You may not realize that the beautiful yellow lily you just placed on your kitchen counter could potentially poison your cat. There are hundreds of flowers and plants that are toxic to cats, so if you want to keep flowers in your home, be sure they aren't poisonous to your pet.
Protecting Your Cat
The simplest way to protect your cat from poisonous flowers is to avoid keeping them in your home altogether. If having fresh flowers in your home on occasion is a joy you simply cannot give up, however, at least be sure to keep the flowers somewhere your cat can't reach them. For outdoor cats, preventing access to poisonous flowers may be more complicated. Avoid cultivating poisonous flowers in your yard or fence off your garden to prevent your cat from getting into it. If you suspect that your cat has ingested a poisonous flower, seek veterinary care immediately.
According to the Michigan State University Cooperative Extension, Easter lilies are the third most popular potted flower in the United States, especially during the spring, and other varieties of lily are often used in bouquets and floral arrangements throughout the year. Unfortunately, several lily varieties are poisonous to cats, including Easter lilies, day lilies, tiger lilies and Japanese show lilies. After ingesting these flowers, cats may exhibit signs of lethargy and loss of appetite in addition to vomiting, and could suffer kidney damage.
Tulips are a bright-colored flowering plant that can be planted outdoors or kept indoors in pots. These flowers are a popular addition to the home garden, but unfortunately they are poisonous to cats. If ingested, the bulbs of tulips can cause excessive drooling and gastrointestinal irritation. Unless your cat receives immediate veterinary care, he may go on to develop depression of the central nervous system as well as convulsions and cardiac issues.
Azaleas are a species of rhododendron, a flowering shrub commonly found in outdoor gardens. The flowers of the plants are highly toxic to cats because they contain grayanotoxins, a substance which disrupts the sodium channels in the cat's skeletal and cardiac muscles. If ingested by cats, azalea flowers can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite in addition to more serious conditions like hypotension, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures and depression of the central nervous system. Without prompt treatment, azalea poisoning can lead to a coma.
Buttercup is a wildflower that can be mildly to moderately toxic for cats. These plants are also called butter cress and figwort and can be identified by their small yellow flowers. If you have an outdoor cat who is prone to wandering, he may be exposed to buttercup in overgrown fields or meadows, though ornamental varieties of this plant can also be grown indoors. The flowers of this plant are the most toxic part, containing a chemical called ranunculin which turns into the toxin protoanemonin when chewed or crushed. Cats who ingest this plant may experience swelling in the mouth, drooling, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Katherine Barrington has written on a variety of topics, from arts and crafts to pets, health and do-it-yourself projects. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a creative writing concentration from Marietta College.