Fri, Jan 13, 23
If you are a cat parent, you’ve likely seen your furry friend take a nibble out of a leaf or a blade of grass. Although eating non-toxic plants is common in cats and dogs, eating certain plants can be very dangerous. Most common plants and flowers are poisonous to cats, but it can be difficult to determine dangerous plants from safe plants.
That said, it’s important for cat owners to know what indoor plants you should keep away from your feline at all costs and what plants are safe to be around. This article will take a close look at the 13 most common toxic plants for cats and some plants that are safe to have around your four-legged friend.
Peace Lilies and Other Lily Varieties
All types of lilies are poisonous to cats, a fact that many pet owners are surprised to learn. This includes Easter lilies, Japanese show lilies, Asiatic lilies, rubrum lilies, red lilies, tiger lilies, lily of the valley, Western lilies, stargazer lilies, and daylilies.
Consuming lilies can cause acute and potentially fatal kidney failure in your cat. The smallest amount of exposure to the pollen, flower, or leaves of a lily can be harmful to your feline.
Another plant that can be harmful to your cat is the autumn crocus, a common flowering plant that blooms in the autumn. This plant is a member of the lily family, and you might have heard it referred to as the naked lady or meadow saffron.
Given that the autumn crocus contains the alkaloid colchicine, they are poisonous to cats. Consuming any part of the plant may cause your cat to experience severe gastrointestinal problems. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, seizures, breathing difficulties, or liver damage.
What makes these flowers so dangerous is that your cat may exhibit symptoms immediately after consumption or several days later. It is also poisonous to dogs and horses.
Also known as Persian violet or sowbread, cyclamen is the name of a group of 20 types of perennial flowering plants. Usually, cyclamen plants are kept indoors and boast bright, pink flowers when they bloom.
Every part of the cyclamen plant is poisonous to cats, but the tubers and roots are the most toxic. Your cat may experience drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting if they ingest a small amount of cyclamen.
Ingesting a large amount of cyclamen can lead to seizures, an abnormal heart rate, and death in the most severe cases. For this reason, cat parents should avoid keeping this type of plant inside.
Azaleas and Rhododendrons
Azaleas and rhododendrons are also highly toxic for your feline. These plants are related and can be either flowering shrubs or small trees. There are over 1,000 species of plants in this family which vary in toxicity level due to the number of grayanotoxins in each specific species.
All parts of the plant, including the stem, leaves, and flowers are poisonous. It can take as few as three leaves to have a severe effect on your four-legged friends.
Some signs that your cat has consumed azalea or rhododendron include loss of appetite, digestive problems, drooling, weakness, and loss of coordination. In the most intense cases, they may also experience leg paralysis and a weakened heart rate.
You likely know the plants in the Narcissus family, even if you don’t know their genus name. Daffodils make up the majority of this family. These flowers tend to bloom in the spring and are popular in bouquets. The entirety of the plant is poisonous for cats, but the bulbs are the most dangerous because they contain the most lycorine.
Lycorine is the poisonous agent in daffodils that can cause vomiting, drooling, digestive issues, and abdominal pain in cats. In very severe cases, consuming daffodils may cause your cat to experience low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, convulsions, or cardiac issues.
Many people are drawn to kalanchoes because they are beautiful flowering houseplants that do not require a lot of work. They are also known as the devil’s backbone, mother-of-millions, mother-in-law plant, and chandelier plant.
The poisonous agent found in kalanchoes is called bufadienolides and is toxic for cats. The entire plant is dangerous for your four-legged friend and can cause gastrointestinal issues. In some extreme cases, more serious symptoms, such as collapse and seizures can arise.
Dieffenbachia is a common house plant that is part of a family of tropical flowering plants. It is known for its two-tone leaves that are usually a dark forest green on the perimeter and along the veins and a lighter green on the face of the leaf. This plant is also known as dumb cane, giant dumb cane, spotted dumb cane, exotica perfection, and tropic snow.
Although this houseplant may look beautiful, it contains calcium oxalate crystals which can cause extreme pain and discomfort when ingested by your feline. Usually, when cats nibble dieffenbachia, they experience oral irritation such as drooling, burning in the mouth, difficulty eating or drinking, and vomiting. Even though it is not normally deadly, eating dieffenbachia can be a very painful experience for your cat.
Anyone who lives in a warm, dry climate knows that it can be hard to make your garden flourish which is why oleanders are such a desirable plant. They are durable, low-maintenance, and beautiful, making them a first choice for many gardeners, especially in warm climates. However, they are extremely toxic to cats, so much so that when put in a vase, the water becomes toxic as well.
Oleanders are poisonous for cats because they contain cardiac glycoside toxins, which can negatively impact your cat’s heart muscle. Like many poisonous plants, ingesting oleanders by felines can cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, more severe symptoms such as tremors, seizures, and heart abnormalities can also occur when cats eat oleanders.
Originally found in tropical areas, sago palms are beautiful fern-like plants that are often kept as house plants because they are relatively easy to care for and bring a bit of the tropics home. However, all parts of the sago palm are toxic to cats. The most toxic part of the plant is the seeds because they contain the highest concentration of cycasin.
Cycasin is a toxin that can cause liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, black stool, bruising, lethargy, increased thirst, and death. Given the severity of the symptoms associated with sago palm poisoning, if you have any concerns that your cat has ingested any part of the plant, it is advisable to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Tulip and Hyacinth
Tulips and hyacinths are some of the most popular flowers for gardens and bouquets, and both belong to the family Liliaceae. However, the bulbs of these plants are extremely toxic for cats. Although all parts of the plant can be dangerous for your furry friend, the bulbs contain the most tulipalin, the toxin found in tulips.
Hyacinths contain toxins similar to those in daffodils. The signs of poisoning from these flowers include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors.
Like tulips and hyacinths, asparagus ferns are a member of the lily family and are, therefore, toxic for felines. Also known as emerald fern, plumosa fern, lace fern, and emerald feather, this delicate fern can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal issues for your cat due to the toxin sapogenin.
The philodendron family of houseplants includes some of the most popular fern-like plants, including fiddle leaves, swiss cheese plants, and heart leaves. These plants are all somewhat toxic for cats due to the calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves.
Much like dieffenbachia, philodendrons can irritate the mouth and your cat’s digestive symptoms. The oral irritation may be so intense that your cat’s mouth begins to excessively water or bleed. Your feline may also vomit to rid their body of the toxins.
More Poisonous Plants
Although the plants listed above are the most popular and toxic plants for your four-legged friend to ingest, several more plants that can be harmful to your cat. Some more of the plants that can be harmful to your cat include:
- American Holly
- Bird of Paradise
- Calla Lily
- Jade Plant
- English Ivy
- Saddle Leaf
- Snake Plant
- Spider Plant
Are Any Plants Safe and Non-Toxic for Cats?
At this point, you may be worried that you can never keep a live plant again in your home for as long as your feline friend is around. Although several common houseplants are toxic for cats, some are safe for your cat and completely non-toxic. Some of the plants that are safe to have in your home with your feline include:
- African Violets
- Money Tree
- Boston Fern
- Swedish Ivy
- African Violets
What Should I Do If My Cat Ingests Some of a Poisonous Plant?
If you think your cat has ingested any part of a poisonous plant, the best course of action is to contact your veterinarian or a poison control hotline as soon as possible. Your feline may be in danger if they nibble, lick, or chew any part of the plant, including the leaves, flowers, and stems.
You can help the veterinarian or medical professional treat your four-legged friend by taking a photo of the plant or bringing it to the office with you when you bring your cat for treatment. The vet will likely want to know what type of plant your cat has been exposed to and how much time has passed since the exposure.
Of course, many cats stay at home while their pet parents go to work. If you come home and your feline is exhibiting signs of poisoning, but you are unsure of what plant is the culprit, you should still bring them to the vet.
It can be relaxing and fun to fill your house with beautiful, luscious house plants. However, if you are a cat parent, think carefully about what plants you can safely have around.
If you’re ever unsure whether a plant is harmful to your four-legged friend, it’s always best to check with your plant before bringing it home.