Pretty Deadly for Your Cat: 8 Toxic Plants Cat Owners Should Avoid

Houseplants are the pride of many homeowners. Plants inside the home have been shown to reduce indoor pollutants and freshen the air. Cut flowers from the florist can show someone that you care and brighten up a room. But all of this beauty can be deadly… if you have a cat.

Many houseplants are toxic to both cats and dogs. Some can cause mild digestive upset while others can cause irreversible organ damage and death. It is important for all pet owners to be aware of these toxic plants and avoid keeping them in their home. Cats are especially at risk for poisoning, as they are very curious creatures and can jump up high to reach almost any plant for tasting.

8 Common Toxic Plants:

1. Lily

Lilies are beautiful and many varieties make beautiful bouquets and houseplants. But if you own a cat, think again before introducing any variety of lily into your home or garden. All parts of the lily are deadly if eaten by cats, including the pollen. Pollen from cut lilies in floral arrangements have been known to cause death in cats. The toxic principle is still unknown to science but something in the lily causes acute kidney failure in cats. If you have lilies nearby and your cat begins to show signs such as vomiting, anorexia, lethargy and less urination – seek veterinary medical care immediately.

2. Amaryllis

The amaryllis plant has large, showy blooms in red, white and other colors. It is a common gift around Christmas and Easter each year and blooms both indoors and outdoors. The leaves and blooms are toxic to both cats and dogs, causing diarrhea, depression, vomiting, excessive salivation, abdominal pain, anorexia, and seizures, so you should definitely avoid this holiday gift.

3. Oleander

Oleander plants are common in subtropical and tropical areas as outdoor ornamentals. They have long, slender leaves and pink to purple blooms. Outdoor cats and dogs can be exposed to oleander poisoning if they decide to take a quick bite of the bright bloom or clippings. Signs of toxicity include heart arrhythmias, lethargy, hypothermia, vomiting, diarrhea, and even sudden death

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe is a popular plant to keep at home as a remedy for minor cuts and burns. Just snip off a portion of the plant and rub it on your skin… if you’re a human! Aloe plants are toxic to cats and dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, seizures, and change in urine color.

5. Baby’s Breath

A popular tiny white flower often used in floral arrangements, baby’s breath is bite-sized for your curious kitten. Baby’s breath’s toxic principle causes vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly dehydration in cats and dogs.

6. Diffenbachia
Diffenbachia is a popular houseplant. It is easy to care for and grows tall, slender with sometimes striped leaves. It also contains a very irritating substances called calcium oxalate. Cats and small children often like to nibble on the leaves, causing numbness of the mouth and ulcerations if a large quantity is eaten. Other signs include excessive salivation, pawing at the mouth, difficulty swallowing, anorexia, and vomiting.

7. Mistletoe

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without hanging mistletoe. Even if it hangs high in your home, leaves can fall to the floor where dogs and cats can take a nibble. Kissing under the mistletoe may make your heart race, but it can cause just the opposite when eaten by your pets. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, low heart rate, erratic behavior, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and difficulty breathing.

8. Cyclamen

These hardy potted plants are a common gift and are easy to care for. Their bright blooms, leaves, and especially the roots are toxic to dogs and cats. After ingestion, intense vomiting and diarrhea occur and some deaths have been reported.

"Curiosity killed the cat” and this is what can happen when cats are around the wrong plants. Taking a nibble here and there is not only annoying, but can also be deadly for them. So do your pets a favor by doing a quick inventory of plants in your house and garden - it could save their life! If you want to learn more about cat care and other animals consider taking our Animal Care course.