Cats are curious creatures, and while most homeowners like the look of a bouquet of flowers or a pretty houseplant, it’s important to be careful about your plant-decor choices when you have a feline friend wandering around. Is baby’s breath toxic to cats? What about the daffodils in your front yard? The severity of your cat’s reaction will vary – some plants will cause vomiting and diarrhea while others can dramatically affect the function of your cat’s organs. Here’s what you need to know about the flowers that are toxic to cats.
8 Common Flowers That Are Toxic to Cats
Here are some of the most common flowers that are toxic to cats. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you aren’t sure about a plant that you find in a gifted bouquet or your yard, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Here are some flowers that can definitely make your pet sick if ingested:
- Baby’s Breath
- Lily (also Peace Lily and Lily of the Valley)
Azalea Is Moderately Toxic for Cats
Azalea is commonly found in many American yards and it is part of the rhododendron plant family. All rhododendrons are poisonous for cats, with azaleas only moderately toxic for your feline friend. Cats might be inclined to chew on all parts of the plant and ingestion can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. In serious cases, consuming azalea might impact a cat’s central nervous system and cardiovascular system.
All rhododendron plants contain grayanotoxins, and other members of this plant family can cause different reactions, with some more severe than azalea consumption.
Is Baby’s Breath Toxic to Cats?
Baby’s breath is a popular addition to bouquets of cut flowers and also a commonly found weed in many yards. It is moderately toxic to cats and can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat consumes any part of the baby’s breath plant, you might also notice lethargy or a lack of energy and your cat might even stop eating. While these symptoms are not serious in their own right, if they continue unchecked they can become critical. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat has consumed any part of the baby’s breath plant.
Chrysanthemum Is Specifically Toxic to Cats
While this beautiful bloom actually contains pyrethrins, which are used in flea and tick medications for canines, that same ingredient can be highly toxic for your feline friend. Because these flowers are colorful and bright, they are popular in both bouquets and as a planted yard decoration. If your cat consumes any part of a chrysanthemum, they might become uncoordinated or show some kind of skin reaction such as dermatitis. Other common symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea may occur, and like azaleas, this flower can cause lethargy or loss of appetite in your cat.
Some Daisies Are Safe for Cats, and Others Are Toxic
As a group, not all daisies are toxic for cats. Some, including African daisies and the Easter daisy, are completely safe for your feline friends and can be displayed in your home during spring or year-round. Other daisies, though, can be very dangerous – some that should not be kept around your cat include the dog daisy, poison daisy, seaside daisy, and showy daisy. These daisies contain sesquiterpene, which is an irritant that causes excess saliva production, vomiting, diarrhea, and even internal bleeding and hemorrhaging in severe cases. Another toxin in daisies called pyrethrins can be absorbed into a cat’s bloodstream and cause neurological symptoms such as poor coordination, trouble breathing, and sometimes death.
The Common Daffodil Is a Yard Risk for Cats
Daffodils often blanket yards and meadows in the spring season across the US, and might even get brought in as a pretty bouquet to decorate the dinner table. Unfortunately, these pretty and easily accessible flowers can present a toxic risk for your cat.
Daffodils are part of the Narcissus family, sometimes called jonquils or paperwhites. Every part of the plant contains lycorine, which is toxic to cats, but cats get an especially concentrated dose of this toxin if they consume daffodil bulbs. Cats who have come into contact with daffodils might experience abdominal cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive salivation. In severe cases, this toxin can impact a cat’s breathing, blood pressure, heart function, and even cause seizures.
Lilies Are a Well-Loved Flower That Is Toxic to Cats
Lilies are so toxic to cats that if your cat even comes in contact with a vase of water where lilies were once placed, they can experience a toxic reaction. Every part of the plant is highly toxic to cats, so much so that your cat can have a severe reaction from licking lily pollen off their fur or taking a tiny nibble of the lily leaf or petal.
What’s especially notable about lilies is that dogs who consume this flower may become a little sick, but they don’t suffer the severe reaction that is unique to cats. The major risk with lilies is kidney failure, which can happen within days of consumption. Other symptoms of lily poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargy. These symptoms may take up to 12 hours to develop, and it may take up to 24 hours for your cat to show signs of kidney problems, such as increased urination.
Other types of lilies, such as the peace lily and lily of the valley, are less likely to cause kidney failure in cats but are still toxic and will cause some negative symptoms. In general, it’s best to avoid lilies altogether if you have a cat.
The Popular Christmas Poinsettia Might Make Your Cat Sick
The popular, bright red poinsettia can make your kitty sick, no matter how pretty they look on your holiday mantle. Because these are popular gifts during the Christmas season, it’s important to think about a family’s pet members before giving these plants out. If you have cats in your home, avoid keeping poinsettias around because they can cause vomiting and drooling. Other symptoms sometimes include a red rash or pink eye.
Tulips Are Dangerous to Cats
Tulips are part of the same family of flowers as the dangerous lily, so they should be avoided in households with feline members. These plants are popular in both gardens and flower arrangements, so it’s important that cat owners are vigilant about checking their home and yard for tulips. As with daffodils, the bulb of the tulip will create the most severe reaction because it has the highest concentration of tulipalin A and B, the compounds that will make your cat sick. These compounds are present in all parts of the flower, though, so keep all forms of tulip away from your kitty.
What to Do If Your Cat Encounters a Toxic Plant or Flower
Cats can become sick even from licking or chewing on leaves, blooms, or stems of a toxic flower. They don’t necessarily have to ingest a part of the plant to become sick (though ingestion likely means they will take in a more concentrated amount of the toxin, making their reaction more severe). Here’s what to do when your cat encounters a toxic flower.
If You Aren’t Sure, Watch for Symptoms
One of the most dangerous things about having flowers that are toxic to cats is that you might not know for sure if your pet has ingested some of the plant. Sometimes, you might find your cat lurking around a shelf where you keep your plants and wonder if they’ve had a little taste when you weren’t looking. A cat that has ingested a toxic plant will likely develop symptoms ranging from lethargy and loss of appetite to more serious signs such as coma, internal bleeding, and seizures.
Call Poison Control Immediately
If you start to notice mild symptoms such as dermatitis or loss of appetite, call the poison control hotline operated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If your cat’s symptoms are mild, the hotline operator can help you make decisions about next steps depending on factors like what you think your cat has consumed, how long it’s been since their encounter with the plant, and the distance to your nearest treatment center.
Don’t Hesitate to Take Your Cat to the Nearest Clinic or Veterinary Office
If you are concerned about your cat’s symptoms and they seem to be worsening, don’t hesitate to take your cat into the clinic. In many cases of poisoning, the sooner you get care for your feline, the better. Be sure to take a cutting of the flower you think your cat may have consumed (preferably a cutting of the part they might have nibbled or licked). This will help your veterinarian with diagnostic and care decisions.
Keep Your Home and Yard Safe for Your Cat
The best approach when it comes to flowers that are toxic to cats is to keep them out of your home and yard. While a bouquet of flowers is a lovely gift, be sure it doesn’t contain anything dangerous to your cat before setting it out on the table. If your cat spends time outdoors, do regular walk-throughs of your yard to make sure dangerous weeds or flowers haven’t cropped up that could put your cat at risk. If you have plants with sentimental value that are dangerous for your cat, be sure to keep them out of reach – a task that can be challenging with a particularly curious and agile feline friend!
If your cat consumes baby’s breath or another toxic flower, don’t panic. Monitor them closely, gather information and a clipping of the plant, and consult the experts. Cats will often recover completely from a toxic encounter with plants if treated in time, but diligence is important.