10 plants that are poisonous to cats

a Bombay kitten lying in a flowerpot.
Hello, cat lovers! Have you ever thought about the fact that your green friend could pose a threat to your furry pet? Yes, we're talking about houseplants. Tulips, lilies and geraniums - these harmless looking plants may decorate our homes, but did you know that they can be dangerous to our kitties? Unfortunately, this is no joke. Some houseplants that are common to us can be poisonous to cats, causing anywhere from mild discomfort to serious health problems. And while we're enjoying our green corners, our pets can be seriously affected by toxic plants.

In this article, we'll discuss why some plants are a threat to cats, which plants to avoid, and what to do if your pet is a victim of plant poisoning. We will separately discuss the main signs of poisoning. The purpose of this article: to help you create a safe space for your pets where they are free to play and explore without health risks. Let's take care of our furry friends together!
Why does a cat eat plants?

  • Vitamin deficiency. Cats will sometimes turn to indoor plants in an attempt to replenish themselves. Cats may also get bactericidal, antihelminthic, or antifungal compounds from plants.
  • Cats can sometimes eat something heavy, such as dry food rich in carbohydrates. This causes them abdominal discomfort, and the parts of the plant that cause them to vomit help them to cleanse themselves of the unabsorbed food. In the same way, they can get rid of ingested hair. This can also include getting rid of parasites in the gastrointestinal tract by vomiting.
  • Kittens and adults love to play. Brightly colored flowers and leaves can attract their attention, and they may bite off a piece of the plant while playing.
  • It should not be overlooked that our cats are small predators. Their hunting instinct can be satisfied if they consider a beautiful flower as their prey.
  • Stress. Moving, change of ownership, new family members (both humans and animals), and a stressful environment can all cause stress in cats. Chewing on plants can calm them down as it helps relieve stress.

As we mentioned in our article "General Principles of Cat Nutrition", cats have a completely different digestive system than humans or dogs. They are obligate predators, which means that their bodies are adapted to digest animal food rather than plant food. This is due to their evolutionary development and their dominant position in the food chain.
Why can some plants be dangerous to cats?

Many plants contain chemical compounds called toxins. These can be harmless to humans and other animals, but deadly to cats.

It may seem surprising, but some plants that we think are safe and nutritious for us can be harmful to cats. For example, avocados contain persin, a toxin that can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats.

So while we humans may enjoy the variety of plants in our homes and gardens, there can be a hidden threat to our feline friends. But don't worry, we're going to help you figure out which plants to avoid and how to protect your furry friend from possible poisoning.

Let's delve into the details of each of these plants and their effects on our feline friends. Please note that we don't claim to have an exhaustive list of poisonous plants, however, we have tried to compile the widest possible list for you. If you have something to add, write in the comments.
  1. Lilies: Let's start with one of the most dangerous plants for cats. Any part of the lily, whether it be the petals, leaves, or even the pollen, can cause severe acute kidney failure in cats. This is a serious condition that can lead to death or severe loss of health within hours if you do not contact a veterinary hospital immediately.
  2. Oleander: Not only does this plant look beautiful in the garden, but it is also dangerous to our feline friends. All parts of oleander or its relatives (allamanda, mandevilla, catharanthus, pachypodium) contain toxins that can cause serious heart problems such as arrhythmia and acute heart failure and lead to the death of your pet.
  3. Rhododendron: Another plant that can beautify your garden but also pose a threat to your cat. Rhododendron stems, leaves, and flowers contain toxins that can cause stomach problems such as vomiting and diarrhea, and can also cause seizures and even coma.
  4. Irises, daffodils, peonies, lupines, hyacinths and chrysanthemums: The bulbs and flowers of these spring flowers contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. In more severe cases, they can cause anxiety, increased heart rate, fainting and even seizures.
  5. Azaleas: Once in the cat's stomach, the poison from azalea flowers and leaves causes central nervous system depression, which can cause severe multi-organ failure: vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, laryngeal edema, heart rhythm disturbances (up to and including heart failure).
  6. Calla: This tropical flower contains oxalic acid, which can irritate the cat's mouth and cause salivation, vomiting and difficulty swallowing due to swelling of the larynx. In particularly severe cases, calla poisoning can cause impaired motor coordination and acute heart failure.
  7. Ficus: They are popular houseplants, but many ficus species contain euphorbin, a toxic substance that causes oral burns. If ficus sap gets into the eyes the pet can go blind. The plant also causes damage to the nervous system, as well as vomiting and diarrhea.
  8. Solanaceae: These plants, including hydrangea and nightshade, contain cyanide ions that are released through contact with water or saliva. Symptoms of poisoning are as follows: stomach pain, vomiting, and severe stomach upset. Later on, intestinal pain begins. They also contain solanine, a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, agitation and then depression of the nervous system, decomposition of red blood cells and consequently paralysis or even death.
  9. Tulips: Another spring flower that can pose a threat to cats. Tulip bulbs contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and difficulty breathing. They can also cause rapid heartbeat and seizures.
  10. Chrysanthemums: These brightly colored, flowering plants contain pyrethrins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, loss of appetite and dermatitis. In severe poisoning, disorientation, weakness, hyperexcitability, tremors, seizures, tachypnea - rapid breathing, and shortness of breath may join.
Signs of cat poisoning.

If your little furry friend suddenly starts acting strange, it may not just be a new trick he's learned, but a sign that something is wrong with him. Poisoning in cats is a pretty serious matter, so let's break down what signs to look for and what to do if you suspect your cat may be poisoned.
Poisoning in cats can manifest itself differently depending on what caused the poisoning, but there are some common signs to look out for.

  • Vomiting and diarrhea: These are some of the most common signs of poisoning in cats. If your cat starts vomiting or suffers from diarrhea, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it could be a sign of poisoning.
  • Loss of appetite: If your cat suddenly stops eating or seems to have difficulty swallowing, it could be a sign of poisoning.
  • Salivation: Increased salivation can also be a sign of poisoning, especially if the saliva is very viscous or foamy.
  • Weakness and lethargy: If your cat suddenly becomes very weak, inactive or even lethargic, this could be a sign of poisoning.
  • Seizures: This is a serious sign of poisoning and requires immediate medical attention.
  • Behavioral changes: If your cat is behaving strangely, such as becoming aggressive, anxious or depressed, this could also be a sign of poisoning.
  • Changes in breathing: If your cat's breathing has changed, such as becoming heavy or rapid, this could be a sign of poisoning.
  • Changes in urine or feces color: If your cat's urine or feces has changed color, especially if it has become dark or bloody, it may be a sign of poisoning.
If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, it is important to act quickly. Here is what you should do (This algorithm applies to all types of poisoning):

1. Do not waste time and contact your veterinarian immediately. The sooner you seek help, the better your cat's chances of recovery.

2. If possible, try to determine what may have caused the poisoning. It could be a food, a plant, a chemical, or something else. If possible, collect a sample of what you think caused the poisoning. All of this can help the veterinarian diagnose and begin treatment more quickly. When contacting, be prepared to answer a number of questions: what and when your cat last ate, what symptoms you noticed, when they started, frequency, intensity and duration of attacks and so on. For example: the pet ate Chrysanthemums flower, vomited 2 times 30 minutes apart, here is a photo of the vomit, 20 minutes after the last attack the pet became lethargic, on the way to you (about 30 minutes after the poisoning) there were cramps and shortness of breath. Try to give as detailed and specific answers as possible with a clear time reference.

3- Do not attempt to induce vomiting in your cat without consulting your veterinarian. Some substances can damage a cat's esophagus when they pass through it again.

4. Try to remain calm. It's easy to say but hard to do, especially when it comes to your furry friend's health. But remember, your cat can sense your anxiety, so it's important to stay calm for their sake. Panicking won't help you or your pet.

Your veterinarian will likely run a number of tests to determine the cause of the poisoning and begin appropriate treatment. Follow all of your veterinarian's recommendations and make sure your cat gets all the support she needs to recover.

Remember, it's better to be over-insured than to miss serious complications. Your cat relies on you, so act quickly and decisively!
Pet Health: Nutrition and Care