Is Amaryllis Toxic to Cats?

Kitties are curious by nature and may find your pretty amaryllis plants especially interesting. Unfortunately, felines tend to explore things they are curious about, like plants, by tasting them. Amaryllis plants are just one of many toxic plants that should be kept out of your home and garden to protect your furry friend.

The Amaryllis

Amaryllis plants are a type of lily, sometimes referred to as a Belladonna lily or Saint Joseph lily. The plant, which is the only member of the subgenus amaryllidaceae, contains lycorine, a toxic substance for cats and dogs if it's ingested, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The plant produces trumpet-shaped flowers that usually appear red or scarlet, but can come in a variety of colors, including white and pink. It’s commonly given as a gift during the holiday season either as a houseplant to nurture until it’s warm outside. The amaryllis flower is also a common cheerful addition in holiday plant or floral arrangements in place of a traditional poinsettia. Around that time of year, be sure to ask your florist which flowers she has included in your decorative bouquets. Note that other common names for the amaryllis include the cape belladonna and naked lady.

Nibbling on Flowers

Your kitty can become poisoned by nibbling on the flowers, stems or leaves of an amaryllis plant. The extent of the poisoning and severity of his symptoms depends on how much of the plant he has ingested. The amaryllis bulb has an especially high concentration of lycorine, which is a type of phenanthridine alkaloid that causes gastrointestinal upset. Symptoms of amaryllis poisoning include excessive drooling or salivation, abdominal pain, vomiting, respiratory depression, a drop in blood pressure, a change of heart rate, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite, according to Bring your kitty to the vet immediately if you believe that he has been chewing on any amaryllis plants.

Veterinary Treatment

Possible poisoning by an amaryllis plant is a serious medical emergency which requires treatment by your vet. If your vet isn't available, you'll need to go to an emergency veterinary clinic or contact the ASPCA. Bring cuttings of the part of the plant you believe your kitty has been munching on to the vet so that she can identify it properly. While there isn't a cure for amaryllis poisoning, your vet may induce vomiting to rid your cat of the large amounts of toxins in its system. The vet also may provide intravenous fluids to keep the cat hydrated and some activated charcoal to absorb the toxins from its system, according to PetMD. The care they'll give will depend on your particular kitty and the amount of the plant he has eaten.


Any member of the liliaceae are very toxic to kitties and should be kept away from them. Keep any floral arrangements you receive as gifts in rooms that are off-limits to your furry friend; you don't know exactly which flowers were included in them. If your furry companion has access to your outdoor garden, keep amaryllis plants out of there as well. Remember that your kitty is able to jump to high places so even plants placed on windowsills or counter tops aren't out of reach for your furry companion. If your kitty likes plants, provide him with some healthy barley grass or catnip to nibble on. Consult with your vet if you aren't sure if a plant is toxic or not before displaying it in your home or in your garden.

the nest