Are Roses Toxic to Cats? Everything You Need to Know About 7 Common Plants

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Are roses toxic to cats?

It’s no secret that roses are one of the most popular flowers in the world. But are roses toxic to cats? While most species of rose are safe to grow around cats, it’s worth being aware that roses have sharp thorns that could injure a cat.

There’s no question that cats are curious creatures. Cats love to explore their surroundings by sniffing, and some will even taste everything they come across. Many gardeners like to grow red roses, but are worried about their cat. In this blog post, we’ll look at the toxicity of roses and answer the question ‘are roses toxic to cats?’

Are roses toxic to cats?

Are roses toxic to cats? The short answer is no, but there are a few things you should be aware of when deciding whether to buy or grow roses in your home or flower bed.

There are several different types of rose which means there’s no clear-cut answer as to whether roses are toxic to cats or not. According to the ASPCA standard roses (Rosa Species from the Rosaceae family) that are commonly sold for Valentine’s day, aren’t harmful to pets. However, some dangers may be a concern; roses are grown using chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers to help them bloom and look great. These chemicals improve the appearance and number of blooms a plant produces but can be toxic to animals if consumed.

If your cat has suffered adverse reactions from eating a piece of rose, it may be due to chemicals used to grow the flowers rather than from toxic compounds in the plants. That being said, most commercially grown roses won’t retain enough chemicals to affect your cat.


Roses also have sharp thorns that could injure a cat. Thorns on roses could cut a cats paw or cause internal damage if ingested.

Rather than discussing roses as a group of flowers, we will look at 7 plants that are often referred to as roses, to find out whether or not they can be grown in a home or garden with cats. 

Are rosa species toxic to cats?

Are roses toxic to cats? While roses aren't toxic to cats other plants that are members of the Rosaceae family are. Most fruit trees are poisonous to cats if the leaves or stem is ingested.

As mentioned above, roses (Rosa Species) are non-toxic and won’t generally harm your pet. They are part of the botanical family Rosaceae and are safe to grow if you have cats, dogs, or horses. These common plants don’t contain any toxic principles and won’t harm your cat, even if he eats a small piece.

While roses aren’t toxic to cats, some other plants in the Rosaceae family can be poisonous to animals if the leaves, flowers, or stems are consumed. These include fruit trees such as apple (including crab-apple), apricot, cherry, peach, and plum. 

These plants are poisonous to cats, dogs, and horses if consumed in large enough quantities. They can cause some severe symptoms, which can prove to be fatal in the worse cases. The most common symptoms include dilated pupils, panting, shock, and difficulty breathing.


Which plants are toxic to cats?

A few plants aren’t part of the Rosaceae family but are often called roses. The following plants are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, be very careful if you are growing any of these plants and have pets:

  • Christmas Roses (Helleborus niger)
  • Desert Roses (Adenium obesum)
  • Moss Roses (Portulaca oleracea)
  • Rose Bay (Nerium oleander)

Are Christmas roses toxic to cats?

Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) are listed on the ASPCA website as toxic to cats. These common flowers are also sometimes referred to as Lenten Roses, Easter Roses or Hellebore. They are part of the Ranunculaceae botanical family and are toxic to animals, including dogs, cats, small pets, and horses if ingested.

Christmas roses contain toxic principles saponins, protoanemonin, and cardiac glycosides, which can cause some nasty symptoms. If your cat’s prone to nibbling plants, it’s best not to grow Christmas roses as even a small amount could cause stomach issues such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other symptoms of poisoning include drooling, colic, and depression.

If you think your cat has eaten part of a Christmas rose, including the leaves, petals, or stems, consult your vet for advice, even if your pet seems fine. Don’t wait until your cat starts to suffer, as symptoms can take a while to develop and can come on quickly and severely.

Are roses toxic to cats? Christmas roses are poisonous to cats and other pets.

Are desert roses toxic to cats?

Desert roses (Adenium obesum) are commonly called desert azalea or mock azalea. They also go by the names Sabi star plant, impala lily, and kudu lily and are part of the Apocynaceae family. 

Desert roses are highly toxic to cats and other pets as they contain the poisonous compound cardiac glycoside, which causes cats to vomit and have diarrhea. In worse cases, glycoside toxicity can cause an irregular heartbeat which can cause death. Long-term symptoms also include anorexia and depression. 

If your cat has eaten a piece of desert rose or any of the other toxic plants on this list, seek immediate medical attention.  

Are moss roses toxic to cats?

Moss roses (Portulaca oleracea) are also toxic to cats and should be avoided if you have pets. These plants are part of the Portulacaceae botanical family and are referred to as wild portulaca, purslane, pigweed, rock moss, or pusley.

Moss roses contain soluble calcium oxalates, which can cause kidney failure leading to death in pets, although this is rare. It’s more common for cats and dogs to suffer from tremors and salivation after ingesting any part of the moss rose plant. You can save your pet by seeking immediate medical attention.

Is rose bay toxic to cats?

Rose-Bay (Nerium oleander) are toxic to cats, dogs, and livestock. They should only be grown if they are out of the reach of pets, including horses.

Rose bay contains cardiac glycosides, which can cause drooling and abdominal pain in cats, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, depression, and in the worse cases death. Consult a vet as soon as possible for an antidote to the toxic compound found in this plant.

Which plants are non-toxic and won’t harm cats?

Non-toxic plants called roses but aren’t part of the Rosaceae family include dwarf rose stripe star plants and rose of China. These plants are safe to grow in your home or garden if you have a cat or any other pets.

  • Dwarf rose stripe star plants (Cryptanthus bivattus minor)
  • Rose of China (Hibiscus syriacus)
  • Any type of Rose (Rosa Species)

Are dwarf rose stripe star plants toxic to cats?

Dwarf rose stripe star plants (cryptanthus bivattus minor) aren’t toxic to cats or other pets. They are part of the Bromelaceae botanical family and won’t harm cats or dogs. You can safely grow these plants in your flower bed or home, but be aware that any chemical products such as fertilizers or pesticides you use may be harmful to your cat. It’s best to practice organic gardening where possible if you have pets or young children.

Is Rose of China Toxic to Cats?

Another safe plant to grow if you have pets is the Rose of China. This plant isn’t a rose but is a type of hibiscus and has the scientific name Hibiscus syriacus. 

The plant is commonly referred to as Hibiscus or Rose of Sharon and is part of the Malvaceae family. The rose of China isn’t toxic to cats, dogs, or horses if consumed.

Are roses toxic to cats? Final thoughts

‘Every rose has its thorn’ Cats can get scratches from rose bushes if they aren’t careful, especially on their paws, nose, mouth or eyes. Most cats will learn to keep away from a rose bush after being snagged a few times. 

My cat once decided to use a rose bush as a scratching post and then spent the whole evening sitting by the fire licking and chewing at her swollen paw to get a thorn out. By the next day her paw was back to normal, but its worth being aware of this problem and keeping your cat away from rose bushes if possible. 

If you suspect that your cat has eaten anything poisonous, contact a vet right away. You can view a full list of toxic plants on the ASPCA website

Related Article: Are Poinsettia Poisonous to Cats?

Conclusion: Are roses toxic to cats? No, but there are some exceptions. Many plants that are reffered to as 'roses' do contain toxic compounds that can affect cats.

If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends!


Recent cat care articles