Which Flowers Are Poisonous To My Cat?
And which ones are safe 🌻
Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or just a random day where you want to treat yourself, it’s always nice to have a pretty bouquet of flowers in your home.
But the most important question is: Are they actually poisonous to your cat?
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Vanessa Spano, a veterinarian at Behavior Vets in New York City, to find out which flowers you should keep away from your BFF, and which ones are actually safe.
Why certain flowers are poisonous to cats
In order to know why you should keep certain blossoms away from your cat, it’s important to understand some of the science behind it.
“Glucuronidation … is the way with which many substances, such as drugs and toxins, are metabolized in the body to become more readily excreted out of the body by the kidneys or bile,” Dr. Spano told The Dodo.
And as it turns out, your cat actually doesn’t have some of the enzymes that help this process along in other animals.
“Many substances are actually cleared, or metabolized and then eliminated, from the body much slower in felines relative to other species, making them much more susceptible to the effects of the substances they ingest, including toxins,” Dr. Spano explained.
Flowers that are poisonous to cats
“Some flowering plants are safe for cats, but many are not,” Dr. Spano said. “Additionally, if a particular plant is considered ‘toxic’ for a kitty, I would consider all parts of that plant toxic, although some parts may be more poisonous than others.”
According to Dr. Spano, lilies and daylillies (which are actually two totally separate flowers) are some of the most poisonous flowers to cats, so make sure you steer clear of all of them.
“Believe it or not, even pollen from these lilies can lead to fatal effects, including acute kidney injury,” Dr. Spano explained.
Some other common household flowers that are toxic to cats include:
- Marijuana (yes, this is technically a flower)
“Please keep in mind, this is NOT a comprehensive list,” Dr. Spano said.
If you’re curious about other flowers that may not be listed here, the ASPCA has a super thorough list of plants (not just flowers) that are poisonous to your cat, so make sure to quadruple-check that.
“If there is ever a question as to whether or not a plant is toxic to any pet, my advice is to just not put the plant in your house,” Dr. Spano explained.
What happens if your cats eats a poisonous flower
“The effects of the poisonous substance can vary widely, from irritants to the mucosal lining of the oral cavity (which can lead to pain and drooling) to devastating kidney failure,” Dr. Spano said. “The amount required to ingest in order to lead to clinical signs also varies, and unfortunately for some flowers even very small amounts can be fatal.”
That means unless you catch your cat in the act, you might not even realize she ate part of a flower that’s toxic to her before it’s too late — which is why it’s best to keep dangerous plants totally out of your house.
“If you are fortunate to realize [that she did eat some], she MUST be taken to her closest emergency veterinarian hospital immediately,” Dr. Spano explained. “Unfortunately, the timeline with which the prognosis can go from good to poor may be very short.”
If your cat gets into some lilies, for example, it can take as little as 12 hours for her symptoms to go from depression and having no appetite to serious kidney injury.
“So long as [it’s] caught early enough, treatment will likely include hospitalization on intravenous fluids for a few days to flush these toxins out of the body ASAP,” Dr. Spano said. “This severe reaction may not happen with every plant considered poisonous; however these plants are considered ‘poisonous’ for a reason, and the cat should still be treated immediately.”
Dr. Spano also recommends having the number handy for the ASPCA Poison Control Center (and leaving it with any petsitters). You can reach the hotline at (888) 426-4435.
Flowers that are safe for cats
The list above list can seem daunting, but there is a silver lining: not all flowers are poisonous to cats.
According to the ASPCA, there are several flowers that aren’t toxic to your BFF, like:
- Roses (EXCEPT for Christmas roses, Easter roses and primroses, which aren’t technically part of the rose family but are actually poisonous to cats)
- Gerbera daisies — AKA African daisies
- Freesias (these are used as filler flowers a lot of the time, but are still pretty on their own)
- Limonium AKA statice (also filler flowers)
- Madagascar jasmine
- Waxflowers (another filler)
If your cat eats these, she might still have mild issues, but they won’t be life-threatening.
“If any pet ingests something that is not technically toxic, then side effects are very limited and perhaps mild gastrointestinal upset, like vomiting and diarrhea, may occur at most,” Dr. Spano explained. “That being said, anything can be made toxic to anyone, cats included, at inappropriate concentrations.” (Kind of like how your parents always told you that too much of anything is bad for you.)
So there are still plenty of cat-friendly bouquet options if you want to sweeten up your home a little, but the safest option is to avoid them altogether if you aren’t totally sure they’re safe (or if you have a cat who likes to get into everything).
“When in doubt, just get rid of the plant,” Dr. Spano said. “I have always had at least one cat, and I have never kept flowers in my home. I know they are pretty to look at, but my cats are more important. And cats will find ways to get to areas you may originally deem ‘inaccessible.’"
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