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Can Cats Eat Pansies? Are They Poisonous to Cats?

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

pansies in pots

The bright and colorful pansy is a beautiful addition to gardens and containers, and they especially thrive in cool and rainy climates. They come in a wide variety of colors and are famous for their “faces,” which look like little men with mustaches. Additionally, they are edible flowers that you can place in a dessert or salad. But are they safe for cats to eat?

Pansies are not toxic to cats, but there’s the possibility of your cat becoming sick if too many pansies are consumed.

We’ll discuss the cat’s diet and have a look at the pansy in more detail so you’ll know what to expect if your cat does munch on one of these flowers.

A Cat’s Diet

The cat’s diet is primarily made up of meat – at least 70%! This makes them obligate carnivores, which means they can’t digest vegetation properly. They are also not physically able to survive on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Cats in the wild will hunt and eat their meals at dusk and dawn. You might have noticed that your cat tends to be pretty active at these times as well.

It’s generally best to stick with high-quality commercially prepared cat food as it balances the right amount of minerals, vitamins, and protein so cats will remain healthy and thrive. Always read the ingredient list on your cat’s food. Some manufacturers use fillers such as animal by-products, wheat, corn, and soy that don’t benefit your cat in any way.

This is just a snippet into a typical cat’s diet, and we’ll have a brief look at the pansy next.

British shorthair cat eating
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

A Little About Pansies

Pansies do best in cool environments with lots of rain or watering. They tend to do most of their growing and surviving in the fall and spring particularly in the Pacific Northwest of North America, which is the perfect climate for them.

They have heart-shaped petals, with four petals on top and one on the bottom, and they come in several colors ranging from pink, purple, white, yellow, blue, orange, and even black. They are easy to grow and can add beautiful splashes of color to your garden or in a pot inside your house.

Pansies are also one of a few edible flowers. Their flavor has been described as “green.” The petals can taste like mild and fresh lettuce, sometimes with a slight perfume flavor. Some pansy species have a hint of a wintergreen taste and occasionally a little sweetness.

They are very safe for us to eat, but we’ll have a closer look at how cats fare when they eat pansies.

Cats and Pansies

The ASPCA does not list the pansy as a toxic plant for cats. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they are entirely safe either.

Some cats might experience stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea, as well as irritation to the gastrointestinal tract. There might also be inflammation and blistering of the skin and in the mouth, particularly if a cat has environmental allergies.

If your cat eats a pansy, keep an eye on it for a while. Chances are they will be just fine, but if you notice any worrisome symptoms, such as breathing difficulties, bring your cat to the vet straight away.

variety of pansies
Image Credit: Jumpstory

What Flowers Are Toxic for Cats?

There’s a fairly long list of plants and flowers that are toxic for cats. We’ll go over the 11 most toxic flowers for cats, but you can visit the Pet Poison Helpline for a more comprehensive list.

  • Autumn Crocus: The spring crocus is also toxic and might cause gastrointestinal upset, but the autumn crocus is very toxic for cats and can lead to respiratory failure as well as liver and kidney damage.
  • Azalea: Ingesting a few leaves can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling. Without veterinary help, the cat could lapse into a coma and possibly die.
  • Cyclamen: The roots of this plant are particularly dangerous and can lead to acute vomiting and possibly death.
  • Kalanchoe: Also known as widow’s-thrill, if enough is eaten, it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and heart arrhythmia.
  • Lilies: Not all lilies are deadly for cats – some might make your cat feel unwell or develop irritation around the mouth. But the seriously dangerous lilies are the tiger, day, Easter, Japanese show, and the Asiatic lilies. Only two or three petals or leaves can cause severe kidney failure and possibly death. Even licking a lily plant or the pollen of it can cause poisoning.
  • Oleander: Both the leaves and the flowers are quite toxic and can cause acute vomiting, slow the heart rate, and lead to possible death.
  • Dieffenbachia: Some of the symptoms a cat might exhibit after ingesting this plant are drooling, acute mouth irritation, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Daffodils: Causes severe vomiting and possibly cardiac arrhythmia, and respiratory depression.
  • Lily of the Valley: The symptoms after eating lily-of-the-valley are like the foxglove. Diarrhea, vomiting, drop a in heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, and possibly seizures.
  • Sago Palm: The leaves and seeds of this palm plant can cause bloody stools, vomiting, damage to the stomach lining, acute liver failure, and possibly death.
  • Tulips: The primary toxic part of tulips is in the bulb. Vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and irritation to the esophagus and mouth can occur.
  • Hyacinths: The same kind of toxicity can be found in Hyacinths like with the Tulip.

If you suspect your cat has come into contact or ingested any of these flowers (including the leaves, stems, and roots), take it immediately to your vet or an emergency clinic and bring the plant with you so they can identify it properly.


While pansies are not poisonous for cats, they still might cause illness or some discomfort for your cat. You’re better off ensuring your cat doesn’t have access not only to your pansies but to any of your plants. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Always talk to your vet about your cat’s health if you’re ever in doubt. And if you want to give your cat a plant as a treat, consider catnip or cat grass, which are very safe and enjoyable for cats to munch. Or roll in.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Kathryn Copeland

Authored by

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bell...Read more

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