If you’re bringing a new feline friend into your home, it’s natural to wonder what plants are poisonous to cats. Unfortunately, some of the plants that are toxic to cats are very popular – you might already have some of them. You won’t want to get rid of your favorite plant, but at the same time, you don’t want your pet to be harmed. Maybe you can find that plant a good home with a friend or a family member who doesn’t have pets.
Here’s a look at some common plants that can be toxic to a cat, as well as some information on what to do if your beloved pet gets hold of one.
Common Plants That Are Toxic To Cats
Even though the flowers of many plants are incredibly beautiful, they can hide dangers that can result in serious health problems for cats and other animals.
This is a partial list of plants that are toxic to cats. If you have a plant at home that isn’t on this list, talk to your veterinarian and see if you need to remove it.
Azaleas And Rhododendrons
You’ll find these plants in yards across the country because they’re so attractive. Unfortunately, every part of the azalea and rhododendron is toxic when ingested. Substances within the plants, known as grayanotoxins, can cause irregular heart rate, vomiting, seizures, and other issues if ingested by your cat. If you think your kitty has been exposed, it’s time for a prompt trip to the vet for medical attention.1
The dieffenbachia, or “dumb cane,” is one of the more common houseplants, with distinctive, two-tone leaves. The problem with this plant is that it contains sharp crystals that can lead to irritation in the digestive tract and mouth. Thankfully, that’s usually the extent of the damage the dieffenbachia can do. In some rare instances, though, the crystals can cause a cat’s airway to expand, leading to trouble breathing.2
Like the dieffenbachia, the philodendron also has crystals that can result in throat and mouth irritation, as well as breathing problems (or more rare complications).3
How could this gorgeous, innocent plant possibly do harm to a cat? Easily. In fact, lilies are among the most toxic plants around. In severe instances, it can cause a cat’s kidneys to fail, and can also cause liver failure. Even the water that lilies sit in can have high levels of toxicity. Certain types of lilies aren’t as toxic, but they may still cause minor stomach and mouth irritation that go away relatively quickly. These include the Peace lily, Calla lily, and Peruvian lily.4
This vining plant is incredibly low maintenance, making it a great choice for people who might not exactly have a green thumb. However, if a cat should eat part of this houseplant, that could result in vomiting and mouth swelling. It may also burn their lips and mouth.5
Even though the last name of this plant is close to the word “delicious,” it’s anything but to a cat. This trendy, tropical plant is beautiful and easy to maintain. Unfortunately, it can cause a cat to drool if ingested, and can also burn their mouth and lead them to vomit.6
Any sort of palm will provide a touch of luxury to a home. Unfortunately, the sago palm is anything but friendly to your cat, thanks to a substance inside the plant known as cycasin that’s very toxic to cats. If ingested, it can lead to not only liver failure but severe damage to your cat’s gastrointestinal system that could prove fatal.7
The eucalyptus plant offers not only beauty but fragrance as well. It smells wonderful. But keep this plant away from your cat. If a cat ingests some of the leaves, they may experience GI issues, including a lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.8
The elephant’s ear, also known as the alocasia, is a stunningly beautiful plant — particularly for landscaping. The problem with this plant is that it also contains crystals that can result in mouth irritation and, potentially, swelling of a cat’s airway.9
The jade is known as a succulent, one of the more common plants found in homes across the US. It’s also incredibly toxic, leading to problems such as vomiting, a reduced heart rate (leading to lethargy), and reduced muscle functioning. Immediate medical attention will be needed, even if your cat has seemingly only ingested a small amount.10
This is a plant that doesn’t have stems, reaching a height of between two and four feet. It has nearly completely vertical leaves, as well as a fleshy texture. If your cat eats part of the plant, it can lead to mouth swelling, nausea, drooling, lethargy, and vomiting.11
Other Plants Toxic To Cats
- Asparagus Fern
- Autumn Crocus12,13
Signs Your Cat May Have Eaten A Poisonous Plant
As you can see, some plants have higher levels of toxicity than others. If you notice any of the following, there’s a chance your cat has eaten something poisonous.
- Redness or swelling of the mouth
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble swallowing
- Excessive drooling
- Urinating and/or drinking more than normal (which could be a sign of kidney failure)
- Irregular heart rate14
What To Do If Your Cat Ingests A Poisonous Plant
The first thing you need to do if you notice your cat chewing on a plant is to not panic.
If you do see your pet eating a plant and you’re not sure if it’s toxic, animal poison control can be found here. If you don’t know the name of the plant, describe it as closely as you can to the person who answers the phone.
Here are some other things to do.
- Gently take as much of the plant material out of your cat’s fur as possible, as well as the skin. If you have to, use some warm water and mild dish soap.
- If your cat is vomiting and you believe a trip to the vet is in order, take a sample of the vomit with you.
- Also, take a clipping of the plant to show the vet.15
Again, err on the side of caution. If you think your beloved feline has ingested a potentially dangerous plant, get them to your veterinarian’s office. If cats happen to eat especially toxic plants, fast action could very well save their life.
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