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Plants that are poisonous to cats

Updated on July 19, 2012

If you're considering getting a kitten or cat, it is important to cat proof your home. In general, people tend to set up a litter box, a quiet eating spot, a good scratching post and a comfy bed for their kittens and cats, but they forget, or just don't know about the various plants that are toxic to cats. Even though cats are very good at only eating what is good for them it's still important to look through your house and garden (if you are keeping an outdoor cat) and as much as possible, try to minimise the number of plants that are poisonous to cats. Many people never give a second thought to the fact that some very common household plants are very dangerous for their moggy.



The Lily is a cat killer par excellence. It is beautiful, but deadly and can cause acute renal failure even if only a small amount is ingested. Lilies are in fact classified as leafy stemmed herbs and grow from bulbs. Lilies have large flowers and there are about 110 species of them. The lily often has a very rich scent and they do make lovely flowers for an indoor display, however, any cat owner would do well to keep them well away from home and garden because of their extreme toxicity. Even just getting some of the pollen on their fur and subsequently licking it off when grooming can cause cats to have an adverse reaction!


Tulip bulbs can cause anything from convulsions to gastrointestinal irritation and loss of appetite if a cat eats them. Tulips are often used in displays indoors, especially during the spring.


Sago Palm

The nuts or seeds of the sago palm are the most poisonous part of the plant for cats, although the rest of the plant isn't much better. Again the effects to cats who eat the sago palm include liver failure, vomiting and diarrhoea. The sago palm is also called cycas revoluta and it is in fact not a palm at all, though of course that's of little consolation if your cat has eaten one.


Well, you probably shouldn't be growing this one anyway. Cannabis can make your cat vomit and drool as well as induce diahrroea and even increase the heart rate and send some cats into a coma.


This is a small tree or shrub with very dark green leaves for the most part. A few leaves are usually flaming red. The plant oddly enough was used by the Aztecs as medication for reducing fever. Even though this plant has a terrible reputation for being toxic to cats and kittens, it usually only results in mild stomach upset.

The poinsettia got its bad reputation from an isolated case where someone got ill from ingesting some of the leaves. It hasn't really been able to recover from this and people with cats tend not to keep poinsettia just in case.

Rhododendron and Azaleas

Rhododendrons and Azaleas are pretty bad for kitty. These plants contain something known as grayanotoxins which can cause everything from drooling and loose stools to coma and heart collapse in cats and kittens. Oddly enough grayanotoxins can sometimes be found in honey as well and can occasionally lead to honey intoxication. Hydrangeas look similar to some rhododendrons, but are in fact a different type of plant.


An evergreen shrub which is toxic in just about every part of it. It is in fact, of the plants that are commonly grown in gardens, one of the most poisonous, so take care! There is no precise region of origin because it is so widely spread these days. Compounds found in the oleander such as oleandrin are cardiac glycosides which can produce both gastrointestinal and cardiac effects. In general, your cat, if it is unlucky enough to eat oleander, can suffer from diarrhea that might be bloody, vomiting, drooling and irregular heart rate which can become so severe that your cat could suffer hypothermia because the extremities suffer from poor circulation. Luckily the number of people who have reported toxic exposure to the oleander are relatively few.


Cyclamen is a perennial which grows from a tuber and has a lovely flower with "upswept petals". Native to Europe and the Med. The most toxic part of the cyclamen is in the tuber and again, gastrointestinal reactions are common in cats.

More and more

These are some of the most common toxic plants for your cat or kitten, but there are quite a few more - the castor bean, kalanchoe, autumn corus, chrsanthemum pathos, schefflera, yew, amaryllis and english ivy, though I wont go in to detail on these just yet.

If you think your cat has eaten any of the plants that are known to be poisenous, it is best to contact your vet immediately - the quicker you can get medical attention for your pet, the better!


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    • DainaK profile image

      DainaK 5 years ago from New York

      Wow...I did not know any of this was poisonous to them! Thanks so much for sharing, I'll have to make sure my cat stays away from our lilies!

    • Pamela-anne profile image

      Pamela-anne 5 years ago from Miller Lake

      Wow I sure learned something with your hub I was shocked to see all these lovely plants that can cause harm to our furry friends our cats! Thanks for sharing take care.