Weeds can be the bane of your lawn's existence, but they can look like attractive snacks to your kitty. If he runs to grab a tasty dandelion treat every time you let him outside, the plant is unlikely to hurt him. However, herbicides on the dandelion are a different story.
Are Dandelions Poisonous?
Cats typically are carnivorous, preferring meat to vegetables. However, he might sneak a salad snack occasionally out of boredom, habit or just because it looks tasty. Dandelions are nontoxic to cats, so a few bites here or there shouldn't hurt your kitty.
Possible Tummy Upset
Cats aren't designed to eat much in the way of vegetation; their systems thrive on protein. Even nontoxic plants can give your furry friend a bit of a tummy ache if he eats too much of them. If you see him gnawing on the fluffy dandelion leaves, make sure he keeps it to just a few bites. Eating too much green stuff can upset his digestive system, although not normally to a dangerous level. A little bit of appetite loss, vomiting and diarrhea is common, but check with your vet if it goes on more than a day or so.
While the plant itself isn't much of a problem for cats, herbicides you use to get rid of the pesky dandelions are more of an issue. Spraying liquid herbicides directly on the plants, or spreading granular herbicides by themselves or as part of a weed and feed application can leave dangerous chemical residue on the dandelion leaves for days. Watch your kitty closely if you've recently treated the lawn or the weeds. Take him into the vet immediately if he becomes lethargic or starts vomiting excessively after eating treated dandelions.
Cat's Ear and Other Plants
What you think is a dandelion might be a cat's ear plant instead. They look remarkably similar, although the cat's ear often grows bunches of flowers on wispy stems inside the leafy base. The good news is that whether the plant you see is a dandelion or cat's ear, it's not toxic to your feline friend. However, cat's ear can be poisonous if ingested by horses. Other flowers that bear a slight resemblance to dandelions that are safe for your kitty to eat include marigolds, goldenrod and asters.