Cats And Plants

Cats love to chew on plants. In the wild, they nibble on grass. In the house, you might catch them chewing on your potted plants or freshly cut flowers. However, if you have a cat and plants in your house or yard, you have to be careful: Many house and garden plants are toxic to cats. While many of these plants will simply make your cat feel ill for a short time, other poisonous plants can kill your cat.

Common Toxic Plants for Cats

A complete list of toxic plants would, quite literally, fill a book. If you aren”t sure about whether a plant is safe, consult your vet. When in doubt, it is best to assume that the plant is dangerous.

Here”s a list of some of the more common plants that are poisonous to cats:

  • aloe vera
  • buttercup
  • baby”s breath
  • bleeding heart
  • clematis
  • bird of paradise
  • black-eyed Susan
  • chrysanthemum
  • calla lily
  • cornflower
  • daffodil
  • holly
  • honeysuckle
  • hydrangea
  • iris
  • mistletoe
  • oleander
  • peony
  • poinsettia
  • tiger lily
  • tulip
  • sweet pea
  • wisteria.

Remember, however, that this list is by no means all-inclusive.

Cats and Plants: Why Cats Eat Plants

Cats eat plants, especially grasses, to induce vomiting. Vomiting, in turn, removes hairballs. If you”ve seen your cat munching on grass in your yard or plants in your house, consider offering her wheat grass, which is sold in many pet stores or specialty food stores.

Poisonous Plants: Symptoms in Cats

If a cat eats a poisonous plant, he will likely experience a number of symptoms. However, the symptoms will depend on the type of plant the cat consumed, the plant”s toxicity and how much of the plant the cat ate.

If you notice the following symptoms in your cat, he could have eaten a toxic plant:

  • collapsing
  • cramps
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty breathing
  • excitability
  • loss of coordination
  • mouth blisters
  • nausea
  • shaking of the head
  • stomach tenderness/pain
  • trembling
  • vomiting.

Extremely toxic plants can cause kidney failure, coma and death. All parts of the tiger lily, for instance, are highly toxic. Ingesting them can cause kidney failure in cats.

If Your Cat Eats Poisonous Plants

The first thing to do if you suspect a toxic plant has poisoned your cat is to get her to the vet or emergency animal clinic as quickly as possible. If at all possible, take the plant with you for identification. For larger poisonous plants, take a few leaves or a flower.

If you cannot get to the vet, inducing vomiting may help the cat rid itself of ingested toxic plants in an emergency. Poisonous plants often cause vomiting anyway, so this step may not be necessary.

Before you induce vomiting, however, be sure that the cat has not ingested a caustic substance, such as battery acid, or a petroleum product, such as floor wax. These substances will cause more damage to the cat if he regurgitates them.

Vomiting can be induced by feeding the cat a tablespoon of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide. If the first dose does not induce vomiting, wait 10 minutes and try again. Do not give more than three doses of hydrogen peroxide. Also, do not attempt to feed the cat if she protests. Again, inducing vomiting is for emergencies only: Getting the cat to a vet is the best course of action.

You can also contact the ASPCA Pet Poison Control at (888) 426-4435. The ASPCA Pet Poison Control center can help you determine how serious the poisoning is and how to treat the cat. Be aware, however, that the service is not free and is not as effective as seeing your cat”s vet.