Which common house and garden plants are poisonous for your cat?

Hi everyone,

Today’s guest post comes from Mike James:

Which common house and garden plants are poisonous for your cat?


Cats may have 9 lives but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. When it comes to your home and garden you may well think it’s a perfectly safe environment for Fluffykins to spend time in, but you’d be wrong. Many plants are harmful or poisonous if eaten by your cat.

Obviously, it’s a good idea to be very clued up indeed about the unsafe plants and flowers in and around your home, so you can protect puss from the danger or get rid of them altogether. Toxic plants are not necessarily deadly; many are mere irritants that can cause unwanted and painful inflammation of the skin, stomach or mouth.

There are literally thousands of plants that are harmful to felines – here are a few of the more obvious ones you need to know about, supplied by Mike James who works with Totally Plants

Asparagus Fern – This fern is poisonous to both cats and dogs, the toxic agent in the plant being sapogenin, a steroid found in a number of plants. If Fluffballs ingests the berries of the asparagus fern, vomiting, loose stools and stomach pains will be the result. Skin inflammation is likely with repeated exposure.


Azaleas and Rhododendrons – Azaleas are actually a species of Rhododendron and both these plants contain grayano-toxins which affect the feline cardiac and skeletal muscles. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous and when eaten, drooling, vomiting, abdominal pains, abnormal heart rate, weakness and tremors can result.


Lilies – A cat can die of kidney failure if it ingests any part of a lily! As little as two leaves can make your feline friend very sick indeed, and urgent treatment is needed as soon as possible after the incident. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased urination and dehydration.


Dracaena – A very popular houseplant also known as Corn Plant, it contains saponin which is toxic to both cats and dogs. If ingested, your cat may have dilated pupils, and loss of appetite and vomiting (sometimes with blood) can occur.


Elephant Ear (Colocasia) – Elephant Ears have bold, tropical-looking leaves that contain a chemical that results in irritation of the mouth. Increase saliva production, difficulty in swallowing and vomiting may also occur.


The list goes on and on, comprising numerous well known plants and flowers including Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, Chrysanthemum, Cyclamen, English Ivy, Peace Lily, Sago Palm, Spanish Thyme, Tulip, Narcissus and Yew. For a comprehensive list of hazardous plants for the feline population, please check here.

So, what should you do if you think Fluffy has eaten a poisonous plant?

The first thing to look out for are any symptoms of distress. As many toxic plants are irritants, especially in the gastrointestinal tract, the most common symptoms are likely to be pain and inflammation in the stomach area, redness, swelling, and an itchiness of the skin or mouth. If the toxins invade a particular organ, then the symptoms will be directly related to that organ.

Typical symptoms include:

  • If Tiddles’ airways are affected, he will have trouble breathing normally.
  • If the throat, mouth or oesophagus are affected, drooling or difficulty with swallowing will occur.
  • If the stomach or intestines are affected, vomiting is the main symptom.
  • If the intestines or colon are affected, then diarrhoea will result.
  • If the kidneys are affected, excessive drinking and urination will take place.
  • If the heart is affected, fast, slow, or even irregular heartbeats will be the symptom.

If your cat has eaten plant matter and you’re not sure if it’s toxic,

  • Immediately remove any plant material you find on your cat’s fur.
  • Try to identity the plant, as this is vital for determining what treatment is required. If you don’t recognise the plant, take it with you to the vet.
  • If Tiddles has vomited, collect some for the vet.

Veterinary care

Your vet can make the most accurate diagnosis if he can identify the plant that’s been ingested. After examining your pet, the vet will order blood tests to be carried out to determine what exactly is wrong and how badly the cat is affected. These tests are vital, especially if the plant is known to target particular internal organs.

At the veterinary surgery, once Fluffykins has vomited, the vet may administer activated charcoal to absorb any of the toxins remaining in the gut. Medication like sucralfate may also be given at this time as this helps to protect the damaged areas of the stomach. If necessary, anti-inflammatory medication and intravenous fluids will be used, especially if the gastro-intestinal tract has been seriously affected.

Unfortunately, certain plants are fatal for cats when eaten, no matter how quickly you get to a vet. Lilies are deadly and other plants can cause enough damage that long-term medication or a special diet may be necessary. Walk around your home and garden and get rid of any plants that may cause harm to your cat. If you can’t identify certain plants, take a cutting to your nearest garden centre and let them help identify any danger to your feline friend.


Article provided by Mike James, a tech-obsessed, cat-loving content writer

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63 thoughts on “Which common house and garden plants are poisonous for your cat?

  1. chrisscatmeow says:

    Good information everyone should know.I love growing flowers in my garden and knew off some of the dangerous plants but always a new one catches my eye in this case rhododendrons which I have two growing in my garden,will remove asap.

  2. weggieboy says:

    Reblogged this on weggieboy's blog and commented:
    Excellent information in this post for anyone with pets that might sample the houseplants. I’ve seen lists like this before, but this goes into detail about what is toxic to your pet and how its effects. I personally don’t keep plants around that I know might cause problems. Dougy isn’t much of a problem, but Andy is notorious for mouthing things.

  3. angela1313 says:

    I had an asparagus fern so old it was from pre-cat days. Milk would go out of her way to get to it, on top of the fridge, after the hanging basket, whereever I put it. The antique Wardian case i found solved the problem. The few plants I have now are under glass. It shows cats will go after plants that aren’t good for them and she was not a kitten, either. Poison plant reminders always bear repeating. Thanks.

  4. The Canadian Cats says:

    There is only one plant that Shoko eats or chews on. It is a palm but not a Sago Palm. It looks awful sick and feel the plants life span is going to be quite short. I love poinsettia but the same problem with them. The leaves tend to fall off which is tempting to a playing cat. I’m learning to like artificial poinsettia now.


    • Crystal Stewart says:

      My cat chews on what she can get at. She likes spider plants and other plants I’m not sure of the name of because they’re mom’s plants. We do have a palm tree. As far as I know she hasn’t tried the palm tree yet. It would be a good idea to get the full list of Poisonous House and Garden plants. Are leaves on our poinsettia fall off too and we keep the leaves picked up.

        • Crystal Stewart says:

          We buy 3 poinsettias at Christmas time. 1 for our house and 2 for gifts. We put the poinsettias up so our cat doesn’t get at them and she usually leaves them alone. We do have fake poinsettias too. We just don’t have a problem yet with our cat and the Poinsettias.

      • The Canadian Cats says:

        I do have some plants in the garden that are toxic to cats but the girls have never bothered with the lollies. Most other plants are fine for the cats. I did have 2 Monk’s Hoods in the garden and they were just beautiful with purple flowers. These plants are even poisous to the touch for humans and definitely if one eats them. Kali developed a liking for the Monk’s Hood and would shade herself under the leaves from the summer sun. She would lean her back against the trunk. I eventually had to dig them up and throw them out. She adored thos Monk’s Hood plants way more than she wanted to listen to me.

      • Crystal Stewart says:

        Why shouldn’t cat eat plants? I’ll look for the answer. I know I said I found a a way to share on wordpress but now I’m not so sure. Oh well, those things happen I guess.

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