Which Plants are Toxic to Cats? 20 Plants to Avoid if you Have a Cat or Kitten
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Ever wondered which plants are toxic to cats? There are many different types of plants that can be dangerous to cats. Some common examples include azaleas and lilies. Here are plants to avoid if you have a cat or kitten!
Cats are curious and like to explore, often getting themselves into trouble, which is where the saying, ‘curiosity killed the cat’ comes from. Many plants are toxic to cats, so cat owners need to check whether any poisonous plants grow in their home or garden. Getting rid of poisonous plants will help you avoid potentially harmful situations for your pet.
Which plants are toxic to cats?
You should be aware that many common houseplants can cause problems for cats if ingested. The flowers and leaves of some plants and vegetables, such as rhubarb and avocado, can make a cat ill.
Many plants contain compounds, such as alkaloids or aloins, that will affect a cat’s health. Some compounds cannot correctly digest or broken down in cats’ bodies. The toxicity comes from the cat’s inability to metabolize these compounds properly, so even a tiny amount can have dangerous effects. Some plants are irritants that cause swelling of the mouth and throat.
What to do if your cat ate a piece of toxic plant
If you think your cat has consumed a piece of a poisonous plant, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance immediately. If possible, you can remove any pieces of plant that are visible in your cat’s mouth or fur.
If you know your cat has eaten a piece of plant, but are unsure of the name, take a bit of the plant with you to the vets for identification purposes. If this isn’t possible, but your cat has been sick, take a sample of the vomit to be tested. The vet will have a better chance of diagnosing and treating your pet if they know which plant has caused the problem.
If you’re not already aware which plants are toxic to cats, check out our list below:
Aloe vera (Liliaceae family)
This succulent is commonly kept as a houseplant worldwide. All parts of the aloe vera plant and other aloe species in the Liliaceae family are considered poisonous to cats.
If your cat eats part of an aloe vera plant, they may experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, and in the worse cases, intestinal damage. Aloe vera skin contains a chemical called aloin which has a laxative effect on humans and animals. It can also cause cats to experience a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, which can be dangerous.
Other succulents such as the snake plant are poisonous to cats.
Amaryllis (Amaryllis spp.)
This plant contains the toxic compound Lycorine, which can cause sickness and diarrhoea as well as abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and tremors. Lasting effects of the plant include depression, anxiety, and weight loss.
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
Autumn crocus, also known as Meadow Saffron, is poisonous to cats if ingested, as it contains Colchicine and other alkaloids. These plants cause severe distress, including bloody vomiting, shock, and diarrhea. In the worse cases, multi-organ damage will occur and bone marrow suppression.
Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.)
Azaleas and rhododendrons can cause problems for cats. Eating even a tiny part of an azalea plant can cause your cat to experience vomiting and diarrhoea. Some cats may also tremble or suffer from a lack of coordination. These plants contain a compound called grayanotoxin which in the worse cases can cause cardiac failure.
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarium)
While the stalks from this plant are safe for humans, its leaves can be toxic to cats and people. If your cat accidentally eats any part of this plant, he may experience symptoms such as tremors and salivation. In the worse cases, Kidney failure will occur due to a compound in the plant called soluble calcium oxalates.
Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculate)
Water hemlock is a poisonous plant that’s often referred to as cowbane or poison parsnip. It’s toxic to dogs, cats, and horses due to a toxic compound called Cicutoxin. If your cat eats water hemlock, he’ll likely experience symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, tremors, diarrhea, fever, and bloating. In the worse cases where larger amounts of the plant have been eaten, your cat may have seizures, experience extreme stomach pain, have dilated pupils, and respiratory problems. These symptoms may ultimately lead to the cat’s death.
Onions and Garlic (Allium sativum)
If your cat eats a piece of either an onion or garlic plant, they may experience symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, blood in the urine, high heart rate, and panting. Both of these plants contain compounds known as N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate, which is poisonous for cats. These compounds can cause severe damage to a cat’s red blood cells if they consume them.
Lupines often grow along the sides of roads; although they look beautiful, keeping your cat away from these plants is important. Both the leaves and seeds of lupines are toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in cats. In severe cases, cats may also experience a lack of coordination or tremors.
Jade plants (Crassula argentea)
Jade plants, also known as money plants, can be a toxic danger to cats. They contain various alkaloids that can cause vomiting, drooling, incoordination, depression, and lethargy.
Related article: Are jade plants toxic to cats?
Castor beans (Ricinus communis)
Castor bean plants can be dangerous for both humans and animals as they contain the toxin ricin. If a cat eats a castor plant or bean, they can experience vomiting and diarrhoea. In severe cases, it’s also possible for a cat to have seizures or lose consciousness. Oral irritation can also occur, causing burning of the mouth and throat.
Ferns aren’t toxic to either humans or animals, but they can cause stomach irritation in cats if they’re eaten. If your cat eats any part of a fern, it may experience symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting.
Related article: Are ferns toxic to cats?
Nightshade (Solanum spp)
Also known as deadly nightshade or black nightshade, this plant can affect pets and people. While the berries from this plant are poisonous to humans, they’re toxic for cats as well. If your cat eats any part of this plant, he might experience symptoms such as excessive drooling or vomiting. Cats that eat the berries from nightshade often begin to drool excessively and suffer from severe symptoms such as drowsiness, depression and confusion, dilated pupils, and a slow heart rate. The toxic principles solanine and saponins cause these symptoms.
Tulip (Tulipa spp.)
These plants produce poisonous compounds called tulipalin A and B. If your cat eats any part of the tulip or narcissus plant, he may experience symptoms such as, diarrhea, depression, hypersalivation, and vomiting. Eating tulips leaves, petals or bulbs often leads to cats becoming nauseous and lethargic. Many also lose their appetite for several days afterward. The bulbs are particularly toxic and should be kept away from cats.
There are many different types of lilies, including Easter, Peace, and Stargazer lilies. These flowers, including the pollen, are poisonous to cats. The problem with having lilies in your home is that they can drop pollen onto your cat’s fur, which can be ingested while grooming.
If your cat eats any part of a lily plant, they may experience symptoms such as vomiting, kidney failure, and in the worse cases death. Cats that have consumed a little pollen are likely to become lethargic and have a lack of appetite for several days. Some types of lilies will also cause skin irritation, affecting the cat’s mouth, tongue, and lips.
Related Article: Are Peace Lilies Toxic to Cats?
Philodendrons (Philodendron spp)
Philodendrons are toxic to humans, cats, dogs, and livestock if ingested. These plants contain calcium oxalate, which can cause minor stomach irritation in cats. If your cat eats any part of this plant, they could experience symptoms such as drooling and vomiting. Philodendrons can also cause skin irritation, particularly around a cat’s mouth, lips and tongue. There are over 400 species of philodendron, and they all belong to the Araceae family. Avoid these popular houseplants if you have a cat.
Ivy (Hedera helix)
Ivy is commonly referred to as branching or climbing ivy, English Ivy, or Glacier Ivy and is part of the Araliaceae family. If your cat eats the leaves or berries from an ivy plant, he may experience symptoms such as vomiting, stomach pain, drooling, or diarrhea. The leaves of ivy plants are slightly more toxic than the berries. All parts of the plant contain the toxic compound triterpenoid saponins, which can affect cats, dogs, and horses.
Related Article: Is English Ivy Toxic to Cats?
Daffodils (Narcissus spp)
Daffodils contain alkaloids such as Lycorine that can make cats ill. If your cat eats any part of a daffodil, he may experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea. In the worse cases where large amounts of the plant has been eaten, seizures and heart problems can be suffered.
Related article: Are daffodils poisonous to cats?
Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp)
This flowering plant is a common addition to many homes and gardens as it produces beautiful flowers during the winter months. The cyclamen contains a toxic substance known as Terpenoid saponins. While the tubers of this plant are especially dangerous for cats, other parts can cause problems. If your cat eats any part of the cyclamen plant, he may experience symptoms such as vomiting and lethargy. Some cats may also become excessively thirsty or develop a fever.
Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens)
Mistletoe comes from the Viscaceae botanical family and is a holiday decoration that people often place inside their homes. While it can look beautiful, this plant is toxic for both dogs and cats as it contains Toxalbumin and pharatoxin viscumin. If your cat consumes any part of the mistletoe plant, he may experience symptoms such as diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and vomiting. Cats may also become nauseous and lethargic after nibbling on mistletoe.
Dangerous plants: More plants that are poisonous to cats
The above image shows some common house plants that are popular with homeowners. These plants should be avoided as they are poisonous to cats.
You can view a full list of toxic plants on the ASPCA website.
Related Article: Are Poinsettia Toxic to Cats?
Which plants are toxic to cats?: Final thoughts
If your pet eats anything considered toxic for cats, they may experience symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, or lethargy. While some symptoms may appear relatively harmless at first, more severe cases can cause your cat to become very ill or even die.
If you suspect that your cat has eaten anything poisonous, contact a vet right away. Alternatively contact the pet poison helpline for advice.