Cat & Dog Care: deadly toxic plants | Responsible Pet Ownership

Pretty Deadly for Your Cat: 8 Toxic Plants

Pretty Deadly for Your Cat: 8 Toxic Plants

Houseplants and gorgeous gardens are the pride of many homeowners. We spend hours and lots of money selecting the perfect plant, tilling the soil and helping them to flourish. Plants inside the home have been shown to reduce indoor pollutants and freshen the air. Cut flowers from the florist can show someone that you care and can brighten up the room. But all of this beauty can be deadly… if you have a cat.

Many houseplants are toxic to both cats and dogs. Some can cause mild digestive upset while others can cause irreversible organ damage and death. It is important for all pet owners to be aware of these toxic plants and avoid having them in your home. Cats are especially at risk for poisoning, as they are very curious creatures and can jump up high to reach almost any plant for tasting.

8 Common Toxic Plants:

 LilyToxic Plant for Cat - Holly and Hugo Animal Care

Lilies are beautiful and many varieties make beautiful bouquets and houseplants. Easter lilies are popular during the spring and Tiger lilies make their debut in the gardens all summer long. If your own a cat, think again before introducing any variety of lily into your home or garden. All parts of the lily are deadly if eaten by cats, including the pollen!  Pollen from cut lilies in floral arrangements has been known to cause death in cats. The toxic principle is still unknown to science but something in the lily causes acute kidney failure in cats. If you have lilies nearby and your cat begins to show signs such as vomiting, anorexia, lethargy and less urination – seek veterinary medical care immediately.


The amaryllis plant has large, showy blooms in red, white and other colors. It is a common gift around Christmas and Easter each year and bloom indoors and outdoors. The leaves and blooms are toxic to both cats and dogs, causing diarrhea, depression, vomiting, excessive salivation, abdominal pain, anorexia and seizures.


Oleander plants are common in subtropical and tropical areas as outdoor ornamentals. They have long, slender leaves and pink to purple blooms. Outdoor cats and dogs can be exposed to oleander poisoning if they decide to take a quick bite of a bright bloom or clippings from landscaping crews. Signs of toxicity include heart arrhythmias, lethargy, hypothermia, vomiting, diarrhea and even sudden death.

Aloe VeraToxic Plans for Cats - Holly and Hugo Animal Care Courses

Aloe is a popular plant to keep at home as a remedy for minor cuts and burns. Just snip off a portion of the plant and rub it on your skin… if you’re a human!  Aloe plants are toxic to cats and dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, seizures and change in urine color.

Baby’s Breath

A popular tiny white flower often used in floral arrangements, baby’s breath is bite-sized for your curious kitten. Baby’s breath’s toxic principle causes vomiting, diarrhea and possibly dehydration in cats and dogs.


Diffenbachia, also known as “dumb-cane” is a popular houseplant. It is easy to care for and grows attractive tall, slender and sometimes striped leaves. It also contains a very irritating substances called calcium oxalate. Cats and small children often like to nibble on the leaves, causing numbness of the mouth and ulcerations if a large quantity is eaten. Other signs include excessive salivation, pawing at the mouth, difficulty swallowing, anorexia and vomiting.

Mistletoe Toxic Plant for Cat - Holly and Hugo Animal Care Courses

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without hanging mistletoe. Even if it hangs high in your home, leaves can fall to the floor where dogs and cats can take a nibble. Kissing under the mistletoe may make your heart race, but it can cause just the opposite when eaten by your pets. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, low heart rate, erratic behavior, diarrhea, low blood pressure and difficulty breathing.


These hardy potted plants are common gifts and are easy to care for. Their bright blooms, leaves and especially roots are toxic to dogs and cats. After ingestion, intense vomiting and diarrhea occur and some deaths have been reported.

“Curiosity killed the cat” and that is often what happens when cats are around the wrong plants. Taking a nibble here and there is annoying but can also be deadly.

Do your pets a favor by doing a quick inventory of plants in your house and garden – it could save their life! If you want to learn more about cat care consider taking our Animal Care course.

 Deborah Shores

Deborah Shores, DVM, is an American Veterinarian and a 2008 graduate of Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science, minor in Chemistry, from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, USA. As a child, she was obsessed with horses and received her very own mare, named Ivy, at the age of 10. She wanted to become a vet at the age of 13, when her beloved horse had to undergo a complicated eye surgery at the University of Georgia. The veterinary surgeons allowed her to watch the procedure in the operating theatre and she was hooked! As a military spouse, she has lived throughout the USA, in Poland and Japan. In the last 6 years, Dr. Shores has worked as a clinical veterinarian for dogs, cats, small mammals and non-human primates (macaque monkeys) and as a freelance writer. She has also taught anatomy and physiology as an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. Her passion is educating animal lovers about pet care and common animal diseases. She currently has two mischievous tabby cats, Hummer and Piper. Both cats are also world travellers and enjoy basking in the warm afternoon sun.

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