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Can Cats Eat Peace Lilies? Are They Poisonous to Cats?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

peace lily

The peace lily, also called the mauna loa plant, is a common indoor houseplant that only requires moderate sunlight to grow properly. If you’re a pet owner with a peace lily in your home, you may have wondered, can cats eat peace lilies? No, cats should not eat peace lilies. Although they’re not as deadly as plants in the Hemerocallis or Lilium genus, peace lilies can cause excessive drooling, vomiting, a burning sensation in the lips, mouth, and tongue, and problems swallowing. When cats consume the plant, the symptoms range from mild to moderate but are rarely fatal.

Peace lilies are in the Araceae family, but they’re not considered true lilies. Stargazer lilies, Asiatic lilies, fire lilies, and Japanese show lilies are true lilies that are incredibly toxic and potentially fatal to cats. Peace lilies are less harmful than true lilies, but they contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause painful reactions if chewed or swallowed by cats. Oxalate crystals are absorbed into the cat’s tissues when a stem or leaf is chewed, and they’re the same substance responsible for kidney stones in humans.

What You Can Do If Your Pet Eats a Peace Lily

Before symptoms such as drooling or vomiting occur, cats can start rubbing their mouths or tongues and crying out in pain. Try to stay calm while you hold your cat and remove any residual pieces of the plant from their mouth. Wipe the animal’s mouth with a clean wet rag, carefully rinse its mouth and tongue, and contact your veterinarian. Most reactions will subside after a few hours, but it’s best to see your vet as soon as possible to ensure your cat is safe. Symptoms will not be as severe if your cat only chews a small piece, but you should collect a sample of your plant to confirm its identity when you see your cat’s doctor. You can reduce the oxalate crystal’s reaction by giving your pet lactose-free milk or yogurt. However, this is only a temporary solution that should be followed by a visit to the doctor.

cat and vet
Image Credit: Stock-Asso, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Your Cat from Eating Peace Lilies

If you research how to keep your cat from eating peace lilies, you’ll find several suggestions that mention adding citrus peels, coffee grounds, or hot pepper spice to the plant’s soil. These homemade deterrents may keep your cat away, but they’re not 100% effective. Most houseplant varieties will stay intact if cared for correctly, but they can still drop flower petals and leaves on the floor. Unlike other plants with different toxicity levels in the stems, flowers, and leaves, the entire peace lily has oxalate crystals, and any section can harm your pet.

Removing the plant from your home is the only way to protect your feline from an adverse reaction. Peace lilies have a light floral aroma that’s attractive to cats. Since felines are excellent climbers and leapers, you’re unlikely to protect your pet by placing the plant in an elevated location. However, if you cannot bring yourself to part with a peace lily, you can keep the plant outdoors in a shaded area. Peace lilies will thrive in warm or cool conditions, but they’ll die if the temperature drops below freezing. Rather than risking your pet’s health with a peace lily, you can select houseplants from the ASPCA’s non-toxic list for safer alternatives.

Here is a small sample of the safe plants for your kitty.

  • Boston fern
  • Areca palm
  • Red prayer plant
  • Bird’s nest fern
  • Elegant orchid
  • Money tree
  • Parlor palm
  • Bromeliad
  • Friendship plant
  • Venus fly trap
  • Kimberly queen fern
  • African violet
  • Cat grass

Although all the plants on the ASPCA’s non-toxic are considered safe for cats, your pet can experience discomfort if it ingests too much of any plant. House cats have particular diets, and their systems are not efficient enough to process large quantities of plant material. Catnip is famous for its ability to energize your kitty, and it’s safe for cats to smell and eat. However, cats that eat too much catnip may experience diarrhea or vomiting.

American curl cat lying
Image Credit: Scink, Shutterstock

Poisonous Plants to Avoid Keeping In Your Home

For a complete list of toxic plants, you can view the ASPCA toxic plant list. If you scroll down the list, you’ll probably be surprised how many indoor and outdoor plants are hazardous for your cat. Some of the flora species are less toxic to your cat than others, but we’ve compiled a list of the most dangerous plants to keep out of your house.

True Lilies

Plants in the Lilium family are some of the most dangerous substances for your cat. Lilies are often grown outdoors, but many homeowners clip the flowers for indoor presentations. Even a tiny piece of a lily can lead to kidney damage.

Tulips

The bulbs of tulips and narcissus plants can cause drooling, loss of appetite, central nervous system depression, gastrointestinal stress, convulsions, and cardiac issues.

tulips
Image Credit Couleur, Pixabay

Sago Palm

The seeds of the sago palm contain the highest concentration of toxin, but any part of the plant can make your cat sick. Eating a sago can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, depression, and kidney failure.

Azalea/Rhododendron

Azaleas and rhododendron are common outdoor plants often displayed indoors. The plants contain grayanotoxins that can cause drooling, vomiting, weakness, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, coma, and death.

Oleander

Each section of the oleander plant contains cardiac glycosides that can lead to abnormal heart function, gastrointestinal stress, hypothermia, and death.

Cyclamen

The substance cyclamine that’s present in cyclamen plants is most concentrated in the plant’s roots. It can cause vomiting, gastrointestinal irritation, and death.

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe plants can cause gastrointestinal stress and disrupt the cat’s cardiac rhythm and heart rate.

Yew

Taxine compounds in yew plants can result in coordination problems, breathing difficulty, trembling, gastrointestinal irritation, cardiac failure, and death.

Amaryllis

This popular Easter decoration can cause depression, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, anorexia, hypersalivation, and tremors.

Autumn Crocus

The autumn crocus is not a true crocus, but it’s toxic to cats and humans. Some people have been hospitalized after mistaking the plant for garlic or wild leeks. If ingested by a feline, it can cause bloody vomiting, oral irritation, diarrhea, bone marrow suppression, shock, and organ damage.

cat staying away from plant because of scratch mat

Chrysanthemum

Every section of chrysanthemum plants is toxic to cats. The plant’s pyrethrins toxin can cause drooling, vomiting, gastrointestinal stress, diarrhea, and loss of coordination.

Final Thoughts

Decorating your home with houseplants adds color to your interior design and purifies the air, but some of the most attractive species are hazardous to your feline. With so many plants on the toxic list, it seems challenging to keep your pet safe. However, many beautiful plants are safe for your pet, and you can protect your furball from danger by keeping the deadly species out of your house. If you have poisonous species in your garden or landscaped areas, be sure to keep fallen leaves, flowers, or stems from being accidentally dragged into the interior.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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