Do you know which garden plants cause risks to your cat's health?

Cats, with their curious nature, are drawn to the outdoors. But it’s crucial to ensure their safety – including when it comes to the plants and flowers that surround them. Check out this essential guide detailing garden plants that pose risks to your cat’s health, along with key symptoms to watch out for and prevention methods.

Garden plants and flowers that are poisonous to cats
  • Lilies
    Many individuals are aware that lilies are dangerous to cats. These beautiful flowers come in various types such as Asiatic lily, Daylily, Easter lily, Japanese Show lily, Oriental Lily, and many more – all of which are toxic to cats. Any part of the lily, including its pollen, can cause sudden kidney failure in cats when ingested, resulting in a need for immediate medical attention. If you have these plants in flower pots in your garden or are growing them in flower beds, it’s advised to remove them or keep them well out of reach of your cat.
  • Daffodils
    Daffodils, with their vibrant yellow blooms, are a common sight in spring, and are often a welcomed addition to gardens during the season. Despite their beauty, all parts of daffodils are toxic to cats, with the bulb containing the highest concentration of alkaloids, which can pose a danger to your feline friend. Ingestion of daffodil parts can lead to symptoms such as loss of appetite, diarrhoea, and more. These flowers naturally thrive in Europe and North Africa.
  • Foxgloves
    Foxgloves are known not only for their distinctive bulbs but also for their unpleasant odour. While this scent might deter your cat, there’s still a risk of your pet coming into contact with the pollen and grooming its fur. Ingesting foxglove flowers can result in irregular heartbeats, vomiting, and diarrhoea in cats. Without prompt treatment, ingestion of foxglove can progress to convulsions and even death, depending on the amount consumed.
  • Amaryllis
    Amaryllis, with their striking blooms, can pose a mild to moderate toxicity risk to cats if ingested. Lycorine, an alkaloid commonly present in the Amaryllidaceae plant family, is found in the leaves, petals, and stem of the flower. Depending on the quantity consumed, ingestion of this toxin can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain in cats. Amaryllis plants are commonly found in various regions around the world, including South Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
  • Hydrangeas
    Hydrangeas are available in 75 different varieties and come in many vibrant colours. Hydrangeas are toxic to cats. They contain cyanogenic glycosides, chemicals that can induce vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy in cats when ingested in significant amounts. The greatest species diversity is in eastern Asia, notably Japan, Korea, and China.
  • Azaleas
    Every aspect of these vibrant flowers poses a toxicity risk to cats. Azaleas contain the toxin grayanotoxin, which, when ingested, disrupts the cat’s sodium levels, potentially causing issues with the heart and skeletal muscles. While most species originate from eastern Asia and the Himalayan region, smaller populations can be found elsewhere in Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia.
  • Hyacinths
    Hyacinths, with their array of colours, pose a significant toxicity risk to cats if ingested. These plants contain alkaloids that can induce vomiting, diarrhoea, and potentially more severe symptoms in felines. The ingestion of hyacinth can lead to gastrointestinal distress and other complications in cats, making it crucial to keep them out of reach of curious felines.
  • Oleanders
    Widespread in the United States, Oleander poses a grave threat to cats due to its extreme toxicity. This shrub, known for its flowers and fruit, carries toxins throughout its entire structure, including the leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and roots. The toxic compounds in oleander are cardiac glycosides, which can have severe effects on a cat’s heart and overall health if ingested.
  • Crocuses
    Spring crocuses are toxic to cats, although not as potent as the autumn crocus. Despite containing colchicine in lower concentrations, ingestion of the spring crocus can still lead to health issues in cats. Symptoms of poisoning may include mild gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhoea. The spring crocus is commonly found in various regions across Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
How to deter your cat from toxic plants

There are several ways you can keep your feline friend away from these toxic plants and flowers, such as:

  • Placing the plants in a greenhouse.
  • Creating a physical barrier around the plant.
  • Squeezing lemon or another bitter tasting substance on the plant.
  • Replacing the plants with safer alternatives.
  • Supervising your cat when they’re outdoors.
  • Applying cat safe sprays to the plant.
Signs of plant poisoning in cats

Below are some behavioural and physical changes in your cat to be vigilant about. If you notice any of these signs and suspect that your cat has come into contact with a toxic plant, it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately for prompt evaluation and treatment. Your quick action could help prevent further harm to your feline companion.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Excessive sneezing
  • Appears disoriented
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Drooling
  • Tremors, seizures, or
  • twitching
  • Hiding – Bloody vomit, saliva, and/or stools
  • Racing heart rate
  • Jaundice
  • Drinking more than normal or excessive urination
We hope you found this blog useful and now have a keen eye for certain plants to be cautious of when your cat next explores the great outdoors.

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Article written by IAPWA volunteer Chloe Ashford