Poisonous plants in cats

While it can be hard to control what plants our curious cats have access to when in the great outdoors, we can ensure they are kept safe when in our home and garden. Keeping their territory free of harmful plants can go a long way towards avoiding a disaster. Sadly, cats in the UK die every year from ingesting poisonous plants.

Are all plants a danger?

Not at all. In fact, many plants can offer enrichment to our cats. Consider planting some cat grass, basil or parsley in the home or garden. Cats love to munch on these and most enjoy the variety of tastes. Providing safe options can prevent your cat chowing down on things which they shouldn’t.

Which poisonous plants do I need to watch out for?

Frustratingly, there are quite a few plants that are a danger. Most, however, will cause a mild stomach upset if ingested. Cats will sometimes steer clear of toxic plants, though this is not always the case. Some of the worst offenders are:

  • Lilies. Not every variety of lily is toxic. Stargazers, Easter and Tiger lilies are just some example of the poisonous lilies that are out there. Brushing against these plants or even drinking the water from their vase can be problematic, thanks to how toxic they are. Sadly, cats can develop kidney failure and even pass away after ingestion of any part of these flowers.
  • Daffodils. This Spring perennial is present in many UK gardens and it is the bulb of the plant we have to worry about most. Most often, cats will suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea. In rarer instances, they may experience irregular heartbeats, tremors and even death.
  • Oleander. These hardy, flowering shrubs contain cardiac glycoside toxins which can lead to fatal heart arrhythmias (irregular rates or rhythms). All parts of this plant can be toxic.
  • Sago Palm. Some owners will keep these tropical plants potted inside or in greenhouses. However, if your cat gets access to them, they may start to experience vomiting, diarrhoea and even liver failure. Worryingly, survival rates have been quoted as about 50%.
  • Tulips. These beautiful, brightly-coloured flowers that are native to Turkey and Central Asia can be problematic for your feline. Tulipalin A and Tuilipalin B can be toxic and can be found concentrated within the bulb. Symptoms can include salivation, depression and tremors.

If you suspect that your kitty may have ingested a toxic plant, they should be seen by their vet right away. Often, the quicker treatment is started, the better the prognosis.