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You’ve been given a beautiful bunch of flowers or a lovely house plant, and you want it to have pride of place in your living room…but, do you know the possible consequences if your cat decides to take a nibble? There are a number of flowers and plants that can be poisonous to your cat if he ingests them, so it pays to be aware of what those plants are and to remove them from your home.
Poisonous Plants for Cats
There are a wide variety of plants that can prove harmful to your cat, some may only cause a stomach upset and vomiting, but others, like lilies can be fatal (as one of my work colleagues tragically discovered last month after her cat ate the leaves of the flowering lily in her garden). This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the most common plants and flowers that can be poisonous to cats.
- Lilies (note: lily toxicity is one of the most dangerous for cats)
- Tomato plants
- Potato plants
- Aloe vera
For a comprehensive list of poisonous plants for cats and other animals, please refer to the ASPCA’s Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants Database.
Signs Your Cat Has Eaten a Poisonous Plant
There are a number of symptoms that could indicate your cat has eaten a toxic plant – the most common signs of poisoning are vomiting, diarrhoea, fitting, staggering around, lethargy, difficulty breathing or drooling. Even if you don’t know for certain whether or not your cat has eaten something that he shouldn’t, if he shows any of these signs then poisoning is a distinct possibility, and the results can be fatal if left untreated.
What to do if Your Cat Eats a Poisonous Plant
If your cat shows symptoms that could indicate he’s eaten something toxic, or if you know for certain that he has (even if he doesn’t appear to be having an adverse reaction), you need to phone your vet immediately. With the ingestion of any poisonous substances including plants, it’s essential to get your cat reviewed and treated as quickly as possible. Make sure you tell your vet exactly what plant you suspect has caused the problem, as this will allow your vet to prepare the most appropriate antidote if your cat requires it. If you know what your cat has eaten but aren’t sure what the plant is called, take a sample of the plant with you to the vet for identification as this will help determine treatment.
If you do have plants in your home or garden that can be poisonous to cats, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your cat will go near them; let alone eat them. However, I always prefer to err on the side of caution, so if you have plants in your garden that are known to be toxic to cats, and especially if you have lilies; then I recommend removing them. The same care should be taken with house plants and cut flowers – don’t leave them unattended with your cat in the room, just in case he decides they look good enough to eat.
Image: Susan Murtaugh via Flickr