Your cat probably loves chewing on things she isn't supposed to chew on. Don't they all? Sometimes that's a problem -- especially if she's chewing on dried flower arrangements. The issue is twofold: The flowers themselves pose a threat and so do the materials used to make the flower arrangements.
A surprising number of plants are poisonous to cats. Lilies, lilies of the valley, anemones, amaryllis, daffodils, chrysanthemums and cyclamen are the most common flowering plants responsible for poisoning calls to the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Azaleas, poinsettias, rhododendrons and tulips are other common flowering plants that are poisonous to cats. What do all of these flowers have in common? They're pretty, which means they're likely to be used in fresh and dry flower arrangements. Even when they're dry, they're still poisonous. Avoid them.
Even if you use cat-safe flowers in your dried flower arrangements, your cat may still chew on them. Cats impulsively chew on flowers and foliage. Whether they know it or not, this supplements their diet with folic acid. Even then, seemingly safe flowers can cause upset stomachs (and, yes, vomiting) or diarrhea. What's more, some dried flower arrangements include glue or similar substances that hold pieces together. If ingested, these materials can cause serious intestinal blockages or even acute poisoning. Again, it's best to keep flowers, fresh or dried, arranged or bundled, away from your cats.
It can take hours for your cat to show signs of poisoning, so if you know your cat's eaten part of a dried flower arrangement that includes poisonous foliage, call your vet immediately. In addition to the nausea and problems at the other end of the digestive track, a poisoned cat may have difficulty breathing, act confused, cough, appear lethargic or depressed, have dilated pupils, salivate excessively, have shivers, seizures, skin irritation and tremors, as well as exhibit general weakness, according to WebMD. Symptoms can escalate quickly, so keep an eye on your cat.
Calling for Help
Sometimes you can't reach a vet when you need one. That's why it's important to plan ahead and know how to get to the nearest 24-hour veterinary emergency room. It also helps to have a pet poison control number on hand. The National Animal Poison Control Center number is 1-888-426-4435. No matter who you contact, it's important you know the name of the dried flower your cat ate and how long ago she ate it. These two variables can dictate a range of treatments, which could mean life or death for your cat.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Toxic and Non-toxic Plant List -- Cats
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research & Extension: Toxic Plants Listed on Plant Materials List
- UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: Pets and Toxic Plants
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Animal Poison Control FAQ