Poisonous Plants, Foods, & Your Cat

Plants do make a home more inviting. Flowers can be used to show affection, sympathy, and other emotions.  Unfortunately many are also toxic to our feline friends.

The best defense against poisoning your Siberian or other cat, is to familiarize yourself with toxic plants and keep them out of your home. Because of this danger, I will be sharing pictures and information on some of the more common plants and foods that are dangerous. There are plenty of pet safe alternatives.

We’ll cover some of the more common flowers and plants here, but if you’d like more detailed information, click on the picture to the right. I won’t cover outdoor plant since your Siberians are going to be 100% indoor only pets.

 

 

Poisonous Plants and Flowers

Lilies

Lillies

The following types of lilies are very dangerous to cats: Asiatic lilies, Easter lilies, Japanese show lilies, rubrum lilies, stargazer lilies, red lilies, tiger lilies, Western lilies, wood lilies, and daylilies.  Easter lilies in particular can cause kidney and liver failure.

If your cat ingests even a small amount of a lily, you should contact your vet immediately.

Narcissus

Paper white

Narcissus includes flowers such as jonquils, amaryllis, paper whites, and daffodils. These beautiful flowers are blooming perennials that are often planted in gardens and found in bouquets. 

Flowers that fall in the Narcissus group contain a toxin called lycorine.  This can cause cardiac arrhythmia, low blood pressure, and convulsions. 

Azaleas & Rhododendrons

Azaleas and rhododendrons are related species of flowering shrubs and small trees that are toxic to cats. There are more than 1,000 species in this family of plants, and the degree of toxicity varies from moderate to severe.

The toxic component is called grayanotoxins. All parts of the plant are toxic and a cat can become poisoned by ingesting a tiny amount of the plant.

Symptoms of azalea or rhododendron poisoning  include gastrointestinal signs (drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite), heart arrhythmias, weakness, tremors, transient blindness, seizures, coma, and death).

If you have this species in your yard, avoid bringing flowers or plant clippings into the house.

Foxglove

Foxglove grows wild in nature, but is often used in gardens and flower boxes often without knowing it’s potential for danger. 

All parts of the plant are poisonous from the flowers to the berries to the leaves.  Even the water is poisonous when they’ve been placed in water.  

Foxglove contains the chemical digitalis which you might recognize from heart medication.  If ingested it can result in heart failure for cats, dog, or humans.

Foxglove

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe is often referred to as mother-in-law plant, chandelier plant, or mother of millions.         

Kalanchoe contains a toxin called bufadienolides.   These toxins cause gastrointestinal issues like drooling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  If your cat consumed large enough quantities it can cause heart arrhythmia.                        

Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia otherwise known as charming dieffenbachia, dumb cane, exotica perfection, giant dumb cane, gold dieffenbachia, spotted dumb cane, tropic snow, and variable dieffenbachia is a tropical flowering plant

This common houseplant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which cause oral irritation (burning feeling in the mouth, drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing).  Although generally not deadly, exposure to this plant is painful and extremely uncomfortable for cats, so these plants should not be kept in homes with cats.

Toxic Foods

Alcohol can cause liver and brain damage. Amounts as little as a tablespoon can be deadly.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine.  While this is in all chocolate, it is most concentrated in dark and bittersweet chocolate with high cocoa percentages.

Ingestion can cause tremors, seizures, and heart problems.

Beverages that contain caffeine can cause your cat to become restless, suffer from rapid breathing, heart palpitations and muscle tremors.

Most research on the toxicity of raisins and grapes is in dogs, and toxicity in cats is only anecdotal we would strongly advise that you keep these foods out of reach of your cat.

Dogs show acute kidney failure when they consume raisins and grapes.

A little bit of onion or garlic in a sauce or licked up by your kitty is unlikely to be an issue.  However, all members of the onion family can cause problems if eaten in sufficient quantity.

Eating a clove of garlic or a green onion may cause digestive upset. Eating some type of onion on a regular basis could cause anemia.

This is a sweetener used in a lot of sugar-free foods, especially chewing gum. There are no records of cats becoming ill from this product, but in dogs it can cause a severe drop in blood sugar — which can cause seizures and convulsions or even death — followed by liver failure.

However, as this sweetener is used in more products that cats might be attracted to such as peanut butter, it’s better to be safe and not let your cat eat foods that contain this ingredient.