Plants that can Make Your Cat Sick and Ones that are Safe for Your Feline Friend

Posted on
September 4, 2020
a gray cat sitting outside
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Cats are curious creatures that are able to climb and jump onto areas where you may be housing plants that are pretty or decorative, but are actually toxic to your feline friend. Make sure to know which plants are poisonous to your cat, including the especially toxic lily. Some common plants that are toxic to cats will be discussed in this article, as well as how to best avoid them and what to do if your cat happens to come across them. The following will be discussed in this article.

  • 10 common plants that are toxic for cats
  • How to best avoid toxic plants and find plants that are cat friendly
  • What to do if your cat comes across or ingests toxic plants
Cat hiding behind a basket
Cats have a way of finding their way into plants that are in and around the house, so make sure they are safe for cats.

10 Common plants that are toxic for cats

Avoid having these plants in and around your house

There are a variety of plants that are toxic to your cat. Make sure you know these plants and steer clear of them when decorating your house both inside and out. 

  1. Autumn crocus is poisonous to cats, dogs, and horses, but it is especially toxic to cats because of its alkaloid colchicine content. All parts of the plant are toxic. If your cat eats any part of the plant, symptoms can include gastrointestinal problems such as drooling, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, breathing difficulties, seizures, kidney and liver damage, and even death. These symptoms may appear shortly after ingestion or take days to appear.
  2. Azaleas and rhododendrons are related species that are both toxic to cats. All parts of the plants are toxic even if a small amount is ingested due to the toxin known as grayanotoxins. Symptoms of ingestion include gastrointestinal problems such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite, heart arrhythmias, weakness, tremors, transient blindness, seizures, coma, and death. 
  3. Cyclamen, or Persian flower and sowbread, are a plant often kept indoors. All parts of the plant are toxic due to the toxic component saponins throughout, but the tubers and roots are the most toxic. Signs of poisoning from a small amount are drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. If large amounts are ingested, your cat may experience abnormal heart rate and rhythm, seizures and death.
  4. Narcissus, including daffodils, are spring perennials. All parts of the plant contain the toxin lycorine, but the bulbs are the most toxic. Lycorine causes drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Sometimes, cats can experience cardiac arrhythmias, extremely low blood pressure, breathing difficulties and convulsions from ingesting plants that are Narcissus. 
  5. Dieffenbachia is a common house plant that contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, a substance that causes mouth irritation such as burning, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. While it is not generally deadly, it can cause pain and extreme discomfort for your cat.
  6. Kalanchoe is a flowering houseplant. All parts of the plant contain toxins called bufadienolides, which generally cause gastrointestinal signs including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. It is rare, but if a cat ingests a large amount of this plant, they might experience more severe symptoms, including heart arrhythmias, collapse and seizures.
  7. Lilies are particularly toxic to cats. Certain species are the most dangerous to cats, including Asiatic lilies, Easter lilies, Japanese show lilies, rubrum lilies, stargazer lilies, red lilies, tiger lilies, Western lilies, wood lilies, and daylilies. If a cat chews on even one or two petals or leaves, ingesting a small amount of the toxin in the plant, it can cause death.
  8. Oleander is a popular flowering plant in warm climates. It contains cardiac glycoside toxins which affects the heart muscle in negative ways. Symptoms include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, tremors, seizures and fatal heart abnormalities. All parts of the plant are toxic, including the water if the flowers are put in a vase.
  9. Sago palms are often kept as house plants, and all parts are toxic to cats. The most toxic part of the plant are the seeds, which can be deadly. The toxin cycasin in the plant causes severe liver damage. Other symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, black, tarry-looking stool, bruising, increased thirst, lethargy, liver failure, and death.
  10. Tulips and hyacinths are part of the same family, and both are related to lilies. Tulips contain tulipalin A and tulipalin B and hyacinths contain possibly narcissus-like alkaloids. All parts of the plants and flowers contain the dangerous toxins, but are most concentrated in the bulbs. Symptoms can include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, depression and tremors.

Orange and white cat walking in plants
Whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat, make sure to have safe plants so it isn’t interacting with unsafe ones that are toxic to its health.

How to best avoid toxic plants and find plants that are cat friendly

Keeping your cat away from toxic plants can be tricky, so make sure you avoid those plants to be safe

If you have plants around your house such as azaleas or rhododendrons, make sure you keep your cat away from them, and don’t bring clippings or blooms into the house.

If there are pretty houseplants that you love but are toxic to cats, and you have recently gotten a feline friend, shift to plants that are cat friendly.

Avoid planting those flowers that you are attached to but pose a health threat to your feline friend. Also, make sure gardeners use an abundance of caution when planting those plants that are toxic to cats.

There are many cat friendly plants, such as hibiscus, Christmas cactus, and blue globe thistle.

Cat looking up at leaves
If all of the precautions still lead to trouble of your cat ingesting a toxic plant, follow these necessary steps to make sure it is safe.

What to do if your cat ingests toxic plants

Take both precautions as well as these necessary steps to avoid further problems

If your cat comes in contact with or ingests a lily, call your veterinarian or poison control immediately. It could be the difference between life and death.

If your cat comes in contact with any part of the sago palm, seek immediate treatment. The prognosis for survival is only 50 percent with even the most quick, aggressive treatment.

Seek immediate medical care if your cat comes in contact with poisonous plants, as it will lead to the best possible outcome for your feline friend.

It is best to find a happy medium between the plants that are safe for your cat and those that will decorate your house. Follow the guidelines for which plants are toxic for your cat and you and your feline friend will be much happier that way! 

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Posted on
September 4, 2020

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