Many people decorate their homes with festive plants around the holidays. Others may give a plant or floral arrangement as a gift.
Although cats may see them as a treat, some of these decorations and gifts may be harmful. Before bringing any plants into your home, it’s essential to know which popular holiday plants are poisonous to your cat.
Which Holiday Plants Are Toxic for Cats?
While artificial trees are gaining popularity, many people still prefer getting a real tree for the holidays. If you’re one of those people and you own a cat, opt for a fir or spruce tree over a pine tree.
The oils in pine trees can be harmful to cats, potentially leading to liver damage and even death. Meanwhile, pine needles are sharp and can damage a cat’s internal organs if ingested. They also pose a hazard to paws if stepped on.
Cover the tree stand so your cat won’t drink the water. The water inside the plant stand could contain harmful bacteria and other pathogens.
Regardless of which tree you choose, be aware of the potential for the tree to tip over. Cats often get curious about decorations and will climb the tree to get a closer look.
To prevent an accident, secure the tree to the ceiling or wall using some fishing line to prevent the tree from falling over. Otherwise, try putting the tree in a location that can be closed off so your cat can’t get to it when you’re not home.
“Are poinsettias poisonous to cats?” These eye-catching red holiday favorites have gained a bad reputation amongst cat owners. The bad news is that, yes, poinsettias are toxic to cats.
These festive plants contain a sap inside their leaves that can irritate a cat’s mouth and esophagus. If ingested, cats may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or excessive drooling.
The good news is a cat would have to eat a large amount of poinsettia to get seriously ill. So, while poinsettias aren’t as toxic as some other plants, cat owners should leave them out of their holiday celebrations.
Similar in appearance to the poinsettia plant, amaryllis is a popular flowering holiday plant that is a member of the lily family. Unfortunately, whether it’s the bulb, leaves, stem or flowers, this plant poses a threat to cats if ingested.
Amaryllis plants contain the chemical lycorine, which can cause adverse effects to cats such as vomiting, diarrhea and tremors.
Holly & Mistletoe
When it comes to poisonous house plants for cats, neither holly nor mistletoe comes to mind. After all, the holidays wouldn’t feel complete without holly decking the halls or kissing beneath the mistletoe. However, if you have pets, it’s best to go with the artificial route rather than risk it with these cat-unfriendly holiday plants.
Holly contains harmful chemicals that are toxic to cats. If ingested holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and drooling. This spiny leaved, berry-producing plant can be lethal to cats and should not deck the halls of your home during the holidays.
Like holly, avoid using mistletoe if you own cats. Mistletoe contains phoratoxins and lectins, which can cause similar reactions to holly. In larger amounts, severe reactions may occur, including a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, breathing problems, seizures and death.
Another holiday plant cat owners should keep out of their homes are lilies. Unfortunately, the entire plant and even the water in the vase, can be toxic to cats and can cause serious harm or death. Even small amounts of this plant can cause arrhythmia or kidney failure.
Azaleas, which are also sometimes known as rhododendron or rosebay, are another holiday plant cat owners should never allow in their homes. However, be on the lookout because they often appear in holiday bouquets or floral arrangements.
Azaleas contain a toxin called grayanotoxin, which can adversely affect the sodium channels within a cat’s body. Azalea toxicity can cause a wide range of symptoms, including excessive drooling, decreased appetite, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and even cardiac failure. Note that all parts of the azalea plant are toxic to cats.
What if Your Cat Ingests a Poisonous Plant?
The best way to keep your cat safe is to avoid bringing plants poisonous to cats into your home at all. If you do bring them into your home, keep them well out of reach. If you suspect your cat ingested any amount of a toxic plant, call your veterinarian immediately. You can also contact the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888)426-4435.
Explore other pet safety tips for the holidays to find out which decorations and other festive items pose a risk. To get more information and advice from our pet experts, visit our Pet Expertise page.