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An unlikely feline foe

By Genevieve Carroll Dec. 15, 2022

Robin Jankowski, English Department, is an avid fan of cats and goes to great lengths to make sure her pets are safe and cared for. Most pet owners immediately concern themselves with the best brands of food and choosing the right vet when it comes to providing a good life for their animals. However, a much overlooked danger to pets is houseplants, including common plants such as poinsettias, oleanders, aloe and many others. While many plants are poisonous and will only harm a pet if eaten, some such as English ivy and pencil cacti excrete sap that can irritate the skin of both humans and animals. These plants pose a threat to pets through presence alone. However, Jankowski is careful to only keep plants that will not poison her cats.

As someone who enjoys decorating her home with plants almost as much as owning cats, Jankowski has to balance filling her home with plants and keeping her cats safe. She first started keeping plants around the same time as she adopted her first cat, 20 years ago; therefore, finding non-toxic plants was a priority from the beginning. Jankowski’s cat Tristan Tzara was adopted with her brother Thelonious Monk in 2010 and is especially determined when it comes to eating plants.

“Tzara likes to chew my plants a lot. She jumps and climbs to reach even the ones that are hanging out of reach. She’s a wily creature,” Jankowski said.

Jankowski introduces new plants to her home monthly, sourcing them from places such as hardware stores and nurseries. After picking out a plant she thinks would suit her home, Jankowski researches it online to make sure it will not harm her cats. Only then does she find a spot to place it.

In her home, Jankowski has created a nook for her plants, including bleeding hearts and peperomia. She is fond of these plants, as they are easy to take care of and not toxic to cats. The nook is exposed to lots of sunlight and the plants there thrive.

“Making sure my cats are safe and healthy is at the top of my list. They are living creatures and I want to take responsibility for their wellbeing,” Jankowski said.

Jankowski loves to show her healthy and happy cats to her students—photos of the pair have claimed a spot in her introductory presentation and cat motifs adorn the walls of her classroom. Her phone gallery is also full of pictures of Tristan Tzara, Thelonious Monk and the decorative houseplants that have been carefully chosen for their safety.


About the Contributor

Gwen Carroll

staff writer

Gwen Carroll is a sophomore at Leland High School. She enjoys writing, both as a hobby and academically, and in her free time, likes to cook and study psychology.

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