Beautiful But Deadly: 20 Plants That Are Poisonous To Cats

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Beautiful But Deadly

Greenery and cats often sound like a love story but cat owners should know that this is actually a nightmare! Unfortunately, there are plants that are poisonous to cats. What will be toxic for the cat will sometimes be the leaf, the trunk, the root, or even the flower or the bulb. So, when in doubt, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.  So how do you prevent your cat from being poisoned? Let’s find out. 

Plants That Are Poisonous To Cats (Replacement and Substitute Included)

Is My Cat Poisoned By A Plant?

According to Petmd, if cats show irritation such as redness, swelling or itchiness of the eyes, skin or mouth then the plants in your home might be causing this irritation. A more serious situation occurs when they start vomiting or have diarrhea as plants irritate parts of the gastrointestinal tract, like the stomach and intestines. If your cat has ingested a plant and has symptoms such as breathing difficulties, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, convulsions, loss of balance, listlessness, excessive thirst, blue tongue, drooling, etc. Go very quickly to consult your veterinarian!

To avoid aggravating the situation, do not force your cat to drink or vomit. Leave it to the vet!! Write down the names of the plants you have at home. If you don’t know the name of the plant your cat ate, take it with you or at least a leaf.

Plants That Are Poisonous To Cats In Short:

With that being said, let’s find out which plants are the most poisonous to cats. You must absolutely avoid these in your interiors. 

  • Ficus 
  • Yucca 
  • Monstera deliciosa or Philodendron 
  • Laurel 
  • Aloe 
  • Sansevieria (mother-in-law’s tongue) 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Caladium 
  • Strelitzia Nicolaï (bird of paradise) 
  • Dieffenbachia 
  • Scindapsus 
  • Anthurium 
  • Croton 
  • Lily of the valley 
  • Iris 
  • Hydrangea 
  • Amaryllis 
  • Cyclamen 
  • Lily 
  • Tulip 
  • Rhododendron, Azalea 
  • Arum 
  • Poinsettia 
  • Holly 
  • Mistletoe 
  • Boxwood
  • Anthurium

20 Plants That Are Poisonous To Cats

1. Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas are usually planted as outdoor ornamental foliage, but they are also found in flower arrangements or indoors in a pot. If your cat takes a bite of this plant, it could suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and possibly cardiac arrest.

Toxic component: Grayanotoxin

Replace with: for a similar dose of color and a safe alternative, opt for a red camellia!

2. Dieffenbachia

There are several kinds of dieffenbachia. Unfortunately, these plants are all toxic to cats. According to the ASPCA, ingestion of dumb canes could cause oral irritation, intense burning sensation of the mouth, tongue and lips, intense salivation, difficulty swallowing and vomiting. If you suspect your cat has consumed this plant, call a poison control center and/or your veterinarian for immediate assistance.

Toxic components: Calcium oxalate crystals, proteolytic enzymes

Replace with: maranta is very similar to mute canes, but safe and vet approved.

3. Peace lily ( spathiphyllum )

This houseplant is beautiful, but can be very toxic — even deadly — to cats, says veterinarian Shelly Zacharias. “If your cat is eating peace lilies, urine and blood tests will need to be done several times over a period of a few days,” says Dr. Zacharias. The vet may suggest a plan to observe kidney function, or long-term therapy depending on the results. 

Toxic components: calcium oxalate crystals

Replace with: instead of lilies, opt for a white orchid. It is beautiful, non-toxic to pets and surprisingly easy to care for.

4. Amaryllis ( hippeastrum )

These stunning flowers don’t just attract humans; cats may also be interested in these huge, vibrantly colored flowers, often found in flower arrangements or planted in gardens. According to the ASPCA when your felines chew this type of lily, they could end up with stomach aches, intense salivation, tremors, diarrhea, vomiting as well as a loss of appetite.

Toxic component: Lycorine.

Replace with: Orchids provide a refreshing dose of color and are safe for cats. If you buy a potted orchid, it will last even longer.

5. Japanese cycas ( cycas revoluta )

Although palm trees instantly add a tropical vibe to a room, not all of them are safe for Kitty. The Japanese cycad contains cycasin, which is extremely toxic to cats, notes the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Cycasin should be avoided at all costs since it can cause gastrointestinal and liver damage, sometimes even leading to death. The smaller the animal, the more it will be affected.

Toxic component: Cycasin

Replace with: For a similar tropical style, try saw palmetto. This bright green plant is also known as the mountain palm.

6. Tulip ( Tulipa ) and Hyacinth

Tulips – a great spring classic, are among the most toxic plants for cats. According to Dr. Zacharias, even though the bulbs have a high concentration of toxins, the plant is still poisonous. Its ingestion could cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea and hypersalivation. Consult your veterinarian immediately to control the symptoms.

Toxic component: Tulipalin A and B

Replace your tulips with another spring favorite: peonies. This delicate flower, also known as the Japanese camellia, will offer that dose of pastel that we want to give to our garden when the days get warmer.

7. Eucalyptus

Popular for its soothing scented leaves, eucalyptus should not be placed near a cat. “When a cat eats enough eucalyptus leaves to make it sick, you may see salivation, vomiting, decreased appetite and diarrhea,” says JustAnswer veterinarian Jo Myers. 

She also says that the symptoms are usually minor which subsite without treatment within 24 hours. More importantly, eucalyptol found in essential oils (which have a higher concentration) should be used sparingly if a cat is in the house.

Toxic component: Eucalyptol

Replace with: rosemary, also known for its wonderful fragrance, is an ideal substitute for eucalyptus. 

8. Elephant ear ( alocasia amazonica)

With its exotic-looking leaves, it’s no wonder the alocasia is such a popular plant. Unfortunately, this herb contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause kidney failure, according to the ASPCA. 

Toxic components: Calcium oxalate crystals

Replace with: Calathea veitchiana, in addition to offering the same exotic look and intense green foliage, is perfectly safe for your cat. It is an easy to maintain plant perfect for gardening novices.

9. Jade tree ( crassula ovata )

Also known as a symbol of luck or wealth, the Jade tree could cause vomiting, neurological symptoms like disorientation, and sometimes even depression, says Dr. Zacharias. The toxic component is still unknown to date, it is still important to consult a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat of having eaten this plant. “Only if it is not neurologically weakened, that is to say if it does not seem to lack coordination, the de-poisoning treatment will consist of making the animal vomit. Treatments also include activated charcoal, intravenous fluids and close monitoring,” says Dr. Zacharias.

Toxic component: Unknown

Replace with: Haworthia retusa has the same thick, juicy leaf as the Jade tree, but is not toxic to cats.

10. Aloe vera

While aloe vera is often a plant found in most homes – especially in the kitchen, where its medicinal benefits may be close at hand – it can be toxic to cats. The gel in aloe is considered edible when extracted, but the thick substance covering it can cause gastrointestinal upset (such as vomiting), lethargy and diarrhea, says the ASPCA.

Toxic components: Saponins, anthraquinones

Replace with: zebra haworthia is smaller, but offers the same kind of look as aloe vera. Available in several different sizes and colors, these succulents are easy to maintain.

11. Scindapsus ( epipremnum aureum)

This plant is known by several names like pothos and golden pothos. Dr. Zacharias explains: “It contains calcium oxalate crystals which cause irritation to the mouth, throat, tongue and lip, in addition to an intense burning sensation, excessive salivation, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

Toxic components: Calcium oxalate crystals

Replace with: Chinese money plant from the Pilea family is non-toxic to cats and looks like English ivy. As a bonus, these types of plants could bring good feng shui to the home.

12. Hydrangea ( hydrangea )

Hydrangeas are popular for their bright colors, but could make your cat sick. If eaten they can get sick with symptoms that show within hours of consumption. Many cats may feel nauseous, vomit or salivate profusely. Diarrhea could follow, and the stools could contain a lot of blood.

Toxic component: Cyanogenic glycoside

Replace with: Available in a wide variety of colors, zinnias are a great non-toxic alternative to hydrangeas.

13. Cyclamen

Also known as Persian violet and sowbread, this plant is capable of making pets drool, vomit, and suffer diarrhea but if a cat eats large quantities of cyclamen, it can experience abnormal heart rate and rhythm, seizures and death. Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp.) belongs to more than 20 species of perennial flowering plants but they cannot be kept indoors. 

Toxic components: Saponins

Replace with: Peonies or zinnias are great non-toxic alternatives to Cyclamen. 

14. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue ( Sansevieria trifasciata )

Mother-in-law’s tongue is a very popular and easy to care for plant. However, these plants contain chemical compounds called saponins. Ingestion of these can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in cats. If you suspect your cat has chewed or ingested mother-in-law’s tongue leaves, call your veterinarian or a help center immediately. You will be given instructions on the procedure to follow, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Toxic components: Saponins

Replace with: With its attractive pointed leaves, Calathea lancifolia is a non-toxic plant that looks a lot like mother-in-law’s tongue. It is sometimes called the rattlesnake plant.

15. Japanese wisteria

Although Japanese wisteria is known for its beauty and fragrance, cat owners should steer clear when it comes to this pretty purple-flowered plant. Although the effects after ingestion are not as severe as other herbs, cats may experience gastrointestinal disturbances which may lead to vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes bloody), or even depression.

Toxic components: Lectin, glycoside

Replace with: petunias, which you’ll also find in a beautiful shade of purple, are safe for your cats.

16. Large-flowered purslane ( portulaca grandiflora )

This flowering plant is also known as market purslane or porcellane, so be careful when shopping. Despite its beauty, this houseplant is extremely toxic to cats – even deadly – ​​and should be avoided at all costs. It can cause tremors, kidney failure and hypersalivation. If your cat ingests it, you should seek medical attention immediately. “Treatments will include forced vomiting, gastrointestinal decontamination, intravenous fluid injection for a minimum of one to three days, and other supportive treatments,” says Dr. Zacharias.

Toxic components: Calcium oxalate crystals

Replace with: If you want a colorful plant, try the African daisy instead. It is also known as African daisy or rain marigold.

17. Parsley ( petroselinum crispum )

Often used as a garnish in meals and incredibly easy to grow in small spaces, parsley is unfortunately not an ideal plant if you’re a cat owner. Like other plants on this list, its toxicity is not as pronounced as others. However, it could, when consumed in large quantities, cause photosensitivity which would make your cat more vulnerable to sunburn, according to the ASPCA.

Toxic components: Furocoumarins

Substitute: Sometimes mistaken for parsley, cilantro is an alternative you may grow. 

18. Chrysanthemums ( chrysanthemum )

This is another colorful flowering plant that should be kept away from cats due to its poisonous components. Their consumption could cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, incoordination and dermatitis (a skin reaction). “Immediate veterinary treatment will be required,” says Dr. Zacharias. Treatments consist of controlling symptoms with medication, a bath if the skin is infected, and possibly intravenous fluid therapy.

Toxic components: Sesquiterpenes, lactones, pyrethrins, and other potential irritants

Replace with: With their brightly colored blooms and lush foliage, African violets are a great and safe alternative to chrysanthemums.

19. Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)

Also known as meadow saffron or naked lady, this ornamental flower plant is poisonous to dogs, cats and horses. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, all parts of the plant are highly toxic.

Toxic components: Alkaloid colchicine 

Replace with: If you want a colorful plant, try the African daisy instead. It is also known as African daisy or rain marigold.

20. Tomato plants ( Solanum Lycopersicum )

From the Solanaceae family, tomato plants contain a substance called solanine, which is toxic to animals. Green vines and fruits that are not ripened are poisonous and, when ingested, can cause salivation, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems, decreased heart rate and dilated pupils, notes the ASPCA.

Toxic component: Solanines

Replace with: It’s best to keep your tomato plants on the patio or in the garden – that is, away from your pets. If you want to grow a fruiting vines plant indoors, try butternut squash instead. While many squashes require a large space, butternut squash prefers tighter locations indoors when planted in a deep pot with direct access to sunlight and moist soil.

How To Prevent Your Cat From Eating Plants?

The first piece of advice, as you can imagine, is to not have these dangerous plants and flowers at home! Otherwise, it is absolutely necessary to put plants toxic to cats out of reach of your little feline! Either in an inaccessible room, or very high up, where your cat will not be able to climb. Finally, on a lighter note, don’t worry, offer catnip which is a natural plant that he can eat as he pleases!

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