo isn’t an issue for cats, there are bamboo plants that are dangerous. One that is easily found is lucky bamboo. Also known as money tree or heavenly bamboo, it isn’t truly bamboo. Having this plant around your cat can be very dangerous since it is toxic to them.

What Happens If a Cat Eats Lucky Bamboo?

In most scenarios, lucky bamboo can make your kitty very sick. How sick they become is determined by how much of the plant they’ve ingested. When contacting your veterinarian, try to give them an idea of how much your cat has eaten. This will help them determine the best course of treatment. Here’s what to look for if your cat eats lucky bamboo.

lucky bamboo
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Common Cat Symptoms After Eating Lucky Bamboo:
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Coordination Problems
  • Drooling
  • No Appetite

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In Conclusion

While true bamboo is not toxic to your kitty, other plants that share the same name can be. Before bringing any plant into your house, make sure it is safe for your cat to ingest, and check the ASPCA list of safe and toxic plants for cats. You may try all the tricks in your arsenal, but stopping your cat from taking a nibble at the plants around your house is unlikely. When it comes to real bamboo, feel free to plant it in your garden. If your cat decides to give it a taste, they’ll be just fine.

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Featured Image Credit: raedon, Pixabay

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