What houseplants are toxic to cats? Know your plants!

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what houseplants are toxic to cats

There are many reasons to add houseplants to your décor, including fresh air and a natural design element. However, you should first be aware of what houseplants are toxic to cats. Our feline friends have a habit of nibbling on plants, so it’s important to keep your home as safe as possible.

What houseplants are toxic to cats: There are many common houseplants that are toxic to cats. The most common ones include lilies, chrysanthemums, and daffodils. There are plenty of holiday-inspired plants that are toxic, including English ivy, poinsettias, and amaryllis. Although the best course of action is to not bring these toxic plants into your home, if you do, be sure to keep them out of reach of your cats. Place them up high and away from other pieces of furniture that your cat can use to access the plants.

Why do cats like to eat plants?

First, let’s understand why cats might want to take a bit out of your houseplant and if there are ways to prevent this from happening.

Often, cats will start to eat plants if they are feeling nauseous. The plants often trigger your cats to vomit, which while unpleasant, can help to calm their stomachs.

If your cat has gotten into the habit of eating your houseplants and then throwing up, it may be time to switch cat foods. Look for specialty foods for cats with sensitive stomachs.

Another reason cats often eat plants is that they want a higher moisture content. Make sure your cat always has access to fresh, clean drinking water.

Even if your cat has drinking water, if you only feed them dry food, then they might not get enough moisture in their diet. You may want to add a bit of wet food to their dish.

13 Houseplants That are Toxic to Cats

houseplants that are toxic to plants

Lilies

Perhaps the most dangerous for cats, lilies can cause severe health issues such as kidney failure. In fact, most vets will come across lily flower poisoning in cats and many make it a point to educate new cat owners on the toxicity of lilies.

Within the family of lilies, there are some that are more toxic than others. Tiger lilies and daylilies are the worst, but even though calla lilies and peace lilies are not as toxic, they should still be avoided.

Dieffenbachia

Also known as dumb cane, this popular houseplant is toxic to cats. The problem appears after a cat has bitten into the plant.

After the plant reaches the cat’s mouth, it will release calcium oxalate crystals, which are insoluble. The crystals are as sharp as needles and can cause irritation to the cat’s digestive tract and mouth.

While most cases are treatable, there is still the possibility the effects will be serious.

Cannabis

Now that cannabis is legal in Canada and many states, there are those who might try to grow a plant or two in their home. However, if a cat chews on a cannabis plant, it can experience a lot of serious effects.

First, if too much is ingested, it can cause your cat to vomit. Other issues include a drop in blood pressure, seizures, and even your cat falling into a coma.

Even if your cat only ingests a small amount of cannabis, the THC content can be a lot for a small animal. You can expect your cat to become disoriented and sleepy.

Daffodils

Even though most daffodils are planted outside, sometimes you may want to bring this touch of spring indoors. The entire plant, including the leaves, stems, and roots, is poisonous and contains lycorine.

The effects of ingesting lycorine include diarrhea and vomiting. In extreme cases, your cat may have trouble breathing and even experience convulsions.

Tulips

Another spring bulb that is often outside but sometimes used in an indoor planter, tulips are toxic to cats. The plant contains the toxins Tulipalin A and Tulipalin B.

The entire part of the plant is toxic but is most concentrated in the bulbs. Even if you have a package of bulbs sitting in your home, waiting to be planted outside, make sure they are out of reach of your cat.

Kalanchoe

Known for its small but bright blooms, this popular houseplant is also known as devil’s backbone or mother-in-law plants. All parts of the plant are toxic.

If your cat ingests part of this plant, it can lead to drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting. Large quantities of this plant can even lead to heart arrhythmia, seizures, and your cat collapsing.

Sago palms

This popular houseplant thrives in warm, humid areas. While all parts of the plant are toxic, the seeds are especially so and if ingested, your car can die from them.

Sago palm includes the toxin cycasin and can cause extreme liver damage. Symptoms of cycasin poisoning include bruising, lethargy, extreme thirst, and liver failure.

If you suspect your cat has eaten part of a sago palm, you must seek veterinary care immediately. Unfortunately, the mortality rate from this poison is 50 percent.

Aloe vera

This plant is common in households as it is easy to care for and also provides a soothing balm for burns. However, it is not beneficial for cats.

If cats eat aloe vera, it can cause an upset stomach and even diarrhea. It is not the most problematic houseplant on our list but still should be avoided.

Amaryllis

A gorgeous holiday flower, this is a common gift as it brightens up the winter scenery. While you may be tempted to display it for all to see, it is toxic to cats.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Your cat may even experience tremors which can be quite scary to witness.

Chrysanthemums

A perfect fall plant, mums bring bright pops of color. Unfortunately, they need to be kept out of reach of cats. If eaten, chrysanthemums can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling.

They can also cause a loss of coordination in cats and even depression. Even if your cat doesn’t eat the chrysanthemums but merely brushes up against them, this can cause dermatitis.

English ivy

Those who want a bit of freshness in the winter may create a Christmas wreath out of the ivy. If you plan on doing this, make sure you hang it up high and out of reach of your cat.

English ivy can cause severe gastrointestinal problems. This includes diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and excessive salivation.

Cyclamens

With delicate purple flowers, this houseplant is a common gift. Not only can it cause irritation if your cat rubs its fur against it, but it is also very toxic if ingested.

Unfortunately, if a cat eats cyclamen, it can result in intense vomiting. If this isn’t controlled, your cat might not survive.

Poinsettias

Even though these plants are not super poisonous, they are highly popular and as a result, frequently cause issues with cats.

The poinsettia plant itself is not very toxic but the plant produces a milky white sap that has dangerous chemicals in it. If this sap comes into contact with your cat, it can cause vomiting, drooling, and upset stomachs.

While not as common, sometimes this sap can get into the eyes of cats. If so, it can cause conjunctivitis.

Will cats eat toxic plants?

The good news is that most cats won’t simply eat what is around them. They will first sniff available plants and their instincts will tell them what is poisonous and not.

However, there are some cats who will eat any plant near them. It’s important to know what kind of cat you have and what their behavior is like.

Even though plant poisoning for cats is thankfully rare, you should always err on the side of caution when it comes to bringing plants inside your home.

How to prevent cats from eating toxic plants

Knowing what plants are toxic to cats means you can decide which ones to bring into your home. While the easiest way to prevent cats from eating toxic plants is to simply not buy them, there are ways to have them in the house and still protect your cat.

Start by placing your plants up high. The top shelves of a bookcase, on a high shelf in your kitchen, or attached up high on your door are easy solutions.

It would help if you also looked at what is around your toxic houseplant. Even if it is high, cats are great at jumping and may launch off a nearby shelf to get to a higher one.

You can also think about adding some sort of screen around your plant. Some tropical houseplants do well in terrariums.

Finally, think about the personality of your cat. If you have a cat that has repeatedly eaten plants in the past, it may be easier to simply not bring toxic plants into your home.

Conclusion

Houseplants are a great way to add liveliness to your home but there are some very common varieties that are toxic to cats. Always research before purchasing houseplants and avoid toxic ones such as lilies, sago palms, and daffodils.

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