Is English Ivy Toxic to Cats?: Everything You Need to Know About Cats and Ivy Plants

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is English Ivy toxic to cats?

Is English ivy toxic to cats? Although English ivy is not as dangerous as some other plants, it can still make your cat very sick. As a cat owner, you should be aware of the plants that are poisonous to your pet. 

English ivy can make your cat very sick if he ingests the leaves or stems of the plant. When deciding on houseplants or choosing what to grow in your garden, its best to avoid toxic plants. Even if you don’t have pets, there may be cats in your neighborhood that use your garden. Completely avoiding poisonous plants can help keep pets and young children safe.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the symptoms of English ivy poisoning in cats and how to treat them. We’ll also provide some tips on how to keep your cat safe from English ivy and other poisonous plants.

What is ivy? How to identify ivy?

Ivy is an evergreen climbing vine native to Eurasia. It is a popular indoor as ornamental plants, as well as climb vines which are grown outdoors. Mature plants can reach up to 9m (30 feet) in height and are often found climbing high buildings.

English ivy is sometimes referred to as branching ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy, glacier ivy, or even California Ivy, depending on where you live in the world. In the UK, it’s simply called Ivy. The plant has the scientific name hedera helix and is part of the Araliaceae botanical family.

Related Article: Which Plants Are Toxic to Cats? 

  • English ivy is the most commonly found ivy species, and they are spreading worldwide. The plants have lobed leaves and produce berry-like fruit during the fall and winter.

You may know the plant by one of its other common names:

  • Branching ivy
  • Needlepoint ivy
  • Sweetheart ivy
  • Glacier ivy
  • California Ivy

Is English Ivy Toxic to Cats?

Is ivy toxic to cats
Is English ivy toxic to cats? Yes, but it doesn't taste very nice so most cats wouldn't eat ivy. However you should be aware of the potential risks and symptoms.

Although many people think that all plants are safe for cats, this is not the case. In fact, certain indoor and outdoor plants can be extremely toxic to your cat. If you have houseplants or landscaping in your yard, knowing which plants are poisonous could save your pet’s life!


What happens if a cat eats an ivy plant?

English ivy is toxic to cats and other pets, including dogs and horses, as it contains the toxic compound triterpenoid saponins (hederagenin). It can make your cat very sick and, in the worse cases, can even prove to be fatal. If your cat eats English ivy, it could experience some gastrointestinal discomfort. This can include vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and lethargy. 


Some cats who eat a small piece of English ivy may not experience any symptoms at all. If you notice that your cat is ill after eating the plant, immediately take him to the vet. Cats who have vomited or had diarrhea should still be taken to the vet so that they can be monitored for dehydration.

Symptoms may vary based upon the amount of ivy ingested and the age and health of your cat. Usually, cats don’t consume ivy as it has an unpleasant taste. 

The plants foliage is more toxic than the berries and can cause the following symptoms in cats:

  • Vomiting Abdominal pain
  • Hypersalivation  
  • It can affect the gastrointestinal tract leading to Diarrhea  
  • Loss of appetite    
  • Fatigue
  • Oral irritation and excessive drooling

How to Treat English Ivy Poisoning in Cats

If your cat is experiencing any symptoms above, it’s crucial to take him to the vet right away. The vet will likely ask you questions about when your cat ate the plant and how much he ate. The vet will then perform an examination and run some tests to determine the best course of action.

English ivy poisoning is easily treatable if caught early. However, it can cause severe problems for your cat if it isn’t treated immediately. If your cat eats English ivy, contact your vet for treatment as soon as possible.

What You Can Do to Prevent Your Cat from Eating Plants

One of the best things you can do to help your cat avoid English ivy poisoning is to keep him indoors. Cats who are allowed to roam are much more likely to come into contact with harmful plants. Obviously, cats like going outside, and the benefits of having time to play and exercise outdoors far outweigh the risks. As long as you are aware of the risks and are prepared by registering with a vet and investing in pet insurance, your cat’s chances of survival will dramatically increase.

Can cats be around ivy?

For the most part, it’s pretty easy to keep your cat safe from English ivy poisoning. Ensure you know what all of your plants are so you can avoid potentially life-threatening situations. If there are any poisonous plants in your home or yard, make sure you find and remove them. Do your research before bringing new plants home and only buy plants that are safe for pets.

What plants are toxic to cats and dogs?

The image below shows the most common poisonous plants to cats and dogs. When choosing a new house plant, its best to avoid the following plants:

the most toxic house plants to cats

Lacy tree philodendron

All philodendrons are toxic to cats, dogs, small pets, and livestock as they contain the toxic principles insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals can cause intense burning and swelling of the mouth, lips, and tongue. They may also cause difficulty breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Philodendrons are also toxic to humans if ingested, so they should be kept out of the reach of small children.

Potted lemon tree

Lemon trees (Citrus limonia) are toxic to cats, dogs, and to horses. The leaves, fruit, and flowers of lemon trees contain citric acid, the toxic component psoralens, and essential oils, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain in pets.

Other issues may develop in the long term after eating a piece of a lemon tree; your pet may suffer from depression or potential dermatitis.


Dieffenbachia is a popular houseplant that can affect cats, dogs, and horses if ingested. Also known as charming dieffenbachia, dumbcane, giant dumb cane, or tropic snow, this plant contains insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate and proteolytic enzyme, which are both toxic. Symptoms include intense burning and swelling of the mouth, lips, and tongue. They may also cause difficulty breathing, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.


Hyacinths are popular spring flowers that look beautiful and add color to your yard in the early spring. Though these plants look beautiful, they should be avoided as they are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. The bulbs of hyacinths contain the toxic principles narcissus-like alkaloids. Ingestion of just a few bites of a leaf or bulbs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain in pets. There may be blood present in the feces, and tremors and depression may develop.

Related article: Are daffodils toxic to cats?

Bird of paradise (strelitzia)

The bird of paradise is a popular tropical houseplant that’s also commonly called crane flower or bird’s tongue flower. It can affect cats and dogs if they consume even a tiny amount. The fruit and seeds of the plant are most toxic as they contain GI irritants. Ingestion of just a small amount of the plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, and abdominal pain in pets.

Aloe Vera

Aloe plants are popular for their healing properties, but they are highly toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. The leaves of aloe plants contain saponin and anthraquinones, which can cause vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Poinsettia (Christmas star)

The poinsettia is a popular Christmas flower that is poisonous to pets. The plant’s leaves and flowers contain a sap that irritates the mouth and lips. It can also affect the stomach causing irritation and sometimes vomiting.

Related article: Are poinsettia toxic to cats?

If you suspect your cat has eaten any of these plants, get them to the vet as soon as possible. Even if your cat doesn’t show any signs of poisoning, it’s always best to be safe and get them checked out. For more information on plant toxicity and what to do if your pet has eaten a poisonous plant, visit the ASPCA website .

Is English ivy toxic to cats?: Final thoughts

English ivy is toxic to cats and can make them very sick. If your cat eats English ivy, take him to the vet immediately.

Check out our plant guides for more information about plants that are toxic to cats. 

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