A Guide to Plants Toxic to Cats

Beware the Greenery

      Cats, with their curious nature, often find themselves exploring every nook and cranny of their homes, including the potted plants adorning windowsills and corners. While plants bring natural beauty indoors, it's crucial for cat owners to be aware of the potential hazards lurking in their greenery. Many common plants can be toxic to cats, causing a range of health issues from mild discomfort to severe poisoning. In this article, we'll delve into some plants that can pose a threat to our feline companions.

1. Lilies (Lilium spp. and Hemerocallis spp.): Lilies, known for their elegant blooms, are highly toxic to cats. Ingesting any part of the plant, including leaves, flowers, or pollen, can lead to severe kidney damage and even be fatal. Immediate veterinary attention is crucial if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lily.
2. Philodendron (Philodendron spp.): Philodendrons are popular houseplants due to their attractive foliage, but they contain oxalates that can cause irritation and swelling in a cat's mouth, throat, and digestive tract. Ingesting philodendron can lead to symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
3. Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp.): Also known as the dumb cane, Dieffenbachia contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing. In severe cases, it may lead to swelling, making it challenging for cats to breathe.
4. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): Pothos, a common trailing houseplant, contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. Ingesting this plant can result in oral irritation, excessive drooling, and gastrointestinal upset. While not usually fatal, it can cause discomfort for your feline friend.
5. Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller): While aloe vera is known for its soothing properties for humans, it can be harmful to cats. Ingesting aloe vera may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. It's crucial to keep aloe vera products out of reach, as cats may be tempted to chew on the plant.
6. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta): The sago palm, a popular ornamental plant, is highly toxic to cats. Ingesting any part of the plant, especially the seeds, can result in severe liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. Immediate veterinary attention is essential if you suspect sago palm poisoning.
7. Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale): The autumn crocus contains colchicine, a substance that can cause severe gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, kidney and liver damage, and in extreme cases, can be fatal. Even a small amount of ingestion can have serious consequences.
8. Azalea (Rhododendron spp.): Azaleas contain grayanotoxins, which can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and, in severe cases, potential cardiovascular issues. Immediate veterinary attention is crucial if your cat has ingested any part of an azalea.

      Cats are known for their inquisitive nature, making it essential for cat owners to be proactive in identifying and removing toxic plants from their homes. Regularly check the ASPCA's list of toxic plants and consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your home remains a safe and green haven for your feline friends. Awareness and preventative measures are key to ensuring your cats can coexist safely with the greenery that enhances your living space.

Back to blog