Poisonous Plants Every Cat Owner Should Avoid


Houseplants have always been a popular way to bring the outside in. These have become so popular recently that many attribute the COVID-19 pandemic as the driver for houseplant sales to go through the roof. In fact, recent studies show that 66% of all American households own at least one houseplant. With more people now having plants at home than ever before, so many people are taking advantage of this beautiful way to add some color and life to your indoor oasis.

While it’s easy to find indoor plants when shopping, it is not as easy to determine which ones are in fact safe for your four-legged family members. A lot of people now know that there are many plants that are actually dangerous for pets, so if you’re looking to buy a new plant for your home, it’s important you do your homework before making a purchase to ensure the plant is not poisonous to your cat or dog.

Most poisonous plants to cats

  • Below is the AVMA list of some of the most commonly grown greenery that should be kept away from plants.
  • Certain types of lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species) are highly toxic to cats, resulting in kidney failure — even if only small amounts are ingested.
  • Lily of the Valley, oleander, yew, foxglove, and kalanchoe may cause heart problems if ingested.
  • Sago palms (Cycas species) can cause severe intestinal problems, seizures and liver damage, especially if the nut portion of the plant is consumed.
  • Azaleas, rhododendrons and tulip/narcissus bulbs can cause intestinal upset, weakness, depression, heart problems, coma and death.
  • Castor beans can cause severe intestinal problems, seizures, coma, and death. Other plants that can cause intestinal upset include cyclamen, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, pothos, English ivy, philodendron, corn plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, hibiscus, hydrangea, peace lily and schefflera/schefflera.
  • Rhubarb leaves and shamrock contain substances that can produce kidney failure.
  • Fungi, such as certain types of mushrooms, can cause liver damage or other illnesses.
Another great resource for determining poisonous plants for pets is the ASPCA toxic and non-toxic plants list.

Other plants to be aware of

While plants like those listed above are important to avoid as part of your interior décor, there are also some flowers you will want to steer clear of. These include common flowers like daffodils, tulips, lilies, azaleas, and chrysanthemums. These vibrant flowers can add pops of color to your tables and bouquets but can also be dangerous if your cats get too close.

Signs your cat has been poisoned by a plant

Even if you do your due diligence to avoid poisonous plants inside your home, some may sneak in through seasonal bouquets or your cat may become exposed if they venture outside. While it may be hard to determine which part of the plant is toxic to cats, it’s safer to assume that all parts of it are poisonous, even if some parts may contain higher concentrations of a toxin. Some symptoms to keep an eye out for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, labored breathing, depression, appetite loss, and more.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it’s important that you take swift action and contact your veterinarian. Immediate care includes removing any plant material that you may find from your cat’s mouth, skin, and coat, keeping them confined and closely monitored, and contacting your veterinary office and either the pet poison helpline at 855-764-7661 or animal poison control at 888-426-4435.

Keep in mind that giving the name of the plant your cat potentially (or did) ingest is very important, so even if you don’t know what it is, bringing a sample with you in a Ziplock bag to your veterinarian’s office could make a difference. If you are ready to schedule your next vet appointment at the Bregman Veterinary Group, reach out to our team today.

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