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9 Garden Plants to Keep Away From Your Cat

August 3, 2020

Not all things are edible! Here are plants to make sure your cat stays away from indoors and out.

 Our cats seem to love to rub up against houseplants and those that grow in our gardens. They even chew the leaves of many of them. But did you know that some of the plants you may have around the house may be toxic to your cat?

Lilies. Among favorite plants are members of the Lilium and the Hemerocallis families. The primary concern is nephrotoxicity (toxicity in the kidneys). Other lily plants can cause cardiotoxicity (toxicity in the heart) or irritation to the mouth. All parts of the plant are toxic and can cause severe toxicosis and acute kidney injury (AKI). Even just the pollen can cause AKI.

Sago Palm. The ancient sago palm has been around since the dinosaurs and makes a potted plant. But every part of the plant is poisonous. The seeds are the most toxic and eating just one or two seeds can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and liver failure. As beautiful as these plants are, they have no place in a home where a cat lives.

Tulip and Narcissus Bulbs. People love to see tulips pop up in the spring and to send bouquets as gifts. Before you bring one home or plant those bulbs in the fall, consider the problems they can cause if your cat nibbles, especially on the bulbs: intense gastrointestinal irritation, loss of appetite, drooling, central nervous system depression, convulsions, and heart abnormalities.

Azalea/Rhododendron. Substances called grayantoxins in these plants produce vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and depression of the central nervous system. Azalea toxicity can even lead to coma and death.

Oleander. In the Nerium oleander, every part is toxic. Cardiac glycosides cause gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia, or death, in cats and humans alike. Definitely admire the beauty of the oleander from afar and keep it away from your house and garden.

Cyclamen. The beautiful leaves and blooms of the cyclamen make it a favorite houseplant, but Cyclamen species contain cyclamine, which is toxic especially at the root. Intense vomiting is typical of the significant gastrointestinal irritation it causes, and fatalities have been reported.

Amaryllis. Another plant from a bulb is the amaryllis, popular around Easter. One of the two varieties is called belladonna, which should send shivers up your spine as it is toxic even to touch. Keep this one far away from your cat!

Autumn Crocus. This autumn-blooming plant is not a true crocus, but a very popular houseplant that when ingested can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure.  Don’t be fooled because you saw your cat eat the plant and nothing happened. The effects can be delayed and deadly. Best practice? Don’t have one in your house.

Chrysanthemum. This highly popular flowering plant contains pyrethrins. If your cat eats these lovely blooms, gastrointestinal upset, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea may follow. Ingestion of enough of any part of the plant can cause depression and loss of coordination.

If you are in doubt about a plant in your house or garden, do your research. Anytime your cat eats any part of any plant, consider it toxic until you know otherwise. Call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center, to find out if your plant is toxic to your cat.

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