Plants That Are Poisonous To Cats

They’re unparalleled in their ability to add a touch of natural magic to our surroundings. Especially since they seem to come with this mysterious ability to soothe and beautify all at once. There’s also that immense satisfaction which comes from seeing that flower, shrub or tree come into its own after careful nurturing.

With all these amazing qualities and more, there can be no doubt that filling our gardens and homes with greenery and floral splashes of colour, can be especially rewarding. However, doing so does require being extremely careful particularly for those of us who happen to share our dwelling spaces with certain furry residents.

Especially since some of our very favourite flowers, shrubs and trees actually present a potent risk to our cats – and because the wellbeing and safety of our feline friends will always come first beauty, fragrance and freshness, notwithstanding.

Plants Poisonous To Cats

Below I’ve examined a number of plants which fall into this category. And it’s my belief that the tips and pointers provided below will prove as helpful to both first time cat owners and veterans, as they have to me in caring for and protecting my pet Persian.

Toxic Flowers To Cats

Blossoms are second to none when it comes to adding a cheery touch of colour and fragrance to our surroundings. And yet being a cat owner means knowing which variety must be kept from making it through your front door, or even your garden gate. The flowers below belong in this category:

  • Azaleas: The presence of this blossom on this list may not be surprising to gardening enthusiasts. Especially since it’s come down through history as being particularly infamous for its toxicity making even honey from its nectar unsafe for consumption. And it’s all due to the presence of chemicals known as grayanotoxins found throughout the plant which prevent the muscles from functioning properly. The ASPCA recommends looking out for the following symptoms: diarrhoea, cardiac problems, muscle weakness and vomiting.
  • Begonias: Unlike the first entry on the list, a wide variety of these blooms are actually rather edible and are an excellent source of vitamin C. But that’s for us humans. When it comes to our pets, they’re the exact opposite of wholesome and healthy owing to the presence of oxalate crystals which have a tendency to sneak into the tissues where they then morph into oxalic acid. According to Wagwalking this substance causes severe irritation which may lead to vomiting, drooling and even kidney failure.
  • Daffodils: Like azaleas, these flowers happen to be popular spring blossoms. What’s more, they’re actually associated with good fortune in cultures around the world. However, as shown in this post I wrote Are Daffodils Poisonous To Cats, the presence of a troublesome substance known as lycorine means they aren’t so lucky for cats. Although it’s mostly located in the bulb, a random nibble on any part of the plant will put your cat at risk. Symptoms of daffodil poisoning include: irregular breathing, shivering and vomiting.
  • Lilies: Our next entry happens to be a firm favourite and staple of the perfume industry.  It also comes in a variety of delightful hues combined with its very own floral star power that’s pretty hard to beat. However, this elegant blossom is actually one of the most dangerous flowers for domestic felines. According to Pet MD, a couple of leaves are sufficient to provoke grave consequences within 72 hours if no immediate action is taken, due to kidney failure. Symptoms to look out for include: drooling, dehydration, vomiting, decreased appetite, increased urination (although urination will cease within 48 hours).
  • Tulips: Once upon a time, these flowers were the priciest on the globe and actually caused an economic crisis when their market suffered a sudden and unexpected crash. Today, they still remain highly popular in spite of their diminished star status. They also come with their very own herbivore repellent known as tulipalin. It’s the presence of this fast-acting toxic substance which makes them rather dangerous for your pet cat especially since it’s capable of causing liver damage. According to Pet Poison Helpline symptoms of tulip poisoning include: increased heart and respiratory rates, nausea, breathing problems,  diarrhoea and vomiting.

Toxic Shrubs And Trees To Cats

The members of this category seem to come with a guarantee of transforming any space they’re placed into a spread worthy of a glossy magazine. And yet the hazard they pose to felines means those of us who are cat owners will have to search further afield in our quest to fill our homes with nature’s verdant allure.

  • English Ivy: The mere presence of this crawling plant is sufficient to bestow a delightfully rustic feel on both homes and gardens thanks to its ability to carpet their walls with its heart-shaped leaves. However, this pretty vine which incidentally happens to be known by many names also contains sap which causes irritation when it comes in contact with skin. According to ASPCA, this is due to the presence of saponins which also irritate the throat and intestines when ingested causing drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. As noted above, English ivy is known by several other names and these include: needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy, branching ivy and Californian ivy.
  • Sago Palm: They’re those adorable mini palm trees which are extremely popular for their ability to bestow a sunny tropical ambience on any space they’re placed in. However, they’re one decorative feature which must be consistently absent from any cat owner’s home or garden. That’s because they contain a potent toxin known as cycasin in their leaves, trunks and roots. According to Pet Poison Helpline, the seeds of sago palms are particularly dangerous since they contain the highest concentration of the substance. Symptoms of sago palm poisoning include: jaundice, bruising, tremors, bleeding, paralysis and diarrhoea.
  • Yew: The fact that grazing cattle are known to avoid this tree says it all. Somehow they seem to know that every part of it comes with an abundance of toxins; its seed coverings are actually the only exception. However, it’s the particularly dangerous taxine which deserves a special mention due to the fact that it’s extremely fast-acting and potentially lethal to cats. The symptoms of ingestion include: changes in breathing patterns (the pet will breathe more rapidly), seizures, weakness, vomiting and coma.

What To Do In The Event Of Ingestion

Although keeping the plants mentioned above away from your immediate environment is an all essential step which must be taken to protect your pet cat, being able to anticipate the unexpected and act accordingly will ensure you’re prepared if your cat does happen to nibble on a dangerous flower or shrub.

Pet MD recommends removing every residue from its fur and even giving the pet a bath if necessary. The website also recommends taking a sample of the plant with you and heading for the vet at once.

As mentioned at several points above, common symptoms of plant poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating
  • Weakness
  • Changes in eating or drinking habits.

Acting promptly once you realise your cat has indulged in a potentially dangerous snack is the best course of action. Waiting for symptoms to manifest will only put the pet further at risk. If there’s even the slightest bit of suspicion that your cat has taken a mouthful – or more – of a plant which might turn out to be harmful, it’s best to take the pet to your vet right away.

And even if the plant happens to be unavailable, you could take a sample of your cat’s vomit if it has thrown up as doing so may come in handy in enabling the vet to promptly diagnose your cat.

Safe Plants Cats Can Nibble On

So what plants are safe for cats? With all the information warning us about dangerous plants, it’s a perfectly natural question to ask. And the good news is that you don’t have to give up on your love of greenery entirely due to the presence of your furry friend. Especially since there are several varieties of plants which are safe for them and perfect for nibbling on too.

The plants mentioned below are not only 100% cat-friendly but are also ideal for adding a touch of freshness and radiance to your surroundings, in the way only flora can.

  • African violets
  • Christmas cactus
  • Hibiscus plants
  • Parlor palms
  • Spider plants – a firm favourite among cats who love to nibble its leaves.

I hope you’ve found this post interesting and helpful. How do you deal with plants and cats in the same household? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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