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What Plants Are Toxic to Cats? 12 Poisonous Types

Bynewsmagzines

Mar 31, 2023
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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are naturally curious and will nibble on almost anything, including your plants. So, you need to know which ones are safe and which are toxic to keep them safe. Some plants cause temporary symptoms such as dizziness, diarrhea, and nausea, while others can lead to severe health issues and even death if consumed.

Before adding plants to your house or yard, you must ensure they are safe for your cat. In this article, we’ll dive into some toxic plants, their symptoms, and the steps you should take after your cat ingests them.

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12 Plants That Are Toxic to Cats

1. Lilies

Lilies are spectacular when they bloom, which makes them a popular garden plant and lawn cover. Certain lilies are more toxic to cats, like all of the ones included in the Lilium species, such as Red Lilies, Tiger Lilies, Wood Lilies, and Rubrum Lilies. Ingesting any part of the lily plant is dangerous for cats and can lead to kidney failure or death.

Cat owners should not keep lilies in the house or plant them in their yards; the risk is not worth it. If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lily plant, rush it to the vet immediately.


2. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a common house plant due to its vast medicinal benefits. Since it’s typically planted at ground level, cats have easy access and often nibble on it. It is also toxic to cats and can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.

Consider spraying a solution of vinegar to make them less tasty to cats. You should take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect it has ingested Aloe Vera.

aloe vera
Image Credit: Carla Burke, Pixabay

3. Marijuana

Many people are turning to marijuana as a medicinal substance, and some have started growing it in their homes to avoid going through clinics. Unfortunately, THC, the active compound in Marijuana, is quite toxic to cats and can cause many symptoms, including lethargy, vomiting, and seizures, but is seldom fatal. The amount that is toxic to cats is unknown, but it’s best to be safe and avoid it entirely.

marijuana plant
Image Credit: Claudio A.Neves, Shutterstock

4. Pothos

Pothos is a popular house plant due to its attractiveness and low maintenance. It is the perfect plant for beginners and is also budget-friendly. Although it’s safe to touch, it’s quite toxic to cats if ingested.

The toxic components are insoluble calcium oxalates, which cause intense oral irritation along with burning, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing in cats. If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of this plant, seek medical attention immediately.


5. Sago Palm

Sago Palm is a common outdoor plant in most tropical areas. Certain types are also kept as houseplants. According to ASPCA, all these plants are highly toxic to cats since they contain a poisonous substance known as cycasin, which causes severe liver damage in cats. The seeds are the deadliest if ingested since they have the highest concentration of cycasin.

Symptoms of Sago Palm poisoning include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, increased thirst, liver failure, and even death in extreme cases.

sago palm
Image Credit: Pixabay

6. Oleander

Oleander is a common indoor and outdoor plant due to its bright pink and white blooms. It typically grows in warm temperate climates. These plants are toxic to cats since they contain a cardiac glycoside substance that interferes with electrolyte balance and affects heart and nerve system function, leading to heart rhythm abnormalities and blood pressure changes.

Some other symptoms include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and body tremors. Cat owners should avoid planting these plants and bringing flowers into their homes.


7. Tulips and Hyacinths

Tulips are a favorite flower for most people, and they often have it either potted or in a vase somewhere in the home. The bulb contains toxic glycosides that cause several issues in cats including vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. They can also lead to tremors, difficulty breathing, and heart palpitations if consumed in huge quantities. The highest concentration of toxin is present in the bulb. However, cats can get exposed to these toxins when they ingest any part of the tulip or hyacinth.

tulips
Image Credit Couleur, Pixabay

8. Narcissus

Narcissus, also known as jonquil, comprises several flowering perennial plants. All these plants contain a toxic substance known as lycorine, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and abdominal pain. Like tulips, the bulb is the most toxic part of the plant. Cats can experience low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and convulsions in severe cases.

Cat owners should prevent planting plants in this genus or bringing them inside their houses. If you notice your cat exhibiting these symptoms, you should immediately take them to the vet.


9. Azaleas

The Azalea is a common garden plant in most parts of the U.S. It contains grayanotoxins in all parts, including the leaves and stems, that cause vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite in cats if ingested. This toxin can also cause heart failure in severe cases. The risk of planting Azaleas is not worth it if you have cats. If you must plant this plant species in your garden, fence around it or find another way to keep your cat away.

Rhododendron
Image Credit: manfredrichter, Pixabay

10. Cyclamen

Cyclamen, or Persian Violet, is a genus containing over 20 flowering plant species. They are popular indoor plants due to their bright-colored blooms and easy maintenance. All parts of the plant, especially the tubers and roots, have a poisonous substance called saponin, which is toxic to cats if ingested.

The toxin causes severe symptoms, including drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea, when ingested in small amounts. Consuming in large quantities can lead to abnormal heart palpitations, severe seizures, and even death.


11. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is common in most homes because of its medical and aromatic properties. It is dangerous for cats and can lead to seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and confusion, whether it’s dry or fresh. Eucalyptus-based essential oils can also have the same effects.

If you notice these symptoms, you should take your cat to the vet before the toxins start affecting vital organs like the liver and kidneys. Some cats are more resistant to eucalyptus poisoning than others, but it’s best not to take chances.

eucalyptus plant
Image Credit: photoPOU, Shutterstock

12. Tomatoes

While your cat may enjoy eating ripe tomatoes from time to time, the tomato leaves, stems, and unripe tomatoes contain a toxin that negatively affects your cat’s system. These toxins can also lead to gastrointestinal problems for your cat. If you must plant tomatoes, ensure you grow them in a greenhouse where your cat cannot access them.

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What Should You Do if Your Cat Has Eaten Toxic Plants?

If you notice your cat has ingested a toxic plant, contact your vet first. They will give you the next steps to follow. However, there are also several things you can do before heading to the veterinary clinic. They include the following:

  • Bagging a plant sample to show your vet. You can also take photos of the plant and note which part of the plant the cat chewed. If you are unsure of the specific plant your cat has ingested, you can bag their vomit or stool and take it with you.
  • Remove any piece of plant bit around or inside your cat’s mouth and ensure it does not ingest more. You should also move your cat to another room before taking it to the vet.
  • Give them water to dilute the toxins or rinse their mouth —some toxins also make your cat severely dehydrated. However, you should only do this after getting the go-ahead from your vet.

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Conclusion

Your vet will use the samples or photos you bring in to identify the plant and the toxins your cat has ingested. The next cause of action will be either administering oral drugs, pumping your cat’s stomach, or putting them on a drip. The treatment option will depend on the type and the amount of toxins in your cat’s body, along with the severity of the signs.

After taking your cat to the vet, you must remove these plants from your home to prevent the incident from reoccurring.


Featured Image Credit: Luisella Planeta Leoni, Pixabay

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