Are Poinsettas Poisonous to Cats?

by Melodie Anne Coffman, Demand Media Google
    Poinsettias are not a major concern, but other holiday plants may be harmful.

    Poinsettias are not a major concern, but other holiday plants may be harmful.

    You've purchased one of your favorite holiday plants, the poinsettia; and as soon as you place it on the table, your feline family member stuck his face in it. Although poinsettias are thought to be poisonous to pets, they are not deadly. they may cause minor illness, though.

    What's the Danger?

    Poinsettia plants can make your furry friend a little ill, explains the Pet Poison Helpline. The leaves of poinsettias contain natural chemicals in the form of milky white sap. This sap substance leaks out when Scrappy chews on the plant, and he'll probably ingest a small amount. Don't panic. He'll be okay. His body may try to get rid of the substance through vomiting or diarrhea, which is normal. He might drool slightly until the substance gets out of his system. Once in a while, the milky sap can irritate a feline's skin, resulting in redness and itching.

    Treatment

    Since there is minimal risk of serious implications from poinsettias, there are no antidotes. Your curious companion should recover from any mild gastrointestinal disturbances within a few days all on his own. If he stops eating and drinking, or seems oddly lethargic, inform your vet or take him in for a checkup as a precautionary measure.

    Bigger Problems

    Other holiday plants are bigger concerns than poinsettias. Holly, holly berries, mistletoe and rosemary can be toxic to your furry family member. English holly is particularly dangerous since the prickly leaves can tear your feline's sensitive digestive tract, leading to severe gastrointestinal problems.
    Lilies, which are common flowers in bouquets, are extremely harmful. The petals and pollen from lilies may lead to acute kidney failure, which can be fatal. If you have any of these plants in your home, you need to take certain precautions to keep your frisky pal away.

    Keeping Cats Away

    Ideally you should avoid having these hazards in your home, but during the holiday season, you'll probably want to decorate. Keep your plants, even poinsettias, up as high as possible, out of climbing cats' reach since they might give your kitty a slight belly ache. If you hang holly, make sure Scruffy can't reach any parts that dangle. Pet stores sell cat repellents in the form of sprays or granules. Spraying the area around the plant or adding granules to the soil may keep your curious friend away from the plant hazards. Cats usually don't like citrus, so if you spray a little lemon oil on the leaves of poinsettias and other plants, your fuzzy pal probably won't want to nibble on it.

    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

    Photo Credits

    • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images