There’s no denying the beauty of freshly-cut tulips or a garden bed of lilies, but flowers like these can make cats sick or even be fatal. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports that both indoor and outdoor plants are among the top 10 toxins pets most frequently ingest.
“We see regular cases of exposure and intoxication with indoor and outdoor cats,” says Dr. Kevin Kelley, an emergency veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Clearwater, Florida.
This doesn’t mean you need to completely give up flowers. Knowing which flowers are poisonous to cats and taking steps to prevent access to them can go a long way to keeping your cat safe.
Flower Toxicity in Cats
Plants produce toxins as a survival mechanism, says Dr. Karyn Bischoff, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center in Ithaca, New York. “Plants can’t run away, so they have to come up with other ways to prevent getting eaten by insects and animals.”
Because cats don’t have hands that can manipulate objects like we do, “they default to using their mouths, which gives some toxins immediate access to their body,” adds Kelley.
Why Do Cats Like Flowers So Much?
If you live with cats, you know how curious they can be, especially when they’re younger. Some cats are attracted to flowers for their taste or texture. “Cats might go for certain plants because they enjoy the mouth feel,” says Dr. Cathy Lund, a veterinarian with City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats in Providence, Rhode Island.
Cats also have an excellent sense of smell, with about 14 to 20 times the smell receptors that people do, says Kelley. “They are likely to know about a change in their environment and often investigate it, which is when they are exposed,” he says. “Each [cat] is different and some aggressively seek out certain smells when available, while others seem not to care or respond.”
Symptoms of Flower Poisoning in Cats
Depending on the type of flower and amount ingested, symptoms can vary from mild to fatal, says Kelley.
Some of these symptoms include:
- Mouth irritation
- Excessive salivation
“Other plants can damage the liver or kidneys, sometimes irreversibly, or cause cardiac arrhythmias or neurologic side effects, including seizures and even death,” adds Kelley.
Signs of flower poisoning in cats are not always immediately obvious, either. “Their effects are seen with organ damage, manifesting days later, when treatment can be far less effective and damage is permanent.”
A List of Flowers Poisonous to Cats
Veterinarians recommend preventing cats’ access to the following flowers. Keep in mind that any contact with these and other toxic flowers for cats can be dangerous.
“Chewing on some plants is enough to cause toxicity, and ingestion is not always necessary to become poisoned,” says Kelley.
Flowers that are toxic to cats include:
- True lilies and daylilies
- Lily of the valley
Flowers That Are Safe For Cats
Keep in mind that even non-poisonous flowers for cats can cause some gastric upset. And some can present other challenges, like a rose with its prickly stem.
But, generally, the following flowers are considered safe for cats:
*These lists are not all-inclusive, so if you’re unsure about any plant, it’s safest to check with a professional.
Flowers and Cats: A Closer Look at Common Varieties
When reviewing any list of non-poisonous or poisonous plants for cats, keep in mind that some names can be misleading.
For example, while the common lilac plant (Syringa vulgaris) is not considered poisonous to cats, the Persian lilac of the Melia genus is. “This plant is very toxic. It can cause more severe gastrointestinal distress, and also muscle weakness, tremors, and seizures if ingested,” says Bischoff.
If in doubt about any plant, it pays to run it past your veterinarian, a garden expert, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).
Are Lilacs Poisonous to Cats?
One of spring’s most aromatic flowers, the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is a violet-colored shrub that can also come in shades of lavender, burgundy, white, yellow, and blue.
Lilacs have a slightly bitter taste, which may deter cats from eating them. Even if cats do make contact with lilacs, they shouldn’t become seriously ill, says Bischoff, who frequently cuts lilacs in the spring and places them around her own home.
“I think in a worst-case scenario, a cat might get an upset stomach and maybe vomit or have some diarrhea,” she says.
As mentioned above, while the common lilac is not poisonous, the Persian lilac is, so pet owners should know the difference between the two varieties before planting or plucking.
Are Orchids Poisonous to Cats?
Orchids are part of the highly-diverse Orchidaceae family, a group of fragrant, flowering plants that most often present in various shades of pink. But they also come in other colors, including yellow, red, and green. Most orchids are considered safe for cats.
In a worst-case scenario, a cat who ingests orchids might experience mild vomiting and diarrhea, says Bischoff. With more than 25,000 species of orchids however, it’s best to check with a professional.
Are Roses Poisonous to Cats?
The common prickly-stemmed rose (of the Rosa genus) is a perennial shrub that typically yields flowers in red, pink, and yellow.
Experts say roses have not been associated with poisoning in cats. “The worst I would expect would be some mild vomiting and diarrhea,” says Bischoff.
One caveat, however, is the thorny stem of roses, which can cause pain or discomfort to an unsuspecting cat.
Are Tulips Poisonous to Cats?
One of early spring’s typical flowers, tulips actually belong to the lily family (Liliaceae). They contain Tulipalin A and B, chemical compounds that Kelley says are poisonous to cats.
“They are in highest concentration in the bulbs, but the plant if ingested, can cause vomiting, hyper-salivation, diarrhea, and depression,” he adds.
Are Lilies Poisonous to Cats?
According to Pet Poison Helpline, lilies (of the Lilium genus) are one of the top ten cat poisons.
“True lilies (Lilium) and daylilies (Hemerocalis) are so incredibly toxic to cats that they aren’t ever allowed in my house,” says Bischoff. “The prognosis for a cat with lily poisoning is poor to grave.”
All parts of the plant, including the pollen, should be avoided as they can cause kidney failure in cats.
Early symptoms of lily poisoning include excessive salivation or drooling, vomiting, and lethargy, which can range from mild to noticeable, says Kelley.
“Any exposure is considered a severe emergency, and decontamination and detoxification with supportive care is key to long term survival and minimizing damage,” he says.
Are Mums Poisonous to Cats?
Mums are some of autumn’s most widely-grown flowers, presenting in deep orange, burgundy, purple, and yellow. “They contain multiple toxic compounds that can cause vomiting, hyper-salivation, diarrhea, incoordination, and even skin inflammation from contact with some varieties,” explains Kelley.
Ironically, pyrethrin flea sprays were once made from chrysanthemum flowers, says Bischoff. “Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide that can cause some skin irritation, increased salivation, nausea, and vomiting in cats, both because of the effects on nerves and because they have a very bitter flavor.”
Are Sunflowers Poisonous to Cats?
These yellow-petaled flowers with a brown interior disc are cheerful and yield edible seeds.
Sunflowers are also generally considered non-toxic for cats, but veterinarians say they may cause minor stomach upset or vomiting if ingested.
Are Hydrangeas Poisonous to Cats?
Hydrangeas are woody plants that yield rounded clusters of flowers in colors like white, lavender, and blue. Although they look pretty, they can be poisonous to cats.
Some of the compounds in hydrangeas can theoretically break down to cyanide gas in the stomach, “I would definitely advise against letting your cat eat these,” says Bischoff. “I would expect hydrangeas to cause a more severe gastric and intestinal irritation, possibly bloody diarrhea.”
Protecting Cats From Flower Poisoning
Always research the flower you’re planning to purchase, whether it’s an indoor or outdoor plant, recommends Dr. Tina Wismer, senior director at ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center and a board-certified veterinary toxicologist. “It is best to familiarize yourself with the list of toxic plants and keep these types of plants out of your home or garden for the health and safety of your pet.”
If you do keep a toxic plant, keep it out of kitty’s reach. “Typically, this includes making a physical barrier,” adds Wismer. “With some plants, a single exposure could be life threatening.”
Cats love to dig through potting soil, says Lund, so pet parents can take steps to make potted plants and flowers unappealing to cats. “If you have larger houseplants, sometimes putting rocks or other deterrents on top of the soil can limit cat access and prevent your plants from becoming another litter box.”
Even if you’re careful about what you plant outside on your own property, you can’t control what your neighbors grow. If your kitty spends any time outdoors, keep him away from any flowers that are toxic to cats.
If you suspect your cat has been exposed to a toxic plant (or are in doubt), contact your veterinarian, ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435), or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).
What flower is poisonous to cat? ›
Lilies. This beautiful unofficial symbol of Spring is among the most toxic flowers to cats. All varieties - including the Easter, Tiger, Stargazer, Red, Wood, and Day - are unsafe. With some flowers, the petals and the buds are the hazards for cats but, with lilies, it's also the pollen, the leaves, and the stems.What are the plants poisonous to cats? ›
Toxic Plants for Cats.
|Asian Lily*||Day Lily*|
The majority of plants may cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea when ingested by cats but not death. [Editor's note: Of course, it's always a good idea to call your veterinarian if you notice that your cat's ingested anything abnormal.Is Rose toxic to cats? ›
Their sweet scent may attract cats over for a taste. Most often find out quickly that the flower is not that yummy, however, a few end up with a penchant for eating the roses. The good news is that roses by themselves are not toxic to cats, says Dr. Maureen K.Are sunflowers safe for cats? ›
Sunflowers. If you're a cat owner with a passion for sunflowers, you can welcome these plants into your home as they're non-toxic if you cat accidentally manages to ingest them. However, as with the other plants listed, it's best to try to avoid letting your cat eat these plants where possible.Is butterfly flower toxic to cats? ›
Although butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii) are not edible, they are no more toxic than any garden plant. They should be safe to plant where children, dogs, cats, and other animals live.Is lavender poisonous to cats? ›
Lavender is toxic to cats, so they should not consume it in any form, including essential oils or the plant itself. Signs of lavender toxicity in cats include diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness.Is aloe vera poisonous to cats? ›
Aloe vera is a common household plant, not because of its attraction but because of its health benefits. Aloe juice and pulp can be used to treat a variety of conditions in people, but it is highly toxic to cats.What common house plant is poisonous to cats? ›
- Croton (Joseph's Coat)
- Caladium (Elephant Ear)
- Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
- Ficus (rubber plants, weeping and variegated fig plants)
- Monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant)
Recovery from poisoning in cats depends on timing. The sooner your cat has medical attention, the sooner treatment can begin and the less time the poison has to make its way through your cat's system. For many cats, those who receive early treatment will return to their normal selves within a short time.
How long does it take for a cat to show signs of poisoning? ›
Once a cat ingests or comes in contact with a toxin, symptoms may not show up right away. Some toxins may take 3 to 4 days to show any effects. The types of symptoms a cat will exhibit will depend on the toxin she has been exposed to.Are Daisy poisonous to cats? ›
Lauren Cline, DVM, of Queen City Animal Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., says one or two blossoms probably won't be a big deal because daisies aren't as toxic to cats as some other flowers. But "these flowers can still trigger gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting, diarrhea, and hypersalivation," she adds.Are Lily toxic to cats? ›
The entire lily plant is toxic: the stem, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water in a vase. Eating just a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, licking a few pollen grains off its fur while grooming, or drinking the water from the vase can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in less than 3 days.Are tulips poisonous to cats? ›
Tulips are poisonous to cats because they contain alkaloid and glycoside compounds as well as allergenic lactones, which are harmful if ingested. Tulips are part of the Lily family and Lilies are also poisonous to cats. The whole of the tulip plant is poisonous to cats, from the petals to the stem and leaves.Is peace lily toxic to cats? ›
17 Nov Peace Lilies And Your Cat
Indeed, Liles in the Lilium and Hemerocallis genus are extremely toxic to cats. There have been case reports of cats grooming their coat after simply brushing past Lilium or Hemerocallis flowers and subsequently developing life-threatening poisoning with kidney failure.
If your cat eats marigold leaves or stems, it may suffer from mild mouth irritation, possible drooling, tummy pain, and diarrhea. Contact from the plant's sap may also cause skin irritation.Is Lemon safe for cats? ›
The answer is a firm no. Lemons and other citrus fruits can harm your feline friend because they contain toxic compounds that are poisonous to most domestic pets.Is Basil toxic to cats? ›
Basil is one of the most widely grown herbs safe for cats. As any cat owner knows, they love to chew on whatever they can get their teeth on, and basil is a chewy leaf that is good for them.Will cats eat poisonous plants? ›
Toxic Parts of Plants
Pollen, needles, seeds, flowers and leaves can all be potentially toxic for cats. Often cats ingest toxic plant substances while grooming themselves due to pollen or seeds being trapped in their fur or on their paws.
Most mint plants contain essential oils which can cause negative responses if consumed in high quantities. Both catnip and catmint are types of mint that are safe to cats. Garden mint may cause gastrointestinal upset if too much is eaten.
Are spider plants poisonous to cats? ›
Unlike peace lilies and pothos, Chlorophytum comosum is one houseplant that can be safely nibbled by your kitties without requiring a trip to the emergency animal hospital. According to both the ASPCA and the National Capital Poison Center, aka Poison Control, spider plants are non-toxic to both cats and dogs.Is snake plant poisonous to cats? ›
The plant: Snake plant
However, it's toxic to cats, warns the ASCPA. Snake plants contain chemical compounds called saponins, which result in feline nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if consumed or chewed on.
Cats have a strong distaste for anything citrus. Using either juice of a lemon, lime, or orange diluted with some water can be sprayed on the leaves of your plant to ward off any feline invasion. If you don't feel like creating your own mixture, Bodhi Dog makes a Bitter Lemon Spray.What plants can I have around my cats? ›
- Rattlesnake Plant. ...
- Spider Plant. ...
- Parlor Palm. ...
- Calathea Orbifolia. ...
- Ponytail Palm. ...
- (Certain) Succulents. ...
- African Violet. ...
- Bird's Nest Fern.
Only plants belonging to the genera Hemerocallis and Lilium have been shown to cause kidney failure in cats.How does a cat act if its poisoned? ›
Signs & Symptoms of Cat Poisoning
Coughing. Diarrhea and Vomiting. Twitching or seizure. Breathing difficulties (rapid or labored)
No. Milk is unlikely to be helpful in the vast majority of poisoning situations and can sometimes make things worse. Most pets are lactose intolerant and giving milk can cause or worsen stomach upset symptoms.What can accidentally poison a cat? ›
- Lilies (Lilium species such as Easter lilies, tiger lilies and Stargazer lilies as well as Hemerocallis species such as daylilies)
- Vitamin D3 overdose.
- Human foods in the Allium species (e.g., onions, garlic, chives, leeks)
Uncharacteristic sluggishness, unsteady gait, drooling, heavy breathing, diarrhea, seizures, and sudden bouts of vomiting are among the common clinical signs of feline poisoning (toxicosis). A cat owner who observes any of these signs will do an animal a huge favor by seeking emergency veterinary care.Do cats know if something is poisonous? ›
Dogs and cats instinctively know not to eat certain things that can make them sick or kill them. Many animals, especially those in the wild, do have a combination of instinct, experience and training that keeps them from consuming things that are harmful to them.
How can you tell if your pet was poisoned? ›
- Nausea and/or vomiting.
- Heart problems.
- Kidney failure.
- An administration of ethanol (in cases of antifreeze poisoning)
- Fluid therapy (to help to flush the toxin from the body)
- Muscle relaxants (for tremors)
- Anti-seizure medication.
- Induce vomiting.
In less severe cases of poisoning, give the cat milk, egg whites or vegetable oil. If you use oil, administer approximately two teaspoons for an average-sized cat. The best way to feed the cat with oil is to add it to food, if the cat is still capable of eating anything.What yellow flowers are poisonous to cats? ›
Ranunculus. Also known as buttercup, ranunculus has yellow five-petaled flowers that are usually yellow but may also be pink, white, red, or orange. It is poisonous for dogs, cats, and horses and can lead to oral ulcers, excessive drooling, wobbly gait, anorexia, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.Is Baby's Breath poisonous to cats? ›
Only mildly toxic, ingestion can still lead to vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and lethargy in your cat.
Mums are toxic to dogs and cats if ingested in high enough amounts. Cats tend to be more sensitive to the toxic effects than dogs. General signs of toxic exposure include: vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, lack of coordination, and inappetance. In cats, symptoms can be seen within a couple hours.What happens if a cat licks a lily? ›
Most cases of untreated lily intoxication cause acute renal failure within 12-36 hours, with death occurring 3-5 days after exposure. Cats exposed to the toxic plants will display vomiting, lethargy, and anorexia within two hours of exposure.What if my cat smelled a lily? ›
My cat may have been exposed to a toxic lily. What should I do? Cats who have been seen near lilies, as well as those who have definitely ingested any part of a lily, should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. Cats who are treated within 18 hours of exposure to a toxic lily generally recover.Are peonies poisonous to cats? ›
Peonies. These popular springtime flowers contain paeonol, a toxin known to be harmful to cats and dogs. If ingested, peonies can cause mild to moderate poisoning. Some common signs to watch for would be gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhoea.Are daffodils poisonous to cats? ›
Daffodils are members of the Amaryllidaceae family. Other common names for the daffodil are "paper white" and "jonquil." Daffodils are definitely poisonous to cats, however, the plants are toxic to not only felines but also other animals including horses and dogs. The whole plant is toxic, especially the bulb.
Are cats attracted to lilies? ›
Cats seem to be especially attracted to Lilies as well and will often seek them out to chew on. Brushing by a flower and having pollen cling to the fur can cause a secondary toxicity when they groom themselves later, thereby ingesting the pollen and the toxin along with it.Are daffodils poisonous? ›
All parts of the daffodil contain a toxic chemical, lycorine. The part of the plant that contains the highest concentration of lycorine is the bulb. However, eating any part of the plant can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually last about 3 hours.Can I have flowers if I have a cat? ›
Flowers That Are Safe for Cats
Asters. Freesia. Gerber Daisies. Liatris.
The ingestion of just one or two leaves or petals can cause sudden kidney failure. Even ingesting small amounts of pollen from a cat's fur is considered poisonous.What happens if my cat eats roses? ›
No, roses themselves are not poisonous to cats. Cats may experience a little diarrhea or upset stomach if they eat too much, but the petals and stems of thornless roses are safe for your kitty.What flower attracts cats? ›
Felines enjoy attractive edible flowers such as zinnias, marigolds and Johnny-jump-ups, as well as catnip, cat thyme, oat grass, rosemary and bean sprouts. Although catnip has a reputation as a cat favorite, you might want to try some on your cat before you plant it, because not all cats like it.What plants should cats stay away from? ›
- Aloe vera.
- Castor bean.
- English ivy.
Lavender, geranium, and eucalyptus
Some gardeners use lavender plants to deter deer, but you can also try this as a deterrent for felines. Likewise, geranium and eucalyptus plants give off an odor that cats dislike.
Lauren Cline, DVM, of Queen City Animal Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., says one or two blossoms probably won't be a big deal because daisies aren't as toxic to cats as some other flowers. But "these flowers can still trigger gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting, diarrhea, and hypersalivation," she adds.Is Lavender safe for cats? ›
Lavender is toxic to cats, so they should not consume it in any form, including essential oils or the plant itself. Signs of lavender toxicity in cats include diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness.
Are tulips safe for cats? ›
Tulips are poisonous to cats because they contain alkaloid and glycoside compounds as well as allergenic lactones, which are harmful if ingested. Tulips are part of the Lily family and Lilies are also poisonous to cats. The whole of the tulip plant is poisonous to cats, from the petals to the stem and leaves.Can cats eat a rose petal? ›
Roses aren't toxic to cats, and this includes rose petals, stems and leaves. But they still don't make a good snack for your cat. “Roses by themselves are not thought to be toxic or dangerous for cats,” Dr.How long does plant poisoning last in cats? ›
Hello the side effects can last 24 to 48 hours. If your cat is not eating it would be best for your vet to see your cat. Was this experience helpful?Are rose petals poisonous? ›
A true rose (Rosa ssp.) is a safe flower to have around your small children. In fact, the petals of all varieties of the rose plant can be eaten and are often used in food recipes.Can cats eat baby breath? ›
It is moderately toxic to cats and can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. If your cat consumes any part of the baby's breath plant, you might also notice lethargy or a lack of energy and your cat might even stop eating.Is Eucalyptus safe for cats? ›
Dried or fresh, eucalyptus is dangerous for your cat. Your cat can experience salivation, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion and other concerning symptoms after consuming this potent houseplant. To keep your cats safe, use eucalyptus essential oil in a sealed container instead of fresh or dried plants.How do I keep my cat from eating my flowers? ›
Make The Plants Unappealing
Because cats don't like the taste or smell of citrus, mix together water with lemon, lime or orange juice, and then spritz this on your plants. Often, the smell of the citrus is enough to keep your cat away. If she does nibble, one taste of citrus should prevent further plant snacking.