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Are Poinsettias Toxic to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Potential Health Risks

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

poinsettia plants in the garden

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are curious creatures that enjoy checking out different plants, trees, and other natural occurrences when spending time outside. Most types of foliage and trees are safe for cats to spend time around and can provide valuable resources like shade and water when necessary. However, some plants can be toxic to cats, especially when a piece of foliage is consumed. So, are poinsettias toxic to cats? Is there a reason to keep your cat away from the poinsettias growing in your yard?

While poinsettias are not considered life-threatening, they are mildly toxic to cats, and eating them can cause some temporary issues for your cat. Keep reading to find out more about this plant and how it affects your pet kitty.

hepper single cat paw divider

Poinsettias Can Make Cats Sick

There is a white milky substance (sap) found inside the poinsettia’s leaves and stems that can make cats sick to their stomachs after being ingested. The good news is that the gastrointestinal irritation that poinsettias cause is temporary and typically does not result in any serious problems that require veterinarian care. If your cat ingests the white substance inside of a poinsettia, they may display signs of an upset belly listed below:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • A loss of appetite

Your cat may also become slightly lethargic as they wait for their digestive problems to pass. Depending on the amount ingested, a cat may display one or all of these signs temporarily. The stomach irritation should not last any longer than a few hours. If it lasts any longer, a trip to the vet is necessary.

Cat not eating food
Image Credit: Elena Kutepova, Shutterstock

What to Do If Your Cat Ingests Poinsettia Leaves

If your cat is showing signs of digestive upset and you suspect that they have been nibbling on a poinsettia plant, you can try to wash their mouth with water. You can also restrict their food for a couple of hours to limit the possibility of vomiting and help keep nausea to a minimum.

After some time passes, you can offer your cat small amounts of food and water to see how they do with it. If your cat consumes the food and water and starts acting like themselves again, you can resume your regular feeding routine. If you feel that your cat is too uncomfortable or is getting worse as time goes on, contact your veterinarian for guidance and advice. They can give you peace of mind and help you determine whether professional care is needed.

Should Poinsettias Be Removed from the Household?

Most cats do not nibble nearly enough of a poinsettia plant to be life-threatening. Many cats will never nibble on a poinsettia at all. Still, we recommend that you do not keep poinsettias at home to limit the possibility of your cat suffering from this type of irritation.

Instead, you can keep pet-friendly plants at home to brighten up the atmosphere.

poinsettia on a vase
Image Credit: Ray_Shrewsberry, Pixabay



Poinsettias can indeed make cats sick, but the plant is not known to cause serious illness or death. Keeping an eye on your cat and ensuring you only grow cat-friendly plants should be all it takes to keep your feline family member safe.

If you are ever in doubt, get a hold of your veterinarian by phone or email for some support and guidance.

Looking for more information on plant toxicity? Check out:

Featured Image Credit: lighthearteddreamer, Pixabay

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Authored by

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens. She is an artist at heart and loves...Read more

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