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Toxic Plants And Your Cat’s Health

Toxic Plants and Your Cat’s Health

What to Watch for This Spring

As the days grow warmer and longer, many of us will be spending time kneeling over flowerbeds and tending gardens. Those of us who share our homes with pets, however, should be cautious before bringing any of those plants and flowers inside. 

Many plants are harmful to both cats and dogs. While dog moms and dads may be used to shooing their furry friends away from prized bushes and perennials, it‘s a different story altogether for cat lovers. Because cats are so clever and capable, guardians tend to be less watchful of them, and so it’s easier, though not advisable, for cat owners to overlook the danger that ingestion of these plants presents to their feline companions. 

Before bringing a beautiful flower arrangement indoors and into the reach of your feline housemates, it’s important to recognize which blooms could be toxic. Let’s take a look at the plants that are best kept outdoors and away from the paws (and mouths) of curious kitties.

Lilies

Perhaps the most widely recognized toxic flower to felines, lilies present a serious threat if ingested. The leaves, flowers, and even pollen from daylilies, tiger lilies, Easter, Asiatic, and Japanese lilies can cause kidney damage and even death. Even if your pet only drinks from the water a lily is resting in, you should seek veterinary care. 

If you suspect that your cat has ingested any of these lily types, contact your veterinarian. And an additional word of caution: Placing these flowers in a hard-to-reach spot does not prevent leaves from falling as the plants die, and ultimately, serving as poisonous chew toys for your cat. 

Daffodils

When we think spring, we think daffodils. But these sweet yellow flowers can present a true problem for cats if eaten. Symptoms of daffodil toxicity range from mild vomiting and gastrointestinal upset to much more serious conditions such as respiratory difficulties and heart arrhythmias.

Azaleas

Though traditionally thought to cause only mild gastrointestinal upset, the ASPCA Poison Control Center now warns that cases have been reported in which cats eating azaleas have led to depression of the nervous and cardiovascular systems. 

Amaryllis

It’s best to skip this common table-topper if you have feline friends in your home. The chemicals in amaryllis plants – specifically the bulb of the flower – can lead to gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea. In severe cases, some cats have experienced the onset of seizures requiring medical intervention.

Other Plant Toxicities

Several other common garden plants should also stay out of your cat’s reach, though symptoms are commonly milder. These include hyacinths, irises, gladioli, chrysanthemums, hydrangea, marigolds, and tulips. Cat owners and healthcare providers report a loss of appetite, nausea, and other gastrointestinal issues after these flowers were ingested.

Keep these plants outside and your cats indoors to help your pets stay  healthy during the warmer months. For a comprehensive list of plants that are toxic to cats, visit aspca.org. 

If you believe your pet has ingested a poisonous plant or other toxic substance, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435. 

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Lindsay Brockman is a licensed veterinary technician and the director of the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital at the Richmond SPCA. She became a mother this year to a human baby named Edie.

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