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Are Lilacs Poisonous to Cats? Keeping Your Cats Safe

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

purple and white lilac

Lilacs are a lovely spring flower that many can recognize instantly. Lilac has a soft, supple smell that is light and airy. It isn’t uncommon to see this flower on a walk and be so taken with the smell that you cut off a few stems for a lovely natural air freshener.

While we admirers enjoy a few lilac cuts on the kitchen table, are they safe for our feline friends? If you’re a lover of this lavender-colored flower and a proud pet parent, you’ll be happy to know almost all lilacs are dog and cat-safe. However, one type of lilac contains a sinister ingredient—beware!

Almost All Lilacs Are Non-Toxic to Cats

Lilacs are as pleasant as they smell—no hidden agendas here. They are perfectly safe to have in a yard with pets. Since they are so hardy, your pets will likely not damage the plants either. Unless, of course, you have a Persian lilac.

pink and white lilac
Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay

Beware of Persian Lilacs

The Persian lilac is in the Melia genus—and a nightmare for pet owners. These lilacs are much shorter than traditional types, maxing out at 8 feet. They are typically dark or pale lavender to white in color.

The Persian lilac can cause:
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Staggering

If you think your cat ate Persian lilac, call US animal poison control at (888) 426-4435.

All About Lilacs

purple lilac flowers
Image Credit: Nowaja, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Syringa
Family: Oleaceae
Native Region: Eastern Europe, Asia
Plant Type: Shrub
Blooming Season: Spring, summer
Height: 12-15 feet
Colors: Purple, blue, pink, white, yellow, red
Light: Full sun, part sun
Blooming: Large blooms
Soil: Neutral to slightly alkaline

Lilac Care

Lilacs are incredibly easy to care for once they take off. In fact, they basically take care of themselves. They are incredibly versatile, withstanding high temperatures and frigid winters. There are about 25 different species of lilacs, touting lovely, clustered blooms that are powerfully fragrant.

Lilacs are shrubs with high survival rates. You can enjoy a lilac in nearly any weather condition, making them a perfect pick for many US yards. The best time to plant a lilac bush is spring or fall.

When the lilac is sprouting and growing, it takes time for the shrub to develop flowering abilities. They don’t need much to take off and usually produce flowers within three to four years.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Lilacs

If your cat eats any part of a regular lilac bush, they will stay perfectly healthy with no side effects. Thankfully, most cats might sniff a lilac plant out of curiosity, but most will not eat it anyway. Luckily, emergency vet visits aren’t necessary for this situation.

This rule applies, of course, only if your lilac bush is not a Persian lilac.

a grey cat sitting on the floor sniffing a bouquet of purple lilacs
Image Credit: Irina Borodovskaya, Shutterstock

Lilac-Scented Products

While lilac plants are incredibly safe for your cat, lilac scents are an entirely different story. Scents, oils, and fragrances are often mixed with tons of other chemicals that can be highly toxic to your cat.

If your cat ate anything lilac scented, you must immediately get them to your vet.

Luckily, it’s unlikely that your cat would drink or eat anything lilac-scented. There is nothing that would attract them naturally to the substance. However, it is possible.

Cats + Lilacs: Final Thoughts

So, now you can feel guilt-free when you bring in a nice cut of lilacs to enjoy. This gorgeous flower is entirely non-toxic to all pets and people. You can have them in your backyard, flower garden, or on your kitchen counters—it doesn’t matter. You can enjoy this lovely spring flower with no consequences.

However, if your cat ate or drank anything lilac-scented, call poison control and your veterinarian right away. Also, if you have a Persian lilac or are unsure what type you have, you might want to get them to your vet to be safe if your cat ingests any.


Featured Image Credit: Didgeman, Pixabay

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