Some cats make a habit of chewing on houseplants whenever they get the chance. As pet owners we might think of that in terms of the damage done to the plants, and seek to protect our plants from being eaten, but chewing up certain houseplants can also be hazardous to the cat. Some plants can make cats sick, and some are toxic enough to potentially even kill a cat that consumes too much.
You should always keep your veterinarian’s phone number handy in case you suspect your cat has been poisoned. If you cannot reach your veterinarian, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) maintains a National Animal Poison Control Center that you can call at 900-443-0000 or 888-426-4435, though be aware that there is a charge.
By administering the right treatment in time, you may be able to avert a tragedy. But better yet is to prevent the problem by not keeping plants in your house that are toxic to cats. It is not possible to list all the plants that are known to be poisonous to cats here (you can see a more comprehensive list of 400 such plants at the ASPCA site), but we will note ten of the most common:
If a cat ingests an amaryllis bulb, it can suffer abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and hyper salivation.
A cat that has eaten azaleas may show symptoms including trembling, lack of coordination, and even collapse.
A cactus is not so much poisonous, as hazardous to keep in a house with a cat because the quills can easily puncture the skin and lead to infection.
A cat that has ingested caladium may become nauseated, vomit or suffer from diarrhea. In some cases the cat may have difficulty breathing.
Creeping Charlie can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps in cats.
The tropical dieffenbachia plant contains toxic calcium oxalate crystals called raphides that can affect the central nervous system.
Lilies in general and the Easter lily in particular are highly toxic to cats, to the point that you should seek medical attention for your cat if it consumes any part of a lily, no matter in what amount and no matter if any symptoms are yet apparent. Lilies can cause kidney failure and death.
Many varieties of ivy are poisonous to cats, with the leaves generally posing a greater hazard than the berries. Possible effects include abdominal pain, excitable behavior, vomiting, diarrhea and hyper salivation.
Feel free to kiss your cat under the mistletoe, but hang it high enough to be out of reach. Ingesting mistletoe berries can cause blistering in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea and breathing problems in cats.
It’s one of the most popular houseplants in the world, but the philodendron should not be popular amongst cat owners. It can cause vomiting, swallowing difficulties and hyper salivation in cats.
Lynn McAlpine, “House Plants That are Poisonous to Felines.” eHow.
Franny Syufy, “Plants Poisonous to Cats.” About.com.