Our guide to the plants and flowers poisonous to cats
Staggeringly, Brits spend more than £2 billion a year on freshly-cut flowers and indoor plants, with Mother’s Day being one of the busiest of the year for florists. But few people know that many of the most popular varieties of flowers are poisonous to cats.
In this article, our emergency vet lists several flowers poisonous to cats. You should never give any of these as a gift to a cat owner.
If you think your pet may have eaten any of these plants or flowers please contact your vet immediately or, out of hours, find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or 24/7 hospital.
Certain types of lily — those from the Lilium or Hemerocallis species — are very, very dangerous for cats. These include Asiatic, Day, Easter, Japanese Show and Tiger lilies. All of these flowers contain highly toxic substances and eating just two or three leaves, or even drinking water from a vase containing them can be potentially fatal. In fact, cats have even been known to suffer kidney failure after ingesting lily pollen.
If you ever suspect your cat has eaten, or even licked, a lily seek urgent veterinary advice. Treatment is likely to include induced vomiting and intravenous fluid therapy. Your cat may also be given activated charcoal, which is sometimes used as a form of gastrointestinal decontamination for poisoned pets.
If left untreated, however, lily poisoning can cause long-lasting kidney damage and potentially even death. The moral of the story is — while there are some harmless lilies out there — never, ever buy a cat owner lilies unless you know they’re safe. Read Millie’s story to find out more.
Amaryllis aren’t just a popular gift, they’re also a poisonous one. The stalks, flowers and bulbs contain phenanthridine alkaloids which are toxic to cats. The highest proportion is in the bulbs. Eating amaryllis can cause vomiting, changes in blood pressure, tremors and seizures.
Daffodils are synonymous with spring. But the yellow flowers contain a poisonous alkaloid that can trigger vomiting while crystals in the bulbs are severely toxic and can cause serious conditions such as cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression.
Behind the rose, the tulip is the country’s most popular cut flower. But, like daffodils, the bulbs of tulips are toxic to cats. They contain allergenic lactones which, if swallowed, can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and depression.
Although only mildly toxic, chrysanthemums contain pyrethrins, which are used in dog flea and tick medications, and are particularly poisonous to cats. If your cat has eaten chrysanthemums look out for vomiting, diarrhoea and lack of appetite and seek advice from your vet.
Belonging to the liliaceae family, the highest concentration of poison in hyacinths is in the bulbs. Eating a hyacinth bulb can lead to drooling, vomiting, or diarrhoea, depending on the number consumed.
7. Iris and gladioli
‘Are gladioli poisonous to cats?’ is one of the most commonly asked questions on our website. Both of these flowers belong to the Iridaceae family and can cause irritation when eaten. Like many popular spring flowers, the most toxic part is the bulb.
A popular houseplant that’s prevalent in Mediterranean countries, cyclamen contains irritating saponins. Eating the plant can lead to sickness and diarrhoea and potentially even heart failure if ingested in large enough quantities.
9. Widow's thrill
Kalanchoe, or widow’s thrill, is toxic to cats and may cause them to experience vomiting and diarrhoea. The toxins in kalanchoe have also been known to cause abnormal heart rhythms.
Foxglove, while very beautiful with its trumpet-like blossoms, are very poisonous to dogs, cats, and even humans. Foxglove contain naturally-occurring poisons that affect the heart.