Cats and Plants: Get the Facts on Flora and Your Feline

Cats and Plants: Get the Facts on Flora and Your Feline
Cats and Plants: Get the Facts on Flora and Your Feline
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Cats and Plants: Get the Facts on Flora and Your Feline

Plants make a wonderful addition to any décor. Some cats will ignore the greenery, some may dig at the soil a little, but many are curious about the texture and taste of objects that dangle before their eyes. When making a plant selection, consider the safety of your resident feline.

Special Precautions for Gardeners

Many systemic fertilizers — typically slow-release granules that are dug into the ground surrounding the plant — have toxic warnings on the container, but state that once the area has been watered and is dry it is fine for both pets and children to return. While the top layer of dirt once dry may not be harmful to animals, if they dig in that area they may be digging into and potentially consuming toxic or even deadly amounts of fertilizer. Even a small amount can be toxic.

To help prevent this, avoid using systemic fertilizers in conjunction with other plant feeds, such as fish emulsion, fish pellets or kelp, whose smell is attractive to pets. Keep your plants healthy and your pets safe by using natural plant foods like fish emulsion or pellets, bone meal, kelp, and earthworm castings as much as possible.

Plants Safe for Cats
Grey cat sitting by a plant

There are many beautiful plants you can keep inside your home that are not harmful to your cat.

While these plants have been shown to lack any harmful systemic or gastrointestinal effects, even non-toxic plant material is eaten in excess isn’t good for your cat.

This behavior may produce signs similar to those that appear with the ingestion of toxic plants. Vomiting, diarrhea, and depression are common. The difference is that these symptoms are mild and self-limiting (they resolve on their own), and in most cases do not require medical attention. If your cat does ingest an excessive amount of plant material and symptoms do not resolve in a reasonable amount of time, see your veterinarian.

Plants Toxic to Cats

We all want to have our homes, patios, balconies, and yards looking lovely. We can easily do this while carefully avoiding the plants that are potentially harmful to our feline friends.

If you choose to keep potentially poisonous houseplants in your home, please keep them well out of reach of your curious kitty.

And just in case, you should be able to recognize the symptoms of plant poisoning and familiarize yourself with what to do if you notice them in your cat. Remember that in addition to plants, there are many chemicals that should be kept away from your cat too.

Signs of Poisoning from Plant Ingestion

The toxins in poisonous plants have varied effects on individual cats. Some cats may be more sensitive to them and will exhibit more severe symptoms.

These symptoms range from a skin rash or irritation to convulsions, but the most common signs of poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea.

The following charts give you an idea of the types of symptoms and examples of plants and gardening chemicals with which they are associated.

Common Plants


Plant Examples


Castor bean, Daffodil, Delphinium, Foxglove, Larkspur, Pokeweed, Skunk Cabbage, Wisteria sometimes produce diarrhea, vomiting
Chrysanthemum, Crown of Thorns, Poinsettia produce rash or irritation after skin contact
Caladium, Emerald Duke, Philodendron, Pothos irritating, may cause swelling and pain of lips and tongue
Amaryllis, Bird of Paradise, Creeping Charlie, Crown of Thorns, Mock Orange, Privet, Umbrella Plant, Yews cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, cramps
Almonds, China Berry Tree, Kalanchoe, Water Hemlock cause convulsions
Locoweed, Marijuana, Morning Glory, Nutmeg, Periwinkle, Peyote cause hallucination

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