Striking as they are, lilies are one of the most toxic plants to cats
Most of us are surrounded by plants, both wild and cultivated, in our homes and gardens and come to no harm. However, a small percentage of these plants have the potential to cause harm to ourselves and our cats.
What are the risks?
Most cats are fastidious creatures and are careful about what they eat. Poisoning in cats is therefore generally rare. It is the young inquisitive cat or kitten that is most at risk of eating harmful plants, particularly household ones. Boredom also has a part to play. When a cat is confined to a run or lives entirely indoors, hazardous plants should be removed from its environment. Cats given free access to the outside world tend to have other things to occupy their minds than sampling unfamiliar vegetation. But even free-roaming adult cats may accidentally ingest needles or seeds that have become entangled in their coat during grooming.
All plants, even grass, can have an irritating effect on a cat’s gastrointestinal system causing it to vomit. But, given the opportunity, cats like to nibble on grass. When not available, their attention may turn to less suitable household plants. Particularly dangerous are Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), and lilies, which are popular in bouquets and flower arrangements.
Remove all potentially hazardous household plants to prevent unnecessary exposure. This is especially important for kittens and for cats kept indoors. A list of plants that are unsuitable for a house with cats is given overleaf.
Outdoors the story is not so simple. Free-roaming cats have access to many gardens so it will be impossible to prevent all possible contact with potentially harmful plants. You can, however, remove the most toxic plants from your garden and make a note of any in your neighbours’ gardens that are potentially dangerous. List common and Latin names. This list may help your vet if poisoning is suspected.
You can also ensure that any new additions to the garden are safe. The Horticultural Trade Association has a code of practice for its members, and most garden centres and nurseries label plants that are toxic or cause skin reactions. Plants are grouped into three categories:
A Poisonous; B Toxic if eaten; and C Harmful if eaten. You are unlikely to find a category A plant on sale – Poison Ivy being one example. Category B plants should be avoided.
After gardening, never leave hedge clippings or uprooted plants near pets. Their novelty value may encourage inquisitive chewing. Sap from damaged stems can cause skin irritation as well as being poisonous. Bulbs, rhizomes and roots can be the most hazardous parts of some plants.
Has my cat been poisoned?
A veterinary surgeon should be contacted immediately if your cat suddenly collapses, has repeated vomiting or severe diarrhoea, or shows signs of excessive irritation (redness, swelling, blistering or rawness) of the skin of the mouth or throat. Cats that are lethargic and off their food for a day or more may also have ingested something unsuitable and professional help should be sought. If you see your cat eat something that you suspect to be poisonous, do not attempt to make the cat vomit. Take the cat to the vet with a sample of the plant – or even better a plant label. This will help the vet to find a treatment or antidote to the poison. Make a note of the time of eating and any symptoms. Several days may pass between the ingestion of the undesirable material and the effects.
It is more common for plants to cause skin irritation in gardeners than to poison them. Contact with the leaves, stems or sap of certain plants can cause rashes and
hypsensitivity to sunlight resulting in sunburn. In cats these plants may cause blistering or itching of the mouth and gums. Occasionally this is misdiagnosed as gingivitis.
Sneezing and eye problems can also be caused through contact with these plants. Contact with the leaves of food plants such as tomato, strawberry, rhubarb, parsnips, carrot, celery, marrow and cucumbers may all potentially affect the cat in this way. Geranium and Primula leaves can also cause similar skin irritation. Many plants that are poisonous when eaten may also have the potential to cause skin irritation on contact with their leaves or sap. These are indicated in the list overleaf.
The following is a fairly comprehensive list of plants that are potentially poisonous or harmful to your cat when eaten. Contact with some of the plants listed may be sufficient to cause skin irritation (marked*). It is often the fruit or seeds of plants that are potentially harmful. Many of us are already familiar with plants that carry really toxic berries such as Deadly Nightshade. Only a small quantity of these need to be eaten for a fatal result. Other plants in the list may come as a surprise – Daffodils, for example. Here, however, it is the bulb that causes harm if ingested.
The fact that the list contains some very common plants should not be cause for concern. Most of these potentially harmful plants taste bad and are unlikely to be eaten in sufficient quantities to cause permanent damage. Woody garden plants are also unlikely to be eaten by your cat – tender household plants pose most risk.
Castor Oil Plant (also see Ricinus)
Christmas Cherry (also see Solanum)
Chrysanthemum (also see
Croton (also see Codiaeum)
Devil’s Ivy (also see Epipremnum aureum)
Dumb Cane (also see Dieffenbachia)
Elephant’s Ear (also see Alocasia,
Holly (also see Ilex)
Ivy (also see Hedera)
Mistletoe (also see Viscum)
Oleander (also see Nerium oleander)
Star of Bethlehem (also see
Umbrella Plant (also see Schefflera)
Zebra Plant (also see Aphelandra)Garden plants
Angel’s Trumpets (also see
Angel Wings (also see Caladium)
Apricot (also see Prunus armeniaca)
Avocado (also see Persea americana)
Azalea (also see Rhododendron)
Baneberry (also see Actaea)
Bird of Paradise (also see Strelitzia)
Black-eyed Susan (also see
Bloodroot (also see Sanguinaria)
Box (also see Buxus)
Broom (also see Cytisus)
Buckthorn (also see Rhamnus)
Burning Bush (also see Dictamnus)
Buttercup (also see Ranunculus)
Cherry Laurel (also see Prunus
Chincherinchee (also see
Chrysanthemum (also see
Columbine (also see Aquilegia)
Corncockle (also see Agrostemma
Cornflower (also see Centaurea
Crocus (also see Colchicum)
X Cupressocyparis leylandii*
Daffodil (also see Narcissus)
Elder (also see Sambucus)
False Acacia (also see Robinia)
Flax (also see Linum)
Four O’Clock (also see Mirabilis jalapa)
Foxglove (also see Digitalis)
Frangula (also see Rhamnus)
Giant Hog Weed (also see Heracleum
Glory Lily (also see Gloriosa superba)
Hemlock (also see Conium)
Henbane (also see Hyoscyamus)
Holly (also see Ilex)
Horse Chestnut (also see Aesculus)
Ivy (also see Hedera)
Larkspur (also see Delphinium)
Lily of the Valley (also see Convallaria
Lobelia* (except bedding Lobelia)
Lords and Ladies (Cuckoo Pint) (also
Madagascar Periwinkle (also see
Marigold (also see Tagetes)
Monks Wood (also see Aconitum)
Morning Glory (also see Ipomoea)
Nightshade, Deadly (also see Atropa)
Nightshade, Woody (also see
Oak (also see Quercus)
Onion (also see Allium)
Peach (also see Prunus persica)
Peony (also see Paeonia)
Pokeweed (also see Phytolacca)
Poppy (also see Papaver)
Privet (also see Ligustrum)
Rhamnus (including R frangula)
Rosary Pea (also see Abrus
Rubber Plant (also see Ficus)
Rue (also see Ruta)
Skunk Cabbage (also see Lysichiton)
Snowdrop (also see Galanthus)
Solomon’s Seal (also see Polygonatum)
Spindle Tree (also see Euonymus)
Spurge (also see Euphorbia)
Sumach (also see Rhus)
Sweet Pea (also see Lathyrus)
Thornapple (also see Datura)
Tobacco (also see Nicotiana)
Tomato (also see Lycopersicon)
Yew (also see Taxus)* Contact with these plants may be sufficient to cause skin irritation
Plants Poisonous to dogs
Many types of plants and flowers can be poisonous to your dog. Effects range from mild to severe depending on the type of plant and the quantity consumed. Some plants will only cause slight stomach upset, while others can cause seizures, coma or even death. Learn about the plants in your yard and neighborhood that are dangerous and be sure your dog does not have access to them. Ideally, toxic plants on your own property should be removed. Houseplants are a bit easier to control – simply do not keep toxic plants inside your home and you have removed the risk. If you are planning to get new plants or flowers, research them ahead of time to learn whether or not they are toxic.
Find out what plants and flowers may be poisonous to dogs with the following list of common toxic plants and flowers. Please note that this is not a complete list. If you have a particular plant in mind for your home or yard, you should thoroughly research it first. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with a potential toxin, please contact your vet or animal poison control immediately.
|COMMON NAME||SCIENTIFIC NAME||SYMPTOMS WHEN INGESTED|
|Aloe||Aloe vera||vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, tremors, change in urine color|
|Amaryllis||Amaryllis sp.||vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, abdominal pain, excessive salivation, tremors|
|Apple and Crabapple||Malus sylvestrus||seeds, stems and leaves can result in red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, panting and shock|
|Autumn Crocus/Meadow Saffron||Colchicum autumnale||oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, organ damage, bone marrow suppression|
|Azalea/Rhododendron||Rhododendron spp.||vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, weakness, coma, death|
|Calla Lily/Trumpet Lily/Arum Lily||Zantedeschia aethiopica||oral irritation and pain, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing|
|Castor Bean/Castor Oil Plant||Ricinus communis||oral irritation and burning, increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, convulsions; Note: beans are highly toxic|
|Chrysanthemum/Mum/Daisy||Chrysanthemum spp.||vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, loss of coordination, dermatitis|
|Cyclamen||Cyclamen spp.||excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, seizures, death|
|Daffodil/Narcissus||Narcissus spp.||vomiting, salvation, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, heart arrhythmias|
|Dumbcane||Dieffenbachia||oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing|
|Elephant Ears||Caladium hortulanum and Colocasia esculenta||oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing|
|English Ivy||Hedera helix||vomiting, abdominal pain, excessive salivation, diarrhea|
|Foxglove||Digitalis purpurea||heart arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, death|
|Hosta||Hosta plataginea||vomiting, diarrhea, depression|
|Hyacinth||Hyacinthus orientalis||vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors|
|Hydrangea||Hydrangea arborescens||vomiting, diarrhea, depression|
|Iris||Iris species||excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy|
|Lily of the Valley||Convallaria majalis||vomiting, irregular heart beat, low blood pressure, disorientation, coma, seizures|
|Marijuana/Hashish||Cannabis sativa||depression, vomiting, loss of coordination, excessive salivation, dilated pupils, low blood pressure, low body temperature, seizure, coma|
|Mistletoe/American Mistletoe||Phoradendron flavescens||gastrointestinal complications, cardiovascular collapse, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, behavior changes, vomiting, diarrhea|
|Oleander||Nerium oleander||vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, shallow/difficult breathing, muscle tremors, collapse, cardiac failure|
|Peace Lily||Spathiphyllum||oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing|
|Philodendron||Philodendron spp||oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing|
|Pothos/Devil’s Ivy||Epipremnum aureum||oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing|
|Sago Palm||Cycas revoluta, zamia species||vomiting, black (tarry) stools, jaundice, increased thirst, bruising, blood clotting problems, liver damage, death|
|Schefflera||Schefflera||oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing|
|Tobacco||Nicotiana glauca||hyperexcitability then depression, vomiting, loss of coordination, paralysis|
|Tulip||Tulipa species||vomiting, depression, diarrhea, excessive salivation|
|Yew/Japanese Yew||Taxus sp.||sudden death from acute cardiac failure (early signs include muscular tremors, difficulty breathing, seizures|