A lot of people have started home gardening as a hobby, and plants poisonous to cats should be distinguished clearly to avoid poisoning your cats.
Whether you nurture your plants in your yard or indoors, you’ll want to keep some plants and flowers away from your cats. The toxicity of these plants and flowers can range from mild to severe, depending on the plant’s toxic component.
Cats are curious in nature, thus there’s an unfortunate saying “Curiosity killed the cat.” They will always want to explore and nibble on things which include any plants. However, since cats love to explore, it is difficult to keep plants out of their reach. Cats are great climbers, so it is best to place your plants in a high and safe unreachable location.
If you want to take care of plants in your home or in your yard, you need to identify which plants are poisonous to cats. If you don’t recognize a plant, it is best to remove that unidentified plant from your home.
In this article, we will be finding out which houseplants are poisonous to cats. If your cat has ingested something toxic, we will also be listing down first aid steps to take care of before rushing to your veterinarian.
Table of Contents
What are Toxins and Poisons For Your Cat?
Before we list down the most common poisonous plants for your cat, we have to list down the most common toxic substances that can be found in your household and how you can treat your cat if accidentally ingested.
Medicine and Drugs for Humans
A tablet of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) can result in serious toxicity to cats which can be fatal. Cats have a liking towards the taste of certain antidepressants, due to the alluring smell and flavor of the tablet casing.
How to avoid this?
- Keep all medications and prescriptions in a secured and unreachable location, such as a medicine cabinet that can be closed.
- In case of accidental ingestion, reach out to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Take note of the ingested medication and bring the bottle/container if possible
Permethrin, sold under the brand name Nix, is a medication and insecticide commonly found in a dog’s flea-control products.
A significant number of cases of cat poisoning come from permethrins. This usually occurs when cats come into physical contact with dogs that got recently applied with a flea-control product.
How to avoid this?
- If you also take care of dogs, it is a good practice to give your dog his private area where they can stay, and relax until the permethrin subdues.
- Keep all cat and dog bathing products in a safe and stored location.
Insecticides and Pesticides
Exposure to insecticides and pesticides usually occurs when your cats walk on an area, such as a garden and yard, that got recently sprayed with garden products, powders, or granules.
These substances are highly toxic to cats and if accidentally ingested, can cause drooling, tremors, and fatal seizures.
How to avoid this?
- Always ask your veterinarian which flea-control solutions are safe to use.
Common household cleaners are made of large amounts of chemicals that can cause poisoning to your cats and dogs. These include laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, carpet cleaner, and aerosol cleaning spray.
How to avoid this?
- While you’re cleaning and using these household cleaning products, it is best to keep your dog relaxing in a safe and comfortable area.
- Make sure to keep these products out of your dog’s reach and remove any excess after cleaning.
- In case of accidental physical contact, reach out to your veterinarian immediately.
Other Potential Poisons
These other common household items that contain chemical compounds that can be toxic to your cat:
- Glow sticks and jewelry typically contain a bitter-tasting substance called a dibutyl phthalate that can cause your cat to drool excessively.
- Due to their curiosity among candlelights, cats are often exposed to potpourri oils by spilling the containers all over themselves. Since cats are known to be self-groomers, licking and ingesting these oils can be harmful.
- Antifreeze or engine coolant poisoning usually happens when pets lick the spill off the ground. For cats, as little as a few drops can be fatal.
How to avoid this?
- Make sure to keep these products out of your cat’s reach and remove any excess after cleaning.
- In case of accidental contact, reach out to your veterinarian immediately.
10 Common Plants Poisonous to Cats
It is better safe than sorry, so here is a list of plants that are poisonous to cats, which rounds up the varieties you and your cat are most likely to encounter.
1. Sago Palm
One of the most popular ornamental indoor house plants, especially in the tropical regions, is a Sago palm (Cycas revoluta), also known as cardboard palm, cycads, and zamias.
The main toxic chemical found on sago palm is cycasin, which can cause severe liver damage when ingested. All parts of a Sago palm are poisonous, but the seeds contain the most concentration of cycasin.
Watch out for these symptoms in your cat if they accidentally ingested sago palm: vomiting and diarrhea, black colored stool, bruising, lethargy, and increased thirst.
If you suspect that your cat has ingested any part of a sago palm, reach out to your veterinarian immediately. Keep in mind that even with quick veterinary treatment, the likelihood of survival is only 50 percent.
Oleander (Nerium oleander), also called a Rosebay, is a common outdoor flowering plant in warm areas. This plant contains cardiac glycoside toxins, which when ingested, can extremely weaken the heart muscle.
When ingested, cats may show symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, seizures, diarrhea, and worse, lethal heart abnormalities. All parts of oleander are toxic, as a matter of fact, even the water in the vase of this plant.
It is safest not to take care of an oleander plant due to the potency of its toxins that can also affect humans.
Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe spp.), also known as mother-in-law plant, chandelier plant, and devil’s backbone plant is a flowering house plant that contains harmful toxins called bufadienolides which may cause gastrointestinal abnormalities such as diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling when ingested.
Severe symptoms including heart arrhythmias and seizures can also be experienced if ingested in larger quantities. For guaranteed safety, it is best not to keep a kalanchoe plant at home if you own a cat.
4. Tulip and Hyacinth
Tulips (Tulipa spp) and hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis) are flowering plants that can usually be found in bouquets and gardens. They are both parts of the Liliaceae family, which also includes the life-threatening lily species.
Tulips contain harmful compounds tulipalin A and tulipalin B, while hyacinth contains narcissus-like alkaloids, according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Although all parts of the tulip and hyacinth contain dangerous compounds, they are found mainly in the bulbs. If you suspect that your cat ingested tulip and hyacinth, look out for the following signs: drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and tremors.
5. Autumn Crocus
Autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), otherwise called meadow saffron or naked lady, is a common flowering plant that is poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses. It’s particularly toxic to cats because it has alkaloid colchicine content, which is highly poisonous.
Cats that ingest an autumn crocus show symptoms of abnormalities in their digestive tract such as drooling, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea, breathing difficulties, seizures, kidney and liver damage, and even death. Symptoms may show immediately after consumption or could take a couple of days to show up.
There are plenty of plants containing the word lily, making it unclear to choose which specific lily plant can be taken care of without harming your cat. The following specific species dangerous to cats:
- Asiatic lilies
- Easter lilies
- Japanese show lilies
- rubrum lilies
- stargazer lilies
- red lilies
- tiger lilies
- Western lilies
- wood lilies
When ingested by cats, even the tiniest bit of any part of the lilies on this list is enough to be fatal. Even licking pollen from the flowers or drinking the water from the vase can be lethal for cats.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you ever suspect that your cat may have come into contact with a lily. It is best not to keep lilies in the house for your cat’s safety.
Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp.), otherwise called Persian violet and sowbread, is a genus of more than 20 species of flowering plants that are often kept indoors. It contains a toxic compound called saponin, which can be found in all parts of the plant, but mostly concentrated in the tubers and the roots.
Symptoms of cyclamen ingestion poisoning include drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. If a cat ingests large quantities of a cyclamen plant, it can experience an abnormal heart rate and rhythm, seizures, which can be fatal.
It is not recommended to keep this plant as a house plant to ensure your cat’s safety.
Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), also called a paperwhite, jonquil, and Narcissus is a flowering plant that contains a poisonous compound, lycorine.
Lycorine is mostly concentrated on the plant’s bulb and can cause drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. In worse cases, felines who ingest daffodils experience cardiac arrhythmias, severe low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, and convulsions which can be fatal in the long run.
9. Azaleas and Rhododendrons
Azaleas and rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) are species of ornamental plants and toxic shrubs. There are about 1,000 species in this family of plants, and the degree of toxicity to cats varies from moderate to severe. The toxic component present in azaleas and rhododendrons is grayanotoxins.
Symptoms of azalea or rhododendron poisoning include gastrointestinal abnormalities such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. In extreme cases, cats can experience heart arrhythmias, weakness, tremors, transient blindness, seizures, coma, and possible death.
Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp.) is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the Araceae family. It is alternatively known as the charming dieffenbachia, exotica perfection, giant dumb cane, dumb cane, spotted dumb cane, gold dieffenbachia, and tropic snow.
Dieffenbachia contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate your cat’s mouth and digestive tract. Other signs include drooling, vomiting, and difficulty in swallowing.
Although exposure to dieffenbachia is not life-threatening, it can be painful and extremely uncomfortable for cats.
When it comes to adorning your house with the help of plants, it is best to consider your cat as well. A beautiful flowering plant will be worthless if it can cause harm to your furbaby.
There are a lot more plants that can be harmful to your pets so before getting one, be sure to do research. There are a lot of safe and non-toxic plants to choose from but your cat is irreplaceable.