Plants and flowers are something most of us have in their homes.
But did you know that some plants are actually toxic for cats?!
And those darn cats just love to chew on leaves and flowers.
So, shouldn’t you know which poisonous plants for cats you should avoid?!
Yes, you absolutely should! That’s why I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about poisonous plants for cats – what symptoms to look for, the most commonly inquired about plants, and which ones you should absolutely avoid.
Cats may be carnivores but they sure like to eat plants! And since plants do add fiber and other nutrients into a cat’s diet it’s natural for them to eat them.
Although, you’re probably wondering why house cats would continue to eat plants and flowers now that they’re getting all their nutrients from cat food.
Well, first of all, it is in a cat’s nature to chew on plants. Plus, it probably feels good on their gums to chew on plants.
And some plants just taste good – unfortunately those are often the plants and flowers which are most dangerous to cats.
Plus, even if they aren’t actually chewing or eating the plants, they could still be getting some of the poisons on their fur – which can cause skin irritation and even internal poisoning if your cat licks their fur.
There’s also this super cool article about using plants within your home.
Poisonous plants can have all sorts of effects on cats. Just a few things that could happen if your cat eats a poisonous plant include(click for more info):
Diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and strange behavior due to an upset stomach are all very common symptoms that occur after a cat eats something they shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, your cat can exhibit these symptoms due to other health concerns so it can sometimes be hard to tell if it’s because your cat has been poisoned. If these symptoms come on very suddenly, your cat seems very much in distress, or they are lethargic you had better consult with a veterinarian pretty quickly.
Lethargy can be a symptom of quite a few health issues – but if it comes on fast or is extremely noticeable consult your veterinarian right away. Even if it is not because of plant toxins – extreme, sudden lethargy is a sign your cat needs medical attention.
Much like when humans are exposed to allergens, a cat’s throat can constrict when they eat something poisonous.
If you notice your cat struggling to breathe or swallow, or if your cat suddenly starts drooling excessively or stretching their mouth around strangely seek veterinary attention immediately.
Toxins from plants and flowers can get onto your cat’s skin and cause irritation. This can lead to your cat’s skin becoming mildly itchy and red, or it can also lead to blisters and extreme redness.
If your cat starts to show signs of skin issues watch their skin carefully. If you suspect it is from a plant or flower or if it gets worse consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If the toxin from the plant has affected the kidneys it can quickly lead to your cat drinking a lot more fluids – and urinating a lot.
These symptoms can also be indicative of diabetes and a few other health conditions, and they are serious enough symptoms to warrant seeing a veterinarian to diagnose.
Toxins in plants can trigger an irregular, fast, or slowed down heartbeat.
Heartbeat irregularities in cats are generally not normal so if you notice heart changes in your cat see a vet immediately.
Some toxins are worse for some organs than others and will attack that particular organ.
Occasionally you will notice symptoms like lethargy and other irregular behavior occurring almost immediately so you can seek help immediately, but unfortunately, sometimes the organs weaken over time and you may not see symptoms until it’s too late.
Yes, unfortunately, some plants are so toxic they can lead to the death of your cat. Sometimes it comes on instantaneously, but usually you do get some warning.
Keep a watch out for the symptoms above and get medical attention immediately – especially if you know or suspect your cat has been eating plants or flowers.
Keep an eye out for any of the symptoms above and seek medical attention as soon as possible if you notice any.
And if you see, or suspect, that your cat has chewed on any sort of plant or flower remove your cat from the plant immediately. If they have any petals or green stuff in their fur or mouth remove that immediately as well.
Then consult our list below – or phone your vet – to see if what they have eaten is poisonous and what they suggest you do.
If you’re not completely sure of the name of the plant your cat has ingested give a detailed description, send a picture if you can. Or bring a piece of the plant with you when you visit the vet.
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If your cat has eaten a known, or suspected, toxin your vet will do an exam to evaluate their current condition.
Your treatment options will range depending on the type of poison eaten and the current condition of your cat.
You may have to give your cat activated charcoal to absorb toxins, other medications to encourage your cat to vomit up the toxic substance, and possibly IV medication, fluids, and other treatments.
Your cat may even be admitted into a veterinarian hospital for observation, or released to you for very careful observation.
And it’s possible your cat’s digestive system could be damaged for a long period of time, or even permanently after being exposed to a toxin. This may require them to be on further medication or an altered diet.
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There are some plants and flowers asked about a lot when it comes to toxicity. And it’s time to finally find out once and for all if they are actually OK or not for your cat.
Are Poinsettias Poisonous For Cats?
Poinsettias are probably the main plant you hear about being toxic to cats. These beautiful, leafy plants, popular at Christmastime, seem to stir up warnings every year about not having them in your home if you have a cat.
So, is it true?
Well, kind of. The truth is that yes, they are technically toxic to cats – but they are only mildly toxic. Which means your cat likely won’t develop any serious conditions, or even need medical attention if your cat eats the leaves.
It’s actually the white sap in the leaves is where the worst of the toxins come from in this plant. So, if your cat ingests that, or gets it on their skin, you likely will sometimes see some mild reactions.
Now that doesn’t mean you should run out and buy a dozen poinsettias. All it means is that if your cat doesn’t generally like to chew on plants, this is probably a safe one to have around. Because on the off chance they do chew it, it’s not likely to hurt them much.
If you do have a cat who loves chewing however, you may want to skip the poinsettia – it’s not worth exposing your cat to even mild discomfort.
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Are Roses Poisonous To Cats?
Another plant that gets questioned a lot about being poisonous is the rose plant.
Your average rose plant is not toxic to cats. But since rose bushes have thorns and other sharp leaves and stems, they can be very dangerous for cats to chew on. The risk of getting cuts in their mouth, as well as their digestive and gastrointestinal system from these sharp objects raises a huge health concern.
But no, the petals and other parts of the rose bush shouldn’t cause your cats too much trouble. Your cat may get some stomach discomfort if anything is ingested, but nothing of too much concern.
It’s also very important to note that there are many types of roses and some of them actually are quite poisonous for cats! The desert rose, Christmas rose, Moss rose, and Primrose are just a few other types of roses which are dangerously toxic for cats and should be avoided in your home.
Are Mums Poisonous To Cats?
Chrysanthemums (Mums) are an extremely popular plant that is technically toxic for cats so it’s best not to have them around. But no extremely dangerous symptoms have been reported.
Your cat will likely get some moderate stomach discomfort if they eat Mums – and you should take them to a vet to reduce this discomfort.
Are Carnations Poisonous To Cats?
Carnations are one of the most popular flowers – so its toxicity level gets asked about often.
And yes, they are technically toxic for cats. Yet, much like Mums and roses, your cat is unlikely to have any issues beyond stomach irritation.
Are Orchids Poisonous To Cats?
I often hear people talking about how orchids are dangerous for cats. However, the rumor that orchids are poisonous to cats is totally unfound. The Moth Orchids and the Moon Orchid are the two most common varieties of Orchid and there have never been any reports to indicate they pose any problems in cats.
So, most orchids – especially the common types – are not toxic for your cat in any way.
Are Tulips Poisonous To Cats?
Yes! Tulips are one commonly asked about plant that is, in fact, poisonous for cats!
In fact, tulips are quite toxic to most animals. That’s because tulip plants contain a large group of toxins called “tulipalin” which naturally wards off herbivores who may think the plant is food.
If your cat eats a lot of a tulip plant it can affect their liver, but even if they simply nibble or rub on the leaves of the plant it can still cause some reaction in them. This is when you’ll see some irritation of the tissues.
Symptoms of tulip poisoning can come on quite suddenly and are usually very noticeable. Symptoms include:
Treatment includes fluid therapy and occasionally other medications. The length and outcome of the treatment depend on how much of the tulip plant was digested and how quickly veterinarian attention was given.
Are Daisies Poisonous To Cats?
Unfortunately, daisies are another flower that is quite poisonous for cats.
Like with tulips, symptoms for poisoning from daisies come up quite suddenly and are very noticeable. You need to get attention from a vet immediately.
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Please note that this list of dangerous plants and flowers is by no means an exhaustive list. There are unfortunately quite a few plants which can be at least somewhat toxic to cats. But some of the more commonly found house plants which are poisonous to cats include:
The entire daffodil plant is toxic to cats, but it’s the bulb which contains the most poisons for a cat. If your cat ingests any part of a daffodil be aware they can get symptoms ranging from mouth sensitivity to more serious effects like convulsions or low blood pressure.
With most types of lilies (Tiger lilies, Easter lilies, Asiatic lilies) the entire plant is extremely poisonous for cats! Even ingesting a very small amount can cause extreme kidney failure in your cat.
And watch out for Day Lilies! While the entire plant is toxic, the pollen from the flowers can be deadly for cats.
Aloe Vera Plant
Aloe Vera is generally considered a great plant to have around because the gel found in the leaves of the plant can soothe and heal any cuts, burns, and other irritations in humans.
But for the sake of your cat, you may want to reconsider having an Aloe Vera plant in your home.
Even in very small amounts, Aloe Vera plant can be toxic for your cat. In small amounts your cat will get some very unpleasant side effects like red urine, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and lethargy. However, the more of the plant that is ingested the higher the risk is for developing dangerous side effects like tremors.
Interestingly it’s not actually the Aloe Vera gel that is toxic, it’s the latex just under the skin. And although it’s uncommon, this latex on the plant can cause irritation in humans as well. Using straight gel on your cat’s irritations can be OK in some situations – but please check with your veterinarian first.
Rhododendron and Azalea
Even licking and ingesting a small amount of any plant in the rhododendron family can trigger a toxic response in your cat! And eating larger amounts can be seriously bad news for your cat – with very dangerous and even deadly side effects.
Kalanchoe (AKA The Mother-in-law Plant)
This common houseplant should be kept out of your home if you have cats! All parts of this plant are toxic and can cause anything from gastrointestinal issues to more serious heart arrhythmias, depending on how much of the plant is ingested.
This popular shrub is generally found in warmer climates. And it’s extremely dangerous for your cats to eat – or even get on their skin.
The toxins in this plant can trigger a very dangerous cardiac response in this cat. The symptoms that come up in your cat soon after exposure can be very scary – muscle tremors, incoordination, seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.
Since this plant is often found outside, please skip it or keep it in a very sheltered area for the sake of your cats – and the other neighborhood pets.
Cyclamen (AKA Sowbread)
This plant is commonly found in a lot of homes – however, it’s quite poisonous.
If ingested in smaller amounts you’ll notice mouth irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, if a great amount is ingested your cat can suffer from seizures, heart abnormalities, and it can even lead to death.
These flowers may be very beautiful but they contain extremely high levels of toxicity for cats. It’s best if your cat stays far away from the entire plant, but the highest toxicity is found in the flowers, seeds, and bulbs.
These toxins can cause extreme kidney damage – and can potentially lead to death.
Dieffenbachia (AKA Dumb Cane)
This is a very common houseplant found in many homes across North America. But watch out for it – cats like to chew on it, and it’s quite poisonous for them.
While it likely won’t be fatal for your cat, it can still cause extremely dangerous and unpleasant side effects for your cat such as burning of the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
This palm is actually known by several other names (some names include: cardboard palm and coontie palm). And it’s a dangerous one for cats!
If ingested your cat can suffer from some very serious, very unpleasant effects such as bleeding disorders, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, and even extreme kidney failure and even death.
Surprisingly, although they are totally edible for humans, a large number of herbs you grow in your garden or kitchen actually aren’t considered safe for cats – and Spanish Thyme is especially dangerous!
Even if your cat’s fur comes into contact with the leaves it can cause intense burning of their skin. Licking it can cause some majorly intense vomiting and diarrhea. And if your cat ingests any of the essential oils from these plants it can cause major respiratory distress.
If you happen to be growing a marijuana plant or two in your home or garden you should know that these plants are also quite poisonous for cats.
Some people confuse catnip with marijuana and assume that marijuana is a safe plant for cats to nibble on – but it is NOT.
If eaten, marijuana can cause depression, vomiting, incoordination, lethargy, low body temperature, and even seizures, coma, and death of your cat.
Something that’s incredibly vital to keep in mind is that even if you have plants which are completely safe for cats – somewhere along the way the plant may have been sprayed by a fertilizing mixture or another compound to make the plant grow better and look better.
And most of these sprays can be extremely dangerous for cats to eat and have on their skin.
And you may even be the culprit in making your safe plants unsafe. Most fertilizers and plant food contain chemicals and other toxins very poisonous for cats.
If you have a cat you should only buy safe house plants, and you also need to make sure you buy or grow them from an organic source – with no chemical fertilizers or sprays used.
Related Article: animalbliss.com/dangerous-plants-for-cats/
Maybe you just can’t stop your cat from chewing on even your safer plants. Or it’s possible you really love some plants or flowers which are considered unsafe, and you’re scared of having them around.
If you just can’t bear to part with your plants there are some things you can do to discourage kitty from eating them.
Get them their own plant!
Buy your cat a cat grass plant! These plants are quite safe for cats and are very easy to grow and maintain – both indoors and outdoors.
Cat grass is technically a type of cereal grain. You’ll sometimes see these plants referred to as wheat or oat grass.
Directing your cat towards their very own plant will hopefully detract them away from your plants.
You should keep in mind that a very common side effect of cat grass is vomiting. That’s because cat grass encourages a healthy digestive system and helps with furballs. It is also known to help with bad breath in cats.
As an added bonus if your cat particularly likes to eat grass it prevents them from eating the grass outside – where they could be exposed to possible chemicals and fertilizers.
But you do also need to be aware that your cat shouldn’t eat too much cat grass! Nibbling at it a few times a day is generally fine, but if they are eating large quantities often it can lead to possible intestinal blockages – which can then lead to some serious health issues.
Put Them In A Separate Room
Keeping your cats out of a room with your plants is a great place to start.
Maybe you don’t allow your cats in the bedroom – so you can possibly keep a few in there. Just use extra caution to keep your door closed – your cat will do everything they can to get into the area they are “banned” from.
Or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a closed off sun porch to keep your plants on. And your cat out of.
Hang Them Up
Hanging your plants, or putting them up on a higher shelf is another way you can keep your plants away from your cats.
You should be aware – if you’re not already – that cats love to climb. And it’s entirely possible they will try their best to climb up and eat your plants.
Make sure to place or hang your plants in areas impossible for your cats to get to.
Cage Them In
Get some mesh wire or similar type of caging to place your plants in or around.
This is an option quite a few people use outside their home – to keep deer, stray cats, and other animals out of their garden. It can work inside the home as well if you have space.
However, much like with putting your plants up on a high shelf or hanging them – cats will do their best to try to get inside the caging or mesh fence and eat your plants.
So, this option is only a good one if you know you have secured your plants properly and your cat has no way of getting to them.
Use Cayenne Pepper
Cats hate cayenne pepper so sprinkling some around the area of the plant, or even directly on the plant, shouldn’t harm the plant, but will likely do a great job of keeping your cat away from it – and certainly from not chewing on the leaves.
Use Other Common Kitchen Ingredients
If you don’t like the smell or the idea of having cayenne pepper on your plants there are a few other ingredients you will likely already have in your kitchen you can use.
Cinnamon powder and oils from citrus fruits have strong scents and will very likely repel your cat.
With any of these powders, you can make a spray containing the spice or drops of juice and water and spray it gently on your plants and surrounding areas.
Vinegar is another ingredient that cats tend to shy away from and can be mixed in a spray bottle to repel them.
You may want to double check to see if any of these mixtures actually repel your cat before you rely on it to keep your cat away from your poisonous plants.
Water Or Alarms
Sometimes just a spray of water, or the threat of a spray of water, is enough to keep your cat out of your plants.
You can keep a spray bottle nearby and spray them every time you approach – but chances are they will just try again when you’re not around.
There are some devices on the market you can buy which have motion detectors and will spray water, or sound a shrill alarm when your cat – or anything else – get into range. These are generally best for outdoors, but you can consider it for inside if you have a sunroom or other appropriate area.
Buy Only Safer Plants
Cats shouldn’t be encouraged to eat any plant – even if it is considered a safer choice for cats. But having safer plants around your house allows you to worry a little less.
Remember you also don’t want to have added fertilizers and chemicals in the plants you have.
Again, you shouldn’t encourage your cats to eat these plants, as they can still cause some stomach issues if ingested, these plants typically won’t lead to any major health issues and are considered a safer choice to own if you have cats who like to nipple on plants and flowers.
This is not a full list, as there are luckily a number of house plants relatively safe for cats. But here are a few common types you can feel comfortable buying.
Even if you only buy or grow plants considered safe for cats – there’s still a high chance your cat can get a stomach-ache or other unpleasant side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, and lack of appetite for a day or two from eating them.
So, it’s still not a great idea to encourage your cat to eat these plants – they just are considered a safer choice for cats – and likely won’t cause any life altering effects.
As I’ve said before this list is not an exhaustive list of house plants or flowers toxic to cats, just the more common types. So, you may be considering buying a plant you’re not sure about.
Your best resource is to talk to your veterinarian. He or she will likely have a reference book or be able to locate the answer for you.
Another valuable resource you can use is the ASPCA website, which has a pretty extensive list of toxic plants to cats.