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12 Plants That Are Poisonous or Toxic to Cats (With Pictures)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

giant aloe vera

Cats are curious by nature and love to check out new things. They’re also notorious for getting into things that we don’t want them to touch! We want to keep our cats safe, and that includes not having anything toxic within their reach in the home (or outside of it, if your cat goes outdoors). Plants are fun to decorate the house and liven up a room with, but many can be harmful to cats. Before we decide to bring that beautiful plant home, as pet owners, we have to make sure it’s not toxic to our furry companions. Always check first to see if a plant that you want will hurt your pets in any way. Browse this list of toxic plants to see if any that you’re considering getting — or already own — are named. If you think that your cat has ingested any toxic substance, seek immediate veterinary care or call poison control right away.

Hundreds of plants are toxic to cats. A more comprehensive list is available, but we’ve chosen 12 common house and garden plants that you should avoid bringing into or around your home if you have cats.1 However, no list will be complete, as there are more than 390,000 identified plant species.2 If you suspect that your cat ate a plant that made them ill, consult your vet right away.

The 12 Plants That Are Toxic to Cats

1. Lilies — The Most Dangerous

Image Credit: suju-foto, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Unknown component
Signs of poisoning: Vomiting, drooling, loss of appetite, increased urination, dehydration, no urination at all after 12–24 hours

People favor lilies because of their beauty and strong scent, but they top this list due to their high toxicity to cats. It’s common for bouquets to include lilies. Easter lilies are regular springtime additions to many homes. But if there’s a cat in the house, this is incredibly dangerous. The leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the scent of lilies can make a cat sick. If they don’t go near the flowers, they could still inhale the pollen that sheds from them. They could even become dangerously ill if they drink the water from the vase. All lilies are toxic to cats. The result of lily poisoning in cats is kidney failure. The reason that lilies are so lethal to cats has not yet been pinpointed. All that’s known is that a chemical in the plant destroys the kidneys. Keep lilies out of the house if you have a cat. If you think that your cat has ingested any part of a lily, this is a medical emergency and your cat should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

2. Sago Palm

sago palm
Image Credit: Olena Troshchak, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Cycasin
Signs of poisoning: Vomiting, bloody stool, increased thirst, jaundice, seizures, drooling, lethargy

The Sago Palm is lovely to add to your home and gives a tropical feel to any home. This plant is also used outdoors to liven up patios and backyards. While true palms are non-toxic to cats, the Sago Palm is technically a cycad. They can cause gastrointestinal distress, liver failure, seizures, and even death in cats. The illness could start immediately after the cat eats part of this plant. Even though this is a common plant to use as décor in and around the house, avoid this type if you have a cat.

3. Tulips

Image Credit: Couleur, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Tulipalin A and B
Signs of poisoning: Diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, lethargy, depression, dazed state

A fun springtime flower is the tulip. Available in various colors and petal shapes, they are a bright, cheery way to decorate a room. It can be hard to believe that these beautiful flowers could cause harm to your feline friend. While the tulip bulb is the most toxic part, the entire plant is dangerous for your cat, from the leaves to the flowers. If you have cats, choosing a different springtime flower to decorate your home is the safest thing to do. Tulips are also toxic to dogs and horses.

4. Jade

jade plant
Image Credit: Jan Haerer, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Unknown component
Signs of poisoning: Incoordination, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, lack of energy, excessive sleeping, aggression
Also known as rubber plants, baby Jade, or Chinese Jade, this succulent plant is often used to decorate homes. Bookshelves, mantles, end tables, and nightstands are popular spots for Jade. The leaves of this plant are thick and inviting, making them hard for a curious kitty to resist. If a cat ingests this plant, veterinary treatment is required to flush the toxin from their body as soon as possible. This toxin is not known, but it causes vomiting and neurological issues. It could also prove to be fatal if left untreated.

5. Aloe Vera

aloe vera plant
Image Credit: Suzanne Morris, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Saponins
Signs of poisoning: Diarrhea, lethargy, gastrointestinal noises/obvious pain, loss of appetite, depression
Aloe vera is a common household plant usually kept for its healing properties. It is also a beautiful succulent that can be used as décor. While the gel in the leaves is beneficial to humans, the plant contains compounds called saponins that are dangerous to cats. If your cat ingests part of this plant, the toxins will have to be neutralized in the body as soon as possible. Quick veterinary care is required. The saponins increase the water in your cat’s intestines, causing painful cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. If possible, bring a sample of the plant to the vet with you so they can determine the proper course of treatment.

6. Hydrangea

Hydrangea plant
Image Credit: S. Hermann & F. Richter, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Amygdalin (cyanogenic glycoside)
Signs of poisoning: Disorientation, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, drooling
The blossoms on the Hydrangea plant are favorites because of their coloring and scent. The lush flowers may also be irresistible to your cat. If any part of this plant is ingested, symptoms of illness can start within 30 minutes. Hydrangeas contain amygdalin, which is a cyanogenic glycoside. When this is broken down in the body, it turns into cyanide. While a cat will have to consume a certain amount in order to show signs of illness, it’s best to not have this plant in the house if you have pets. Hydrangea poisoning can also occur in dogs.

7. Wisteria

Wisteria plant
Image Credit: Matthias Böckel, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Lectin, wisterin glycoside
Signs of poisoning: Vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration, confusion, collapse
This beautiful climbing plant with fragrant purple flowers is a lively addition to your landscape, but it can be harmful to your cat. The seed pods are the most poisonous parts of the plant and can even be lethal if consumed. Since they don’t taste bad, your cat may continue to eat them until they’re in danger of being fatally ill. The plant contains lectin, which causes blood clotting that can lead to a stroke. It also contains wisterin glycoside, which causes severe dehydration through vomiting and diarrhea.

8. Dumb Cane

Dumb cane in a pot
Image Credit: Farhad Ibrahimzade, Shutterstock
Reason for toxicity: Calcium oxalate crystals
Signs of poisoning: Oral irritation, difficulty breathing, drooling, pawing at the mouth, vomiting
These houseplants are easy to care for and offer a tropical feel to any home, so it’s no wonder that they’re so popular. They’re used to decorate outdoor areas as well. While this plant is highly toxic to cats, the leaves taste bitter and unpleasant when chewed. Hopefully, this will be enough to keep your curious kitty from eating any more than a taste of it. The sap contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are dangerous to cats and can irritate human skin. Affected cats will show symptoms of discomfort right away. The crystals irritate cats’ mouths and can lead to other illnesses.

9. Snake Plants

Snake Plant
Image Credit: Tanuj Handa, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Saponins
Signs of poisoning: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite, swelling of the tongue and mouth
Snake plants are popular because they improve air quality in the home and thrive in low-light conditions. They are easy to care for and have beautiful long, pointed leaves that immediately liven up a room. While the plants are non-toxic to humans, they contain saponins, like the aloe vera plant. The snake plant can cause illness if eaten by cats.

10. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus plant
Image Credit: pieonane, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Eucalyptol
Signs of poisoning: Drooling, seizures, decreased appetite, diarrhea, vomiting
Eucalyptus plants are popular due to their fragrance, which is said to reduce stress and calm the mind. Whether in fresh or dried form, eucalyptus is dangerous to your cat. Eucalyptus essential oils can also be harmful. The eucalyptol in the plants can cause illness hours after the cat has consumed it, and by then, a great deal of damage could be done. If you think that your cat has eaten part of a eucalyptus plant, take them to the vet even if they aren’t showing symptoms.

11. Poinsettia

Image Credit: Rick Veldman, Pixabay
Reason for toxicity: Irritant sap
Signs of poisoning: Irritation of the mouth, stomach pain, vomiting
It’s the sap of these plants that can cause problems. If ingested by cats, it can irritate the mouth and throat. If it gets on the skin, a rash could develop. While the poisonous nature of this plant tends to be exaggerated, it could still make your cat feel sick and require medical attention. This is especially true for cats that are very young, elderly, or dehydrated.

12. Tomato

tomato plant
Image Credit: Shalev Cohen, Unsplash
Reason for toxicity: Solanine
Signs of poisoning: Drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, confusion, weakness, change in behavior, dilated pupils, slow heart rate
It’s safe to say that cats shouldn’t eat the fruit, leaves, stems, or buds of tomato plants. If you’re growing your tomatoes indoors, make sure your cat can’t get to them. If you grow them outside and have an outdoor kitty, cat-proof your garden or only let your cat outside when you can supervise them. Tomato plants contain solanine, which is toxic to cats. You’ll want to get your cat to the vet right away if you suspect that they’ve eaten any part of a tomato plant. They will be able to start treatment immediately and possibly avoid a more serious illness.

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Watch for These Signs

It’s always important to check to see if the plants in your home can safely be around your cat, but sometimes accidents happen. If you don’t think that the plants in your home are toxic but don’t know for sure, pay attention if your cat starts showing these signs of illness. It could mean that they consumed something poisonous. Check your plants for evidence of chewed leaves, disheveled dirt, or missing stems or flowers. Give the name of the plant to your vet so they can provide proper treatment. Some plants don’t need to be swallowed to be poisonous. They can cause harm to your cat even if they only chewed the leaves.

Here are signs of poisoning to watch out for:
  • Confusion
  • Hiding
  • Difficulty eating/swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Irritated mouth (pawing at the mouth, drooling, swelling)
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness

The Cat Isn’t Showing Symptoms

Cats are skilled at hiding injuries and illnesses. Sometimes we don’t know anything is wrong until the situation has become dire. If you find evidence of a chewed toxic plant and your cat isn’t acting sick, call your vet or poison control to see what your next steps should be.

cat smelling roses
Image By: Kadres, Pixabay

Are Any Plants Safe for Cats?

Many plants are safe for cats! Browse popular safe plants here or check out a longer list.

hepper cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

Plants are ideal for decorating your home and bringing a room together. But while they may look nice, many are dangerous to cats. Researching new plants that capture your interest before you bring them home is the best way to keep your cat safe. Non-toxic plants or no plants at all are better than winding up with a severely ill cat. If you’re concerned about the toxicity of a plant and can’t find the information online, consult your vet. In cases of uncertainty, err on the side of caution, and don’t bring home any plant unless you know for sure that it’s safe for your pets.

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Featured Image Credit: ASSY, Pixabay

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