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Are Pussy Willows Toxic To Cats? Keeping Your Cat Safe!

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By Misty Layne

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Dr. Tabitha Henson (Vet)

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Cats are obligate carnivores, so you wouldn’t imagine they’d willingly eat a lot of green things. But, cats are also inquisitive animals who want to learn more about their surroundings – sometimes by eating what’s around them. So, if you have cats and plants in the same house, you’re probably aware that they should be kept apart as some plants are quite toxic for our feline friends.

If you have a cat who spends time outdoors, you’ll need to be even more careful to keep an eye on them and what they’re nibbling on. There are several common plants around our homes that could be bad for kitty. If you have pussy willows inside or near your home, you’re probably curious about whether these plants are toxic to cats.

The short answer is no, pussy willow is not toxic if only a tiny amount is ingested, but it can be if your cat has eaten a lot.

Pussy Willows & Cats

white himalayan persian cat laying on chair hepper

When it comes to the pussy willow, they’re listed as a plant that is not toxic to cats. And, in minimal amounts, this is true (although your cat may still suffer some gastrointestinal issues as it would for any new thing it eats). It’s when large amounts of pussy willow are consumed that you might need to worry.

Why is that? Because pussy willows contain salicin, which turns into salicylic acid when metabolized. Cats’ systems are particularly sensitive to salicylates (which is why it’s not recommended to give aspirin to your pet). Too much, and it could poison your cat leading to ulceration, vomiting, stomach pain, and more.

That said, your cat can ingest some salicylates, just not a lot. In fact, white willow bark (which is in the same family as the pussy willow and also contains salicin) is a supplement sometimes used to alleviate inflammation and pain related to arthritis in cats. Although, studies of the effectiveness in cats is limited.

In the case of the pussy willow, it’s all about balance (and chances are your cat wouldn’t eat a ton of pussy willow anyway, but better safe than sorry).

How To Keep Your Cat Safe

Cat with cactus plant behind it
Image Credit: freestocks-photos, Pixabay

There are several ways you can keep your cat safe when they’re around plants that could be dangerous to them, like the pussy willow.

  • Never leave your cat unattended around plants that could be dangerous or of which you’re unsure.
  • If you see your cat eyeing up a plant or nibbling on one, distract them or move them away from the area or move the plant out of reach.
  • If you have a pussy willow in your home, keep it far out of reach of cats.
  • If it can’t be far out of reach, make it unappealing to your cat by spraying lemon water on the plant.
  • Consider not having pussy willow in your home or yard at all.

Final Thoughts

Just a bite or two of pussy willow should be okay for your cat. When a lot is consumed is when things can start to go downhill. This is because pussy willow contains salicin, and cats are very sensitive to salicylates. However, a bit of salicin is fine as you’ll find it in other things that are sometimes used to treat cats. Balance is needed when it comes to this compound.

You can also take steps to keep your cat safe by keeping an eye on them around pussy willows, keeping them away from the plant, or just not having the plant around your home or yard.

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Featured Image Credit: kdoetsch, Pixabay

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Misty Layne lives out in the woods in small-town Alabama with her two Siamese—Serafina and Jasper. She also has an array of stray cats, raccoons, and possums who like to call her front porch home. When she’s not writing about animals, you’ll find her writing poetry, stories, and film reviews (the animals are, by far, her favorite writing topic, though!). In her free time, Misty enjoys chilling with her cats, playing...Read more

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