Toxic Plants for Cats

Cat eating a plant

Not all plants are harmless for your cat!

Your garden is blooming in full splendour and your cat is nibbling at your garden plants with relish. As wonderful as this may seem, it can be life-threatening because not all plants are good for your cat's health! In this article you can find out everything on the important subject of toxic plants for cats.

Symptoms: What are typical signs of intoxication?

If your cat has eaten a toxic plant, its symptoms depend on the dose ingested. However, typical signs of intoxication are the following: 

  • Increased salivation 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Seizures and even paralysis 
  • Possibly breathing problems or cardiac arrhythmia 

Depending on the dose, cats can die from the consequences of intoxication. If you suspect that your cat may have ingested a toxic plant, you should go to your vet as early as possible.

Which plants are toxic for cats?

Toxic houseplants

Grasses are high on your cat's list of favourite foods, because they need them to be able to regurgitate hairballs. So you may have had to sacrifice a houseplant. 

However, this can also take a turn for the worse, because some houseplants are toxic for cats. Hence, you should ban the following houseplants from the four walls of your home or your balcony: 

Name  Characteristic 
Agave  Your cat's mucous membranes become irritated after consuming this fleshy-leaved plant. 
Hydrangea  Hydrangeas are toxic for cats. 
Oleander  Highly toxic for cats, oleander thankfully tastes very bitter. 
Poinsettia  Popular at Christmas, the poinsettia is very toxic for cats and dogs. 
Rubber tree  This popular houseplant is slightly toxic for cats. 
Weeping fig Irritation of the mucous membrane, vomiting and diarrhoea are typical signs of intoxication from the weeping fig. 
Cat salivating
If your cat is salivating or vomits, this suggests that it may be intoxicated.

Toxic garden plants

If your cat has outdoor access, it will definitely be happy every spring when your garden blooms. But make sure that your cat keeps its paws off the following poisonous garden plants: 

Name  Characteristic 
Aloe  The toxin aloin found in the leaves is poisonous for most pets. 
Crocus species  This lily family is beautiful and at the same time highly toxic for your cat. The toxins can lead to gastrointestinal complaints and at times worse signs of poisoning. 
Cyclamen  Toxic saponins impair breathing and lead to dangerous circulatory problems. 
Daffodils  Also known as jonquils, these plants lead to severe gastrointestinal complaints once your cat has consumed them. 
Ferns  Ferns classed as toxic plants (e.g. bracken) damage the bone marrow of humans and animals through the enzyme thiaminase. 
Hyacinth  There is a high concentration of toxins in hyacinth bulbs that are poisonous to cats.
Ivy  If your cat consumes ivy, it will salivate increasingly, perhaps vomit and can suffer from seizures and paralysis. 
Lilac  Many of the plant parts are toxic for cats. 
Lily of the valley  The glycoside contained in the flowers and fruits lead to severe cardiac arrhythmia in cats. An excessive dose can also lead to a fatal cardiac arrest. 
Philodendron (Monstera)  The philodendron is highly toxic for cats in particular and damages the kidneys. 

Why do cats eat plants?

When cleaning their fur, cats swallow a lot of hair by licking it off with their rough tongue. These hairs then mix in the stomach together with saliva to make larger hairballs. Longhair cats are particularly affected by this. If the hairballs are too big and don't reach the intestine, your cat will regurgitate them. 

Find out more information on hairballs in cats in our article. 

Your cat eats plants in order to encourage this. The fibres of young non-toxic grasses have a supportive effect and indirectly prevent the danger of bowel obstructions.

You can support your cat with freshly sown grains, sedge or ready-to-buy cat grass. In addition, these plants help to keep your cat away from toxic houseplants. 

You should definitely pay attention to the edges of the grass to make sure that your cat is consuming the right ones. They should be soft and not sharp. Sharp-edged grasses can severely damage your cat's mouth cavity or get stuck in the oesophagus.

Cat eating catnip
Dried catnip: A highlight for many cats.

Non-toxic plants for cats

Cats like to eat some non-toxic plant species, including in particular the following: 

1. Catnip 

Well-known amongst cat owners, this plant contains a substance that thrills cats. Its invigorating effect is euphoric for many cats, making them want to play with the plant. 

In contrast, other cats simply show it the cold shoulder. The exact reason for this has not yet been clarified. You can often find it in toys for cats or other objects (e.g. scratching trees).

2. Cat thyme 

What's more, the smell of cat thyme (Lat. Teucrium marum) is fascinating for some cats. This plant comes from the western Mediterranean and can be grown well as a potted or tub plant. 

Although these pretty purple flowering plants smell rather strongly of ether for cat owners, most cats flock to cat thyme even when dried. 

3. Valerian

Valerian (Lat. Valeriana officinalis) also stirs the interest of many cats. It is also popularly known as cat root. Cats like to roll on this herb and miaow loudly with pleasure.

Find great toys filled with valerian or catnip in the zooplus store!

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