Cats can be very sensitive to certain kinds of plants and, in some cases, just a small nibble can cause big problems. If you have a cat, it’s important to make sure you keep potentially harmful plants like these away from your whiskered friend.
- Autumn Crocus
- Azalea — Avoid bringing a bunch of these beautiful flowers inside your home
- Bird of Paradise
- Calla Lily
- Dieffenbachia — You might know this plant as Dumb Cane or Leopard Lily
- Dracaena — These decorative plants are also called “female dragon” and are toxic to cats
- Honeysuckle — These flowers have a sweet smell that can be tempting for cats
- Lilies (all Lilium species, such as Easter Lilies)
- Lily of the Valley
- Morning Glory
- Pothos — This green and leafy houseplant is easy to care for but can make your cat sick
- Sago Palm
- Tulip — These are lovely in the spring around Easter time, but harmful to your cat
This list is not comprehensive by any means, but you can find a more extensive list of plants that are toxic to cats (as well as dogs and horses) posted by the ASPCA® Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). Or, you can download their free app, APCC by ASPCA, to learn more.
The symptoms can vary depending on the type of plant and how much your cat has eaten. They can range from a minor tummy ache to serious kidney failure, and can even result in death. These are some of the more common signs that your cat has eaten something poisonous:
- Inflammation around the mouth
- Difficulty breathing, which can be caused by inflammation that blocks air passages
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive drinking and urination, which can occur when the kidneys are impacted by the toxic substance
- Rapid heart rate
Toxic plants can also cause skin irritation or itchiness, so you may notice your cat pawing at their mouth and face. In addition, your cat could show behavioral signs that something is wrong, such as irritability or depression.
Find out about other common household items that can be dangerous to your cat at 101 Things You Didn’t Know Could Harm Your Pet.
What You Should Do
If you think your cat has ingested something poisonous, contact a veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) right away. The APCC is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 888-426-4435 to help with emergencies involving poisoned pets. A $65 consultation fee may apply when you call, but a portion of that is covered if you have an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan.
The APCC is staffed with trained experts who have experience handling more than 2 million cases. They also have access to an extensive database, which helps them assess the situation and give treatment recommendations quickly. Plus, they are able to work with your veterinarian or an emergency hospital if your cat needs hands on treatment.
Keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to try to treat your cat without professional advice, for instance, by attempting to induce vomiting. You could risk injuring your cat or yourself. Even the friendliest of kitties can bite or scratch when they’re scared or in pain. Also, do your best to remain calm, which can help your cat do the same.
Treatment for poisoning will depend on the substance your cat has ingested. It could include:
- Administering fluid therapy
- Inducing vomiting
- Pumping the stomach
- Providing medications to control symptoms such as muscle tremors or seizures
These treatments can get expensive, but they can also save your cat’s life. If you have an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan, you can get reimbursed for these costs. Pet insurance can help you focus on what’s best for your cat in an emergency with less worry about the price of care.
The best way to prevent your cat from eating a toxic plant is to make sure there aren’t any around your home. You can use our list as a starting point, but you should also check the list of plants that are toxic to cats posted by the APCC.
In addition, you should be careful to check any floral bouquets before displaying them in your home. They often contain Baby’s Breath, which can cause tummy issues as well as other potentially dangerous flowers, such as Calla Lilies, Daffodils, Irises, Lilium, or Tulips. You can simply take out the problematic flowers before setting the bouquet in a vase. You should also know that the little packet of fertilizer you get with many flower arrangements is toxic to cats. If you add it to the vase and your cat laps it up, it can cause issues like drooling and stomach upset.
Remember too that all cats should be kept indoors as recommended by the ASPCA®. This helps keep them safe from eating harmful plants, getting injured, or catching contagious diseases from other animals. Plus, it helps keep small wildlife safe from cats who might prey on them.
12 Non-toxic Plant Alternatives
Just because you have a cat doesn’t mean you can’t have a little greenery around your home. There are plenty of plants that you can use to decorate that won’t cause problems for your cat, including:
- African Violet
- Areca Palm
- Baby Rubber Plant
- Ball Fern
- Boston Fern
- Christmas Cactus
- Rose—Be sure to remove the thorns since they can injure a curious cat
- Spider Plant
- Variegated Wax Plant
How to Keep Cats Out of Plants
There’s no way to ensure your cat won’t nibble on your plants, so you should eliminate any toxic ones from your home. If you decide to have a few non-toxic plants around, these tips can help you keep your cat from making a mess of them.
- Place large rocks in the pot – The rocks can add a decorative effect and help keep your cat from tipping the plant over or digging in the dirt.
- Spritz plants with a store bought repellant – You can purchase a spray bottle of safe cat repellant online or at your local pet store.
- Add orange peels to the soil – Cats typically don’t like the smell or taste of citrus, so adding fresh peels can help keep your kitty at bay.
- Put plants out of paws reach – This can be tricky since cats tend to find a way to get at anything when they put their mind to it. Even high mantles or shelves can be problematic. Placing plants up high can tempt your cat to take a big jump and get hurt. However, if you have a safe room that your cat can’t enter, it might be a good place for plants.
If you like the look of plants around your home, but can’t seem to keep your cat out of them, you can always consider using silk or plastic ones.
Is Your Cat Covered?
It’s not uncommon for cat parents to think that their whiskered companions don’t need pet insurance. But you never know when your cat might nibble on a toxic plant, suffer an injury in the home, or get sick with anything from a common cold or skin problem to something more serious, like diabetes or cancer. Get a free quote for your cat today and start coverage tomorrow!