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25 Plants Poisonous to Cats and 25 Safe Plant Suggestions

Tiffany R. Jansen
June 8, 2017

Cats and plants don't always mix. Sometimes the combination can be downright deadly.

You love your cat. You love your plants. That doesn't mean they're going to love each other. Plants poisonous to cats can cause anything from mild irritation to death.

It's not possible to keep tabs on your feline all day long, and even if you could, the odds of getting your cat to stop eating grass are not good. (He's a cat, after all.) "Cats are curious creatures," says Sabrina Hansen, president and co-founder of Aslan's Cats, a New York-based sanctuary for cats with leukemia.

"If you don't want them to do something, it makes them want to do it even more." Your best bet is to cat-proof your house by getting rid of plants poisonous to cats and embracing nontoxic alternatives.

All the following plants can cause vomiting, drooling, throat and mouth irritation, diarrhea, loss of appetite and, sometimes, foaming at the mouth. Other symptoms specific to each plant are listed below.
 

  1. True Lilies (Easter Lily, Asiatic Lily, Glory Lily, Tiger Lily, etc.)
    "If cats eat the petals or leaves, get the pollen on their nose, or even drink the water in the vase, they can get kidney failure and die within about 72 hours," says Dr. Lynn Rolland Hovda, the director of veterinary services at the Pet Poison Helpline.
     
  2. Crocus
    Symptoms: organ damage, respiratory failure, seizures, death.
     
  3. Yew
    Symptoms: difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, seizures, weakness, tremors, coma, death.
     
  4. Lily of the Valley
    Symptoms: cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, death.
     
  5. Oleander
    Symptoms: tremors, seizures, abnormal heart rate, abnormal heart rhythm, weakness, death.
     
  6. Foxglove
    Symptoms: significant drops in heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, dilated pupils, death.
     
  7. Mistletoe
    Symptoms: abdominal pain, seizures, drunk walking, abnormal heart rate, low blood pressure, death.
     
  8. Daffodil*
    Symptoms: bloody diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory depression.
     
  9. Sago Palm
    Symptoms: jaundice, abdominal pain, lethargy.
     
  10. Azalea/Rhododendron
    Symptoms: coma, seizures, blindness.
     
  11. Rhubarb Leaves
    Symptoms: lethargy, tremors, weakness.
     
  12. Narcissus
    *Symptoms: abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory depression.
     
  13. Shamrock
    Symptoms: bloody urine, tremors, weakness.
     
  14. Tulip*
    Symptoms: irritation of the mouth and throat, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing or swallowing.
     
  15. Amaryllis*
    Symptoms: drop in blood pressure, respiratory depression.
     
  16. Calla Lily
    Symptoms: swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth and upper airways.
     
  17. Chinese Evergreen
    Symptoms: difficulty breathing.
     
  18. Dieffenbachia Plant
    Symptoms: swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, and airways.
     
  19. Dracaena
    Symptoms: trouble walking, dilated pupils, weakness.
     
  20. Golden Pothos
    Symptoms: pawing at the mouth and nose area, difficulty breathing or swallowing.
     
  21. Holly
    Symptoms: head shaking, lip smacking.
     
  22. Hyacinth
    *Symptoms: range from irritation of the mouth and throat to increased heart rate and difficulty breathing.
     
  23. Peace Lily
    Symptoms: oral pain, swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue and airways.
     
  24. Philodendron
    Symptoms: oral pain, difficulty breathing or swallowing.
     
  25. Schefflera
    Symptoms: difficulty breathing or swallowing.
     

*The bulbs of these plants are highly toxic.

If you have any of these plants in or outside of your home, you may want to consider getting rid of them. They pose a very real and potentially deadly threat to your cat. Alternatively, you can place these plants in hard-to-reach places -- on top of tall bookcases or high shelves -- or hang them from the ceiling, and remind your pet sitter to do the same. This is not a fail-safe plan, however. "It's better just not to have any of those plants," Hansen advises. "Not worth the risk." Hovda also advises keeping any bouquets you receive out of reach of your cat until you've had a chance to inspect them. 

Consider these 25 safe plant suggestions instead:
 

  1. African Violet
  2. Aluminum Plant
  3. Bamboo
  4. Boston Fern
  5. Calathea
  6. Cast Iron Plant
  7. Christmas Cactus
  8. Donkey's Tail
  9. Golden Butterfly Palm
  10. Grape Ivy
  11. Haworthia
  12. Hens and Chickens
  13. Jacob's Ladder
  14. Jasmine
  15. Marigold
  16. Orchid
  17. Pearl Plant
  18. Peperomia
  19. Petunia
  20. Ponytail Palm
  21. Rose
  22. Spider Plant
  23. Swedish Ivy
  24. Wax Plant
  25. Zinnia
     

Plant-noshing in general is something you want to discourage. Even nontoxic or "safe" plants can give a greenery-chewing kitty a nasty tummy ache. If you suspect your cat has ingested a toxic plant, rush him to the vet. Symptoms can appear in just a matter of hours, and immediate veterinary attention could be the difference between life and death.

Trading in plants known to be toxic for more feline-friendly ones is a huge step towards creating a safe environment for your cat.

And check out these 12 Toxic Plants for Dogs.

Tiffany R. Jansen is a freelance writer who isn't really much of a cat person, but her dog definitely is.

 *This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein

Comments
User
Sept. 27, 2015

Thank you for this article. It is always import to remember this when adding new plants to your home not only during the holidays, but year round.

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