Keeping Kitty Safe Around House Plants

Just like you, your cat is naturally sensitive to the toxins present in many plants. But unlike you, your cat is in danger of eating many plants that you would never think to eat. Cats naturally chew on grass and other types of plants to get nutrients that may be missing in their diets. However, many common houseplants, garden plantings, and ordinary wild plants are toxic to cats and should be avoided as much as possible.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the common houseplants, favorite gardening plants, and common wild plants that are toxic to cats. Then we’ll investigate the symptoms that may indicate that a cat could have been poisoned by a toxic plant, and provide some treatment options for poisoned cats.

Toxic plants and cats

Common Plants That Are Toxic to Cats

Not all parts of all the plants listed here are equal in their concentration of toxins, but all of the parts of these plants should be considered dangerous and kept out of the home. Further, you should watch out for the plants in the below list in outdoor settings, too. According to the ASPCA, there are more than 1000 common indoor and outdoor plants in the U.S. that are toxic to cats in some way and in some concentration.

The following are among the most common plants shown to be toxic to cats:

  • Rhododendrons
  • Amaryllis
  • English Ivy
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Lilies (All Types)
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Azaleas
  • Cyclamen
  • Castor Bean Plant
  • Aloe
  • Yew
  • Cannabis (Marijuana)
  • Oleander
  • Spanish thyme
  • Acorn Squash
  • Sago Palm
  • Tulips*
  • Narcissus*

*Note that with tulips and narcissus, unlike lilies, only the bulbs are toxic to cats.

What to Watch Out for If Your Cat Has Ingested These Plants

If you suspect that your cat may have been exposed to or consumed toxic plant matter, check their behavior and condition against the following list of common symptoms of poisoning in cats:

  • Faster heartbeat, Slower heartbeat, or an Irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive Urination
  • Extreme Thirst
  • Respiratory Difficulty
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble Swallowing or Eating
  • Diarrhea

Different plants carry different toxins, and different toxins can affect different organs and tissues in your cat’s body in a wide variety of ways.

What You Can Do If Your Cat’s Been Exposed to These Plants

If you suspect that your cat has been poisoned by ingesting one of these toxic plants in or outside of the home, the best course of action is to visit the veterinarian as soon as possible. Before you go, make sure that the plant matter is no longer in your cat’s mouth, on their skin, or in their fur.

If possible, collect some of the plant to bring with you (unless you can make a 100% positive identification). And, if your cat has vomited or had diarrhea, try to collect a sample of that as well for your vet.

Finding Balance in Your Approach to Cats’ Safety

Considering that the plants that are toxic to cats number over 1000, it can be tempting to worry inordinately about the possibility of your cat ingesting poison, especially if they have outdoor privileges. One great way to keep your cats safe is to make sure your home environment is safe and healthy for them and not to let them outside.

If that cannot be accomplished, ensuring that toxic plants are not growing on your immediate property is a good next step. Clearing your entire neighborhood or area of every toxic plant would be very challenging and going a bit overboard perhaps, but maintaining vigilance within your own yard is wise.

Author: Giano Panzarella