- Tulips & Hyacinths
- An A to Z of pet poisons – flowers, plants and trees
- Acers (sycamore/maple) – poisonous to horses
- Aloe Vera – poisonous to cats and dogs
- Amaryllis – poisonous to guinea pigs, cats and dogs
- Arum Lily – See Begonia
- Azalea – poisonous to all pets
- Begonia – poisonous to rabbits, birds, cats and dogs
- Blue-Green Algae – poisonous to all pets
- Bracken – poisonous to horses
- Buttercup – poisonous to all pets
- Carnation – poisonous to rabbits, cats and dogs
- Chrysanthemum – poisonous to all pets
- Crocus – poisonous to all pets
- Cyclamen – poisonous to guinea pigs, cats and dogs
- Daffodil – poisonous to guinea pigs, cats, dogs and horses
- Delphinium – See Buttercup
- Hemlock – poisonous to all pets
- Horse Chestnut – poisonous to all pets
- Hyacinth – poisonous to all pets
- Hydrangea – poisonous to all pets
- Ivy – poisonous to all pets
- Lily – poisonous to all pets – especially cats
- Mistletoe – poisonous to rabbits, horses, cats and dogs
- Mushrooms – poisonous to cats and dogs
- Nightshades – See Tomatoes (See page on A to Z: Food)
- Poinsettia – poisonous to all pets
- Ragwort – poisonous to all pets
- Rhododendron – See Azalea
- Spider lily- See Amaryllis
- Yew – poisonous to all pets
- 25 Common Plants Poisonous to Cats
- What You Should Do
- How to Keep Cats Out of Plants
- Is Your Cat Covered?
- Poisonous Plants Terminology
- Plant Toxicity
- Why Are Some Plants More Poisonous Than Others?
- Symptoms of poisoning in cats
- Poisonous Plants for Cats
- Are orchids poisonous to cats?
- Are tulips poisonous to cats?
- Are roses poisonous to cats?
- Are lilies poisonous to cats?
- Are succulents poisonous to cats?
- Are hydrangeas poisonous to cats?
- Are poinsettias poisonous to cats?
- Are daffodils poisonous to cats?
- Are ferns poisonous to cats?
- Are mums poisonous to cats?
- Is ivy poisonous to cats?
- Are geraniums poisonous to cats?
- Is aloe poisonous to cats?
- Are daisies poisonous to cats?
- Are hyacinths poisonous to cats?
- Is baby’s breath poisonous to cats?
- Are peonies poisonous to cats?
- Are azaleas poisonous to cats?
- Are philodendrons poisonous to cats?
- Are begonias poisonous to cats?
- Are spider plants toxic to cats?
- Is marijuana toxic to cats?
- Is mistletoe toxic to cats?
- Are snake plants toxic to cats?
- Toxic Fertilizers, Pesticides and Herbicides
- Cat Friendly Plants
- What To Do If You Suspect Poisoning
- Free Updates For Cat Lovers!
- Further Reading & References
- Your Amazing Cat!
- The Most Common Poisonous Plants to Cats
- Plants That Are Poisonous to Cats
- Signs of Ingestion
- What to Do If Your Cat Ingests a Poisonous Plant
- Poison Prevention
Tulips & Hyacinths
Both hyacinths and tulips belong to the Liliaceae family, and contain allergenic lactones or similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), and when ingested in large amounts, can result in severe clinical signs. Severe poisoning from hyacinth or tulip poisoning is often seen when dogs dig up freshly planted bulbs or having access to a large bag of them. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhea, depending on the amount consumed. With large ingestions, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate, changes in respiration, and difficulty breathing may be seen.
If you suspect your dog has ingested hyacinths or tulips (particularly the bulbs), contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.
Common signs to watch for:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased respiratory rate
- Difficulty breathing
An A to Z of pet poisons – flowers, plants and trees
There are a number of flowers plants and trees that are extremely toxic to your pet, some of the more common, and/or toxic are highlighted below. If you believe that your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t have, always seek your vet’s advice and, if attending the veterinary surgery, take a sample of the substance with you, just in case you are unsure of its content or species.
Acers (sycamore/maple) – poisonous to horses
The toxic nature of Acers is a recent discovery and so its action is still being discussed. However, it is thought that it is the seeds are toxic since its effect is usually reported towards the end of autumn when they are falling from the trees, although the leaves are also toxic.
The seeds and leaves contain a substance that causes atypical myopathy in horses, symptoms of which include laminitis, colic, muscle tremors, sweating, high heart rate, discoloured urine (reddish in colour) and abortion in pregnant mares. Deaths have been reported within 18 hours or as long as 7-10 days after ingestion.
Aloe Vera – poisonous to cats and dogs
Aloe vera is not only found in gardens but is used by humans for a wide variety of reasons, including so it is not surprising that our pets are regularly found to have ingested it. Depending upon the amount consumed by your pet Aloe Vera can cause significant gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, diarrhoea, change in urine colour and, rarely, muscle tremors.
Amaryllis – poisonous to guinea pigs, cats and dogs
The Amaryllis plant is type of lily but it affects animals in a similar way to the flowers in the Narcissus group (e.g. Daffodils). The plant contains a substance that can cause vomiting, a drop in blood pressure and breathing problems. If the animal ingests the bulb of the plant, they will experience symptoms such as excess salivation and abdominal discomfort. Ingestion of larger amounts of the plant can cause paralysis and even death.
Arum Lily – See Begonia
NB – The Arum Lily does NOT cause in acute kidney failure when ingested, and is therefore different from more dangerous types of lilies such as the Easter lily, Day Lily and Tiger lilies.
Azalea – poisonous to all pets
The Azalea is a species of Rhododendron, all of the plant is toxic to animals as well as humans, but less so than a true Rhododendron. However, this, of course, depends upon the amount ingested as well as the size of the animal.
Consumption of a small amount of the plant can cause gastrointestinal issues (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite), cardiovascular issues (e.g., abnormal heart rate and heart palpitations), and central nervous system problems (e.g., depression, tremors, temporary blindness, seizures, and coma.) Symptoms persist for around 2 days, after which depending up the severity of the poisoning and whether they have received treatment, the animal may die.
Begonia – poisonous to rabbits, birds, cats and dogs
There are over 1,500 species of Begonia most of which are toxic All of the plant will irritate your pet; however, the tubers are the most toxic. They contain a substance that causes crystals to form in their organs causing an acute allergic reaction.
If your pet has ingested a part of the plant you will see some or all of the following symptoms; oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. Due to the nature of the irritation, most pets will stop eating the plant before they consume sufficient quantities to cause severe damage.
Blue-Green Algae – poisonous to all pets
Blue-green algae is a naturally occurring organism in fresh, brackish and salt water – usually slow moving or still bodies of water – throughout the UK which increases (“blooms”) in warmer weather. Some species of the algae are harmless, while others can be highly toxic. As a result, if you suspect that a body of water has the algae in it always consider as potentially toxic and discourage your pet from drinking or swimming in it. In some cases a few mouthfuls of algae-contaminated water, may result in fatal poisoning.
Since there are a number of species of algae that can be toxic, the effects can be just as varied. Known symptoms of toxic ingestion have included vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weakness, tremors, convulsions and coma, and slow-onset liver or kidney damage. Treatment will depend upon the symptoms, and your pet should be seen by a vet as soon as possible, since prognosis is very often poor.
Bracken – poisonous to horses
The fern when eaten causes Vitamin B1 to be destroyed and changed in the horse’s body. This leads to a deficiency of the vitamin, vital for an effective metabolism and nervous system. Clinical signs will after 1 or 2 months of chronic ingestion, which then worsen. These effects include weight loss, a loss of co-ordination or staggering (known as the “bracken staggers”) and a rapid, weak pulse. In extreme cases, the horse may have difficulty in getting up after rest and develop severe muscular tremors prior to death, which might occur within 2 days if not treated quickly. Fortunately, this type of poisoning is rare since it takes so long for the toxic effects to accumulate and it is unusual for bracken to be the only forage available.
Buttercup – poisonous to all pets
All animals are susceptible to buttercup poisoning, however it is more likely to be grazing animals such as horses that will be badly affected. As a rule, animals will avoid eating the plant because of its bitter taste but in overgrazed pasture, horses may eat them in the absence of other forage.
The plants contain a chemical called ranunculin, which turns into the toxin protoanemonin when chewed or crushed. The toxin causes blisters in the oral cavity and digestive tract and occasionally vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive drooling and weakness. It may also cause contact dermatitis on horses’ hooves and lower limbs if present in their pasture in sufficient amounts.
Animals that do ingest a significant amount will experience colic, tremors, bloody urine and diarrhoea, and occasionally seizures and paralysis.It is unlikely to be fatal but caution is advised. Dried buttercups in hay or those that have been frozen after a frost are no longer toxic.
Carnation – poisonous to rabbits, cats and dogs
Carnations are not particularly dangerous to your pet but since they are a very popular plant in bouquets, it is worth mentioning their effects when eaten. It is not known why they are toxic to pets but they will cause mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive drooling. In addition, if the animal’s skin comes into contact with the plant they may develop contact dermatitis.
Chrysanthemum – poisonous to all pets
All parts of chrysanthemum are potentially toxic to dogs, cats, horses and other mammals. Depending upon the amount ingested and the size of the animal symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivating, contact dermatitis and coordination problems. In cats, you may also see ear flicking, paw shaking and contractions or twitching of the skin.
Symptoms will occur within a couple of hours of ingestion or, even just coming into contact with the plant. Pyrethrins, the active substance in many flea and tick products for dogs, can be extracted from the plant so if you have an animal that is sensitive to this type of medication you may want to avoid adding the plant to your garden and, if possible, bringing them into the house, just in case.
Crocus – poisonous to all pets
There are two types of Crocus plants: one that blooms in the spring (Crocus species) and the other in the autumn (Colchicum autumnale). The latter is the only species native to the United Kingdom and is much more toxic.
All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause severe gastrointestinal issues including drooling, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, and bloody diarrhoea), and multiple organ failure, including liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure, and even death. Symptoms following ingestion may occur immediately, but can also appear several days later.
Cyclamen – poisonous to guinea pigs, cats and dogs
Commonly sold in supermarkets or garden centres because they are very easy to look after, as a result they are popularly found both indoors as well as outside. Unfortunately, they are toxic if consumed by pets, and can be fatal in some cases.
Once ingested can result in drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. If a large amount of the plant is ingested, particularly the tubers, cardiac problems (e.g., abnormal heart rate and rhythm), seizures and death may occur.
Daffodil – poisonous to guinea pigs, cats, dogs and horses
These plants contain lycorine, a substance that has strong emetic properties (i.e. causes vomiting). All parts of the plant are toxic but the bulb has the highest concentration of lycorine. Depending upon the quantity ingested, symptoms include severe oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and even cardiac or respiratory problems.
In large ingestions, the animal may suffer from convulsions, slip into unconsciousness and die. As a result, veterinary assistance should be sought as soon as possible.
Delphinium – See Buttercup
Hemlock – poisonous to all pets
Hemlock is often misidentified as Cow Parsley, which, although having a slightly unpleasant flavour is not toxic. Hemlock however is highly toxic when eaten and increases in toxicity as the plant matures. It is found in fields and is characterised by long stems that grow to over 6 ft. tall, with small clusters of white flowers. If eaten, the plant causes a fast acting poison that causes death fairly quickly. Typical symptoms of hemlock poisoning, which occur within minutes of ingestion, include excessive salivation, diarrhoea, muscle weakness and tremors, and disorientation. Consciousness is lost just before the death of the poisoned individual.
Horse Chestnut – poisonous to all pets
Every part of the horse chestnut tree contains toxic properties, including the leaves and bark, as well as the “conkers”. However, they have a sharp, bitter taste, which tends to limit the amount consumed, as a result, toxicity is rare and the majority of cases a severe gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) is the only reaction.
As with most toxins, the more consumed the more severe the clinical signs, thus, if an animal consumes a larger amount symptoms such as a lack of coordination, muscle spasms, colic in horses, inflammation of the mucous membranes, and muscle weakness may appear. Occasionally, an animal may become paralysed and then fall into unconsciousness which may lead to coma or death. However, this is very rare and treated animals usually survive.
Hyacinth – poisonous to all pets
Some varieties of hyacinth, including Summer Hyacinth, Wild Hyacinth, and Grape Hyacinth are not toxic, however, Hyacinthus orientalis, can be fatal if consumed. All parts of the hyacinth are poisonous but the bulbs contain the highest concentrations of the toxins, so when ingested in large amounts can result in severe symptoms.
Severe poisonings occur more often in dogs than other pets because they may dig up freshly planted bulbs. Symptoms include contact dermatitis, irritation to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Other signs of ingestion include excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhoea. If your pet has consumed a large amount of the plant, you will see symptoms such as an increase in heart and respiratory rate, difficulty breathing, and convulsions in felines. In rare cases, consumption has led to the death of an animal; as a result, if you suspect that your pet has eaten some of the plant seek veterinary assistance straight away
Hydrangea – poisonous to all pets
Hydrangea leaves and flowers are highly toxic, they contain cyanogenic glycosides, more commonly known as cyanide. It is unlikely that your pet will consume enough of the plant to be fatal, instead, you are more likely to see gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea (which may be bloody), together with lethargy and depression, and colic in horses.
Symptoms usually appear within 15 to 20 minutes; as a result, more severe poisonings as a consequence of large consumption is rare. However, if you suspect that your pet has eaten some of the plant seek veterinary assistance straight away
Ivy – poisonous to all pets
Ivy, variously known as Branching, California, Common, and English, Glacier, Irish, Needlepoint, and Sweetheart ivy contains a substance that is poisonous to all pets. While the whole of the plant is poisonous, the leaves and berries are the most toxic part of the plant.
While the plant tastes bitter and therefore not likely to be eaten to excess by an animal, it is likely to cause contact dermatitis, drooling, gastrointestinal upset (colic in horses), diarrhoea, and vomiting if it is consumed.
If larger amounts of the plant are consumed, the animal may display symptoms of hyperactivity, breathing difficulties, fever, muscular weakness, and a lack of coordination. In severe cases coma may follow. As a result, if you suspect that your pet has eaten some of the plant seek veterinary assistance straight away
Lily – poisonous to all pets – especially cats
All parts of the lily are poisonous to cats, and even the most minor of exposures, such as getting pollen on their whiskers or coat or drinking the water from a vase, which the flowers have been in) can be fatal. If your cat ingests some of the plant or its sap it is vital that they receive veterinary attention as soon as possible since irreversible damage to the kidneys can happen within hours. According to research, lilies are consistently the most frequently reported causes of fatal poisonings in cats.
The first signs of toxicity may mimic grape and antifreeze toxicity, symptoms of which include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy. These may develop hours later but can also occur minutes after ingestion. Other symptoms include poor appetite, as well as excess salivation. As the toxicity progresses you will notice increased urination – a sign that the kidneys are failing – followed by an absence of urination, which appears to be the point of no return. It signals that they are experiencing kidney failure and signposts that the animal may soon die. Evidence suggests that cats treated 18 hours or longer after ingestion tend to have a very poor prognosis. As a result, it is vital that you seek veterinary care as soon as symptoms are observed.
It is important to recognise that not all lilies are true lilies, and so may not be as poisonous as you might expect. Thus, plants which are dangerous belong to the species Lilium or Hemerocallis and include Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese Show, rubrum, stargazer, red, Western, and wood lilies. Other plants with ‘lily’ in the name, such as the peace lily or lily-of-the-valley do not affect animals in the same way as those from the Lilium and Hemerocallis family. The lily-of-the-valley, for example affects the heart rather than the kidneys.
Mistletoe – poisonous to rabbits, horses, cats and dogs
There are several types of mistletoe including American Mistletoe and European Mistletoe, both of which are used as decoration at Christmas and both are poisonous to pets whether fresh or dried. The former is less toxic than the latter however; in general, symptoms of ingestion include gastrointestinal irritation (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain).
When ingested in large amounts, your pet might show signs of an abnormal heart rate, breathing problems, erratic behaviour and hallucinations. If enough is ingested it could be deadly. As a result, it is vital that you keep the plant away from your pets and you seek veterinary care as soon as symptoms are observed.
Mushrooms – poisonous to cats and dogs
While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity the remaining 1% are highly toxic and may cause life-threatening symptoms.
Not only do the kinds of toxins vary with species, mushroom toxins affect dogs and cats differently, As a result the signs and symptoms will vary just as widely. Symptoms could be anything from vomiting and diarrhoea to a fatal multiple organ failure. Thus, if you see your pet eat a mushroom you should seek veterinary care as soon as symptoms are observed.
Nightshades – See Tomatoes (See page on A to Z: Food)
Poinsettia – poisonous to all pets
The poinsettia plant is only mildly toxic and its effect has been grossly over stated. In fact, large amounts of the plant need to be ingested for even mild toxic signs to develop. Signs of ingestion include vomiting, drooling, and, rarely, diarrhoea; there may also be contact dermatitis and occasionally mild conjunctivitis. Generally speaking, your pet won’t need to be treated if they have consumed or come into contact with the plant unless the signs are severe.
Ragwort – poisonous to all pets
Ragwort is poisonous to all mammals, however, it is unlikely to be eaten by anything other than a horse and then, only if there is no other forage available to them. When the plant is eaten, it has a toxic effect on the liver, which can be immediate or cumulative. As a result, your horse could show the same symptoms if they have eaten a large quantity in one go or small amounts of the plant over a long period.
The plant has a bitter taste, which increases as the plant matures, however, some horses do develop a taste for it and it becomes more palatable when it is cut and dried. As a result, it is recommended that you keep ragwort from all available pasture and, when you have removed it, destroy it or take it away from site in case it becomes mixed in with their feed.
There are often no outward signs that an animal has been affected by ragwort poisoning and they may not appear for around 6 months after ingestion, so symptoms often appear to be sudden. Symptoms may also be precipitated by other stresses – pregnancy, lactation or poor nutrition, for example – so can be confused with other medical issues. These signs include loss of appetite, diarrhoea, photo-sensitivity, and jaundice. Secondary symptoms of liver failure include neurological problems – aimless walking, head pressing, chewing motions – and usually indicate that there is a terminal prognosis.
Rhododendron – See Azalea
Spider lily- See Amaryllis
Yew – poisonous to all pets
Yew is widely associated with death since it has historically been used as a symbol perpetual life by pagans and Christians alike, and so is planted in burial sites. Perhaps it is not a coincidence then that yew is also highly toxic to all animals, including humans.
All parts of the shrub are toxic – although the berries (but not the seeds within) are harmless – and very little is required to cause a fatality. Thus, it could be possible for a dog ingest a lethal dose while playing with a yew branch!
The effects are also rapid, there have been reports of animals collapsing and dying within 15 minutes of ingestion. Symptoms of yew toxicity are diarrhoea, vomiting, tremors and convulsions, dilated pupils and difficulty breathing and heart failure. However, the toxin is so quick some symptoms will be skipped; indeed animals have been found beneath yew trees having died with twigs or leaves in their mouth!If you suspect that your pet has ingested some of this plan call your veterinarian immediately as this is an emergency!
25 Common Plants Poisonous to Cats
Cats can be very sensitive to certain kinds of plants and, in some cases, just a small nibble can cause big problems. If you have a cat, it’s important to make sure you keep potentially harmful plants like these away from your whiskered friend.
- Autumn Crocus
- Azalea — Avoid bringing a bunch of these beautiful flowers inside your home
- Bird of Paradise
- Calla Lily
- Dieffenbachia — You might know this plant as Dumb Cane or Leopard Lily
- Dracaena — These decorative plants are also called “female dragon” and are toxic to cats
- Honeysuckle — These flowers have a sweet smell that can be tempting for cats
- Lilies (all Lilium species, such as Easter Lilies)
- Lily of the Valley
- Morning Glory
- Pothos — This green and leafy houseplant is easy to care for but can make your cat sick
- Sago Palm
- Tulip — These are lovely in the spring around Easter time, but harmful to your cat
This list is not comprehensive by any means, but you can find a more extensive list of plants that are toxic to cats (as well as dogs and horses) posted by the ASPCA® Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).
The symptoms can vary depending on the type of plant and how much your cat has eaten. They can range from a minor tummy ache to serious kidney failure, and can even result in death. These are some of the more common signs that your cat has eaten something poisonous:
- Inflammation around the mouth
- Difficulty breathing, which can be caused by inflammation that blocks air passages
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive drinking and urination, which can occur when the kidneys are impacted by the toxic substance
- Rapid heart rate
Toxic plants can also cause skin irritation or itchiness, so you may notice your cat pawing at their mouth and face. In addition, your cat could show behavioral signs that something is wrong, such as irritability or depression.
Find out about other common household items that can be dangerous to your cat at 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet.
What You Should Do
If you think your cat has ingested something poisonous, contact a veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) right away. The APCC is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 888-426-4435 to help with emergencies involving poisoned pets. A $65 consultation fee may apply when you call, but a portion of that is covered if you have an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan.
The APCC is staffed with trained experts who have experience handling more than 2 million cases. They also have access to an extensive database, which helps them assess the situation and give treatment recommendations quickly. Plus, they are able to work with your veterinarian or an emergency hospital if your cat needs hands on treatment.
Keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to try to treat your cat without professional advice, for instance, by attempting to induce vomiting. You could risk injuring your cat or yourself. Even the friendliest of kitties can bite or scratch when they’re scared or in pain. Also, do your best to remain calm, which can help your cat do the same.
Treatment for poisoning will depend on the substance your cat has ingested. It could include:
- Administering fluid therapy
- Inducing vomiting
- Pumping the stomach
- Providing medications to control symptoms such as muscle tremors or seizures
These treatments can get expensive, but they can also save your cat’s life. If you have an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan, you can get reimbursed for these costs. Pet insurance can help you focus on what’s best for your cat in an emergency with less worry about the price of care.
The best way to prevent your cat from eating a toxic plant is to make sure there aren’t any around your home. You can use our list as a starting point, but you should also check the list of plants that are toxic to cats posted by the APCC.
In addition, you should be careful to check any floral bouquets before displaying them in your home. They often contain Baby’s Breath, which can cause tummy issues as well as other potentially dangerous flowers, such as Calla Lilies, Daffodils, Irises, Lilium, or Tulips. You can simply take out the problematic flowers before setting the bouquet in a vase. You should also know that the little packet of fertilizer you get with many flower arrangements is toxic to cats. If you add it to the vase and your cat laps it up, it can cause issues like drooling and stomach upset.
Remember too that all cats should be kept indoors as recommended by the ASPCA®. This helps keep them safe from eating harmful plants, getting injured, or catching contagious diseases from other animals. Plus, it helps keep small wildlife safe from cats who might prey on them.
12 Non-toxic Plant Alternatives
Just because you have a cat doesn’t mean you can’t have a little greenery around your home. There are plenty of plants that you can use to decorate that won’t cause problems for your cat, including:
- African Violet
- Areca Palm
- Baby Rubber Plant
- Ball Fern
- Boston Fern
- Christmas Cactus
- Rose—Be sure to remove the thorns since they can injure a curious cat
- Spider Plant
- Variegated Wax Plant
Want more options? Check out this list of cat-safe plants from the APCC or check out their free app!
How to Keep Cats Out of Plants
There’s no way to ensure your cat won’t nibble on your plants, so you should eliminate any toxic ones from your home. If you decide to have a few non-toxic plants around, these tips can help you keep your cat from making a mess of them.
- Place large rocks in the pot – The rocks can add a decorative effect and help keep your cat from tipping the plant over or digging in the dirt.
- Spritz plants with a store bought repellant – You can purchase a spray bottle of safe cat repellant online or at your local pet store.
- Add orange peels to the soil – Cats typically don’t like the smell or taste of citrus, so adding fresh peels can help keep your kitty at bay.
- Put plants out of paws reach – This can be tricky since cats tend to find a way to get at anything when they put their mind to it. Even high mantles or shelves can be problematic. Placing plants up high can tempt your cat to take a big jump and get hurt. However, if you have a safe room that your cat can’t enter, it might be a good place for plants.
If you like the look of plants around your home, but can’t seem to keep your cat out of them, you can always consider using silk or plastic ones.
Is Your Cat Covered?
It’s not uncommon for cat parents to think that their whiskered companions don’t need pet insurance. But you never know when your cat might nibble on a toxic plant, suffer an injury in the home, or get sick with anything from a common cold or skin problem to something more serious, like diabetes or cancer. Get a free quote for your cat today and start coverage tomorrow!
In Poisonous Plants For Cats we bring you an in-depth guide to plants that your cat should not eat.
Helping you to keep your cat safe from harm.
If there is a specific plant you want to know about, then you can use the jump links on the menu here to get your answer straight away.
Despite their carnivorous diets, cats frequently munch on greenery around the house and yard.
Whether your cat enjoys digging in your potted plants, snacking on your petunias, or shredding your succulents, you need to know about plants poisonous to cats so that you can protect your feline from harm.
Poisonous Plants Terminology
The internet is a great resource for information about pet poisons, but there are a few terms that can get confusing, especially the difference between poisons and toxins.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “the term toxin refers to a poison produced by a biological source (eg, venoms, plant toxins).”
Toxicity, which is often used in place of the term poisonous or poisoning, actually refers to the amount of toxin required to cause problems in an animal, and is important for figuring out your cat’s risk levels.
Things get a little more confusing once you add in terms like toxicosis, poisoning, and intoxication, but the good news here is that these terms all essentially mean the same thing.
These terms refer to the disease that the toxin produces.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “poisoning occurs when a toxic substance is swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed after coming in contact with the skin, eyes, or mucous membranes.”
Exposure to a toxic plant can have sudden negative effects, or it can take a little while for your cat to start to show symptoms of poisoning.
For some plants, exposure to a small amount of the toxin is harmless
While others can be fatal.
It all depends on the plant’s toxicity.
The best way to determine if your cat has consumed a toxic dose of a poisonous plant is to call your veterinarian.
Your cat’s age, size, and the plant species all determine the toxicity level, and your veterinarian is much better equipped to calculate those levels than the average owner.
Why Are Some Plants More Poisonous Than Others?
Certain animal species are more sensitive to some toxins than others.
Humans, for example, love chocolate, but dogs are very sensitive to the methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine in cocoa, making chocolate much more toxic to dogs than it is to us.
Like dogs, cats are more sensitive to some plant toxins than others, especially lilies, which is why some plants pose a much higher threat than others.
This is also why some plants are toxic to cats but not to dogs, so do not assume that dog friendly plants are cat friendly plants, too.
Each cat is also unique. Just because your neighbor’s cat ate an entire bouquet of lilies and escaped unharmed does not mean that your cat will be as lucky, so play it safe and call your vet.
Symptoms of poisoning in cats
When your indoor cat sabotages your windowsill herb garden, most owners notice. It is a lot more difficult to tell if your outdoor cat has consumed a poisonous plant.
Knowing the symptoms of plant poisoning in cats can help.
Any major physical or behavioral change is a cause for concern, and worth giving your veterinarian a call about.
Symptoms of poisoning in cats can range widely, but Christine Bellessa, DVM, the former co-director of the Cornell Feline Health Center at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, warns that the most common symptoms of poisoning in cats are an unsteady gait, drooling, sluggishness, heavy breathing, diarrhea, and vomiting.
How well do you know your cat? Discover the secret world of cats.
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The Pet Poison Helpline advises owners to watch out for the following, broader range of symptoms of poisoning in cats:
- Change in appetite
- Coughing or vomiting blood
- Pale mucous membranes (ie, gums)
- Racing heart rate
- Breath that smells like urine
- Change in frequency of drinking and urination
- Black, tarry stool
- Yellow discoloration to gums or coat
- Change in behavior
Poisonous Plants for Cats
The Merck Veterinary Manual and the ASPCA provide comprehensive lists of poisonous houseplants and ornamentals that affect cats.
Searching through databases can be time consuming, however, so here are some of the most commonly asked questions about plants that are poisonous for cats.
Are orchids poisonous to cats?
Orchids. Fragile, infamously difficult to care for, and one of the most rewarding tropical blooms, are not toxic to cats.
However, as any cat lover who has tried to grow orchids is aware, cats pose a serious threat to the plants and enjoy batting at the blooms once they finally emerge.
Are tulips poisonous to cats?
Tulips, a beloved snack of local deer, contain toxins in their bulbs that lead to GI upset in cats and other animals.
If your cat gets into the bulb sack, watch out for signs of poisoning like vomiting, diarrhea, hyper-salivation and depression.
Are roses poisonous to cats?
Roses are not toxic to cats, but these classic beauties do carry another threat – thorns.
If your cat likes to chew on plant stems, make sure to examine her mouth for signs of puncture wounds or scratches if she makes a move on your roses.
Are lilies poisonous to cats?
Lilies are poisonous to cats.
Scientists are not exactly sure which toxin causes problems, but they do know that all parts of the plant can lead to dangerous levels of toxicity.
Most of the Liliaceae family is toxic to cats, and can result in symptoms including vomiting, depression, and loss of appetite within a few hours.
Untreated, lily poisoning can lead to fatal kidney failure.
Are succulents poisonous to cats?
Succulents are a broad type of plant that contains several toxic family members and a few non-toxic.
Snake plant, desert rose, Barbados aloe, spider plant, and kalanchoe are all toxic to cats, but the popular Christmas cactus plants and many others are not.
Are hydrangeas poisonous to cats?
Hydrangeas, with their large, full heads and broad leaves offer cats a shady respite from the summer sun.
They can also cause vomiting, depression, and diarrhea at toxic doses but are rarely fatal if consumed.
Are poinsettias poisonous to cats?
The holiday season is a dangerous time for pets. Poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower, is toxic to cats but not fatal.
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Consumption of the plant usually causes irritation to mucous membranes, excessive salivation, and vomiting.
Your veterinarian can help keep your cat comfortable and hydrated until the toxin leaves their system, and can even help expel it if the poisoning is caught in time.
Are daffodils poisonous to cats?
Daffodil bulbs are poisonous to cats. Cats usually only show symptoms of poison if large doses of the bulb are ingested, which leads to vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalances, and discomfort in your cat’s abdominal area.
Daffodil poisoning usually resolves on its own, but you should call your veterinarian to monitor your cat’s condition.
Are ferns poisonous to cats?
There are quite a few species of ferns. Most of them are cat friendly, but some are not.
Boston fern, a popular house plant, is non-toxic to cats, as is Maidenhair and bird’s nest, but Asparagus fern, which is not technically a true fern, is mildly toxic.
The best way to determine whether a fern is safe is to research the variety, and when in doubt, play it safe.
Are mums poisonous to cats?
Chrysanthemums, also known as mums or daisies, are toxic to cats.
They can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, hyper-salivation, and skin irritation in cats.
Is ivy poisonous to cats?
Ivy and cats both enjoy climbing, but despite their similarities, the two should not mix. Regardless of whether you call it Common ivy, English ivy, or Canary ivy, try to prevent your cat from eating berries or leaves.
Luckily, it takes a large amount of ivy to make your cat sick, but watch out for signs of GI upset, like diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Are geraniums poisonous to cats?
Geraniums are a commonly potted plant with a pleasing number of color options.
Cats, however, should be kept away from these plants, as consumption of geraniums can cause anorexia, depression, vomiting, and skin irritation.
Is aloe poisonous to cats?
Aloe is toxic to cats.
Both American aloe (Agave Americana), also known as century plant, and Barbados or Curacao aloe (Aloe barbadensis) can cause toxic reactions.
Are daisies poisonous to cats?
There is a little confusion amid the daisies. Daisies, also called chrysanthemum or mums, are toxic to cats, and cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss in coordination, skin irritation, and hyper-salivation.
The Gerber daisy (Gerbera jamesonii), on the other hand, is non-toxic to cats and considered a safe plant by the ASPCA.
Are hyacinths poisonous to cats?
Your cat isn’t necessarily likely to dig up your hyacinth bulbs, but cat owners who like to grow hyacinths need to store the bulbs securely, as they are toxic to cats.
Eating a toxic dose of hyacinth bulb can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and in rare cases, death.
Is baby’s breath poisonous to cats?
Baby’s breath is a staple filler flower in many bouquets, but despite its innocent name, it poses dangers to your cat and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
Are peonies poisonous to cats?
Peonies, with their beautiful, full blooms, offer up a tempting snack for curious pets.
Peonies are toxic to cats, and ingestion of the plant can lead to depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Are azaleas poisonous to cats?
Azaleas, also known as rhododendron, are a lovely addition to your garden but highly toxic to cats.
All parts of the plants contain the toxin, including the pollen and nectar, and the toxic dose (1 g/kg of body weight) causes salivation, weeping, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, convulsions, coma, and death.
Are philodendrons poisonous to cats?
There are several types of philodendrons, and all of them are toxic to cats.
The entire plant contains the active toxin, and eating the plant leads to immediate pain and irritation of the mucous membranes, along with hyper-salivation, swollen tongue, renal failure, excitability, spasms, convulsions, and occasionally encephalitis.
Are begonias poisonous to cats?
The ASPCA lists all species of begonias as toxic to cats and dogs, and consumption can lead to oral irritation, hyper-salivation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
Begonias tubers are the most toxic part of the plant.
Are spider plants toxic to cats?
Spider plants, with their long, reaching leaves, make tempting play things for bored cats, especially since they are frequently hung in baskets.
Spider plant ingestion is not fatal, but it can cause salivation, vomiting, retching, and anorexia.
Is marijuana toxic to cats?
Marijuana, whether used medicinally or recreationally, is toxic to cats at certain doses.
Toxic exposure leads to vomiting, wobbly gait, depression, change in heart rate, salivation, excitability, and hypothermia.
Marijuana toxicity can cause death.
Is mistletoe toxic to cats?
Kiss your loved one beneath the mistletoe, but keep it out of reach of your cats.
Consumption of toxic doses of mistletoe can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, shock, and death within a few hours.
Are snake plants toxic to cats?
Snake plants, also called Mother-in-law’s tongue, are toxic to cats and can cause vomiting, salivation, diarrhea, and hemolysis when taken in a toxic dose.
Toxic Fertilizers, Pesticides and Herbicides
Poisonous plants aren’t the only thing cat loving gardeners have to worry about.
Fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides can also pose health risks for your feline, so make sure you follow the manufacturers precautions when applying these chemicals and do not use chemicals that are toxic to cats in your home or garden.
Cat Friendly Plants
Now that you know about the plants that are toxic to cats, you may be wondering about what plants you should have around the house and garden.
There are plenty of cat friendly plants to choose from, and here are a few to get you started on your search.
- Baby Rubber Plant
- Baby’s Tears
- Ball fern
- Boston fern
- California pitcher plant
- Lady slipper
- Lemon balm
- Umbrella plant
What To Do If You Suspect Poisoning
Some toxins are fast acting, others slow, but no matter what kind of poisonous plant your cat eats, the first thing you should do is call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital for advice.
Your speedy response may be the difference between life and death for your cat.
Gardening with cats can be tricky, but avoiding these toxic plants can help keep your feline happy, healthy, and safe.
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The Most Common Poisonous Plants to Cats
Decorating with plants and flowers is a great way to beautify your home, but some of your favorite foliage can be toxic to your feline friend. Before adding new greenery to your home or garden, read up on poisonous plants to cats so that you can keep your kitty safe.
Plants That Are Poisonous to Cats
From houseplants to garden plants, including vegetables and herbs, here is just a selection of plants and flowers toxic to cats:
1. Lilies: People tend to use “lily” as an all-encompassing term, but there are about 90 species in all, including the Asiatic lily, Easter lily and lily of the valley. What do they have in common other than a name? They’re all poisonous plants to cats. In fact, they’re one of the most toxic plants for your feline friend; ingestion can lead to immediate kidney failure.
2. Eucalyptus: Though rich in fiber, eucalyptus isn’t part of a healthy diet — the leaves are toxic to most animals, except koalas and a few wild bird species.
3. Jade: Succulents, like jade, are the perfect option for those who don’t have a green thumb because they’re low-maintenance and beautiful. Unfortunately, jade is also one of several succulents that are poisonous to cats.
4. Milkweed: Planting milkweed in gardens has become a popular way to support monarch butterfly populations. However, the fruit of the milkweed plant is toxic to both wildlife and humans.
5. Onion: Onions are a staple of dinner tables around the globe, especially in China and India, the top two onion-producing countries. But onions, as well as garlic, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots, are toxic to many animals, including cats and dogs.
6. Tomato: The fruit of the tomato is harmless to your kitty, but its stem and leaves can be toxic. Add this to your list of people food not to give your cat.
7. Daffodils: These popular springtime annuals, with their deep yellow and white coloring, look terrific bunched together. But don’t let their beauty deceive you. According to a study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, daffodil flowers, leaves and bulbs can all be poisonous to cats.
8. Hyacinths: Sweet-smelling hyacinth flowers are native to the eastern Mediterranean. Close relatives include water hyacinths, native to Texas, and the tulip. Despite their beauty, these bulb flowers contain alkaloids that can be dangerous for your kitty.
9. Mistletoe: The practice of kissing under the mistletoe dates back to the 18th century. For cats, though, these plants don’t lead to everlasting love but to serious health issues, including cardiovascular shutdown. Other holiday plants, like amaryllis, also pose problems for your cat’s health and should be kept out of the house.
10. Mandrake: The flowering mandrake shrub originated in the Mediterranean region and has had a mythical reputation for centuries. But its toxicity isn’t just folklore: The mandrake root is highly poisonous to cats (and to humans).
11. Azaleas: Part of the rhododendron family, an azalea is a small, deciduous species in which the whole plant can be considered poisonous to a cat that may involve gastrointestinal, cardiovascular or central nervous system issues, says the Pet Poison Helpline.
Other common plants that are toxic to cats include:
- Croton (Joseph’s Coat)
- Caladium (Elephant Ear)
- Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
- Ficus (rubber plants, weeping and variegated fig plants)
- Monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant)
- Christmas Cherry
- Holly Berries
Toxicity can vary based on the type of plant and how much is ingested. For instance, poinsettias, common during holiday seasons, have a mild toxicity to cats, however for certain cats or certain amounts of consumption can result in severe enough clinical signs worthy of medical treatment. If you’re curious about getting a new plant for the home, but want to know if it is poisonous to your cat, the Pet Poison Helpline is a good resource to check against numerous types of plants.
Signs of Ingestion
Every plant toxin can cause a different reaction. For example, if your cat eats a plant in the onion family, it could harm your kitty’s red blood cells and cause anemia, leading to weakness, reduced appetite and pale gums. If your cat consumes a jade plant, they might vomit or seem uncoordinated, according to the ASPCA.
While side effects differ depending on the specific plant, there are common signs of poisoning you can watch out for, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive licking or scratching
Unless you catch your cat in the act, you may not know they’ve ingested toxic plant material. If your kitty exhibits any of these signs for an unknown reason and has access to plants or flowers poisonous to cats, contact your veterinarian right away.
What to Do If Your Cat Ingests a Poisonous Plant
If you suspect your cat has ingested poisonous plants, call your vet immediately. If your vet isn’t available, call a pet poison control center. Keep these phone numbers handy in the event of an emergency.
Unless a pet health professional tells you to do so, don’t try to induce vomiting in your cat, emphasizes Vets Now — in some cases, it can be more dangerous for them to vomit whatever they consumed than to leave the toxin in their stomach. Always follow the vet’s specific instructions.
At the veterinary clinic, the vet will perform an exam and any blood tests required to diagnose the poisoning and determine the treatment.
Keeping your indoor kitty safe from poisonous plants to cats is fairly easy — don’t bring toxic plants into your home, even if it means declining a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.
It gets a little trickier for outdoor cats, but there are ways you can reduce the chance of accidental ingestion. International Cat Care recommends that you remove the most dangerous plants from your garden and check if there are any potentially toxic plants in your neighbors’ gardens. In the event that your cat gets sick, you’ll be able to share the likely culprits with your vet, which will allow them to better determine the cause of poisoning and the proper treatment.
Before sprucing up your home with fresh flowers and greenery, do some research and speak with your vet to ensure that your choices don’t include poisonous plants to cats. There are plenty of safe options, like African violets, jasmine and begonias, that are eye-catching and safe for your feline friend.
Christine O’Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.