Beautiful and Deadly: 10 Flowering Plants that are Poisonous to Cats


We know that onions and garlic are poisonous to cats because they can cause hemolytic anemia, but did you know that most bulb-type flowers like Irises and Lilies are also harmful to them?

Flowers bring color to any home so it is not a surprise if we have a couple of flowering plants or an occasional bouquet to spruce up our abode. It is not just us – our neighbors may have flower gardens too where our outdoorsy cat would like to explore.

Toxic Flowering Plants for Cats

Not all of the flowers at home or in our neighbors’ are safe for our curious felines to nibble, sniff or rub against, so it is better if we know which plants we need to keep our kitties away from. Here are some of them:

  1. Anthurium

Also known as: Flamingo Lily, Tail Flower, Oilcloth Flower, Pigtail Plant, Painter’s Pallet

Anthuriums are heart-shaped flowers (which are actually a modified leaf; the real flowers are on the stem-like spadix located at the center) that belong to the type of ornamental plants called Elephant Ears. They are characterized by their broad, heart-shaped leaves.

Anthurium and elephant ears, if nibbled by your cat, may cause irritation, pain, and swelling on the mouth, tongue, and lips; as well as drooling and swallowing difficulties.

  1. Autumn Crocus

Also known as: Meadow Saffron, Naked Ladies

The Autumn Crocus (scientific name Colchicum autumnale) must not be confused with the true Crocus; the Saffron Crocus (scientific name Crocus sativus) from which one of the world’s costliest spices – the saffron comes from.

Autumn Crocus is a cousin of lilies and tulips which are also in this article’s list. If ingested, a cat may experience diarrhea, hemorrhagic vomiting, bone marrow-suppression, damage in various organs, and shock.

  1. Cyclamen

Cyclamen are flowers of various colors including white, red, pink, and purple. The plant has heart-shaped leaves like the Elephant Ear-shaped Anthurium, except that its leaves are not single-toned green.

Cyclamen probably has one of the more potent toxin content among the list in this article. A poor cat will suffer drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea if it ingests the plant. Ingesting the tuber which is the most poisonous part can cause cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, and even death.

  1. Daffodil and Narcissus

Also known as: Jonquil, Paper White

Daffodil is a type of flower belonging to the genus Narcissus; a subgroup of flowering plants that grow from bulbs of which the Narcissus tazetta papyraceous or Paper White belongs to. Because Daffodils and Narcissus are of the same genus and have similar appearances, some people mistake one for the other.

What is certain, however, is that all the flowering plants of the Daffodil and Narcissus group are toxic to cats. The most poisonous portion of the plant is the bulb and if ingested, any poor cat will experience gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea.

Higher concentrations will result in low blood pressure, trembling, convulsions, and irregular heartbeat.

  1. Daisy

Varieties that are poisonous: Chamomile, Chrysanthemums / Mums, Chamomile, Daisy, Dog Daisy, Fleabane/Horseweed, and Mayweed

Not all daisies are poisonous to cats. African or Gerber Daisy, Blue Daisy, Blue-eyed Daisy, Easter Daisy, and China Aster, for example, may be nibbled by cats.

The other half of the Daisy group, however, contain toxins which can have negative effects to your kitty, ranging from mild health issues such as contact dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, and allergic reactions to more serious ones like anorexia, bleeding, loss of coordination leading to confusion and unsteady gait, and urination increase.

  1. Gladiolus and Iris

Variants: Butterfly Iris a.k.a. Spuria Iris, Iris a.k.a. Flag/ Snake Lily/ Water Flag

Gladioli and all variants of Irises are flowers that belong to the family Iridaceae. The highest concentration of cat toxin can be found in corms (similar to a bulb) for Gladiolus and the rhizomes for other Iris variants.

Symptoms of ingestion and poisoning include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

  1. Hyacinth

Poisonous variants: Garden Hyacinth a.k.a. Hyacinth

There are many variants of Hyacinth including Water Hyacinth, Grape Hyacinth, and Wild Hyacinths; but the only poisonous type so far is the Garden or regular Hyacinth.

Garden hyacinth contains alkaloids similar to that of Narcissus. Exposure to Garden hyacinth can cause dermatitis and other allergic reactions, while ingesting can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

  1. Kalanchoe

Also known as: Chandelier Plant, Mother-in-Law Plant, Devil’s Backbone, Mother of Millions, Widow’s Thrill

Kalanchoe is a flowering succulent. A kitty that happens to ingest the plant will experience gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea, vomiting, and, depending on the cat, abnormal heart rate.

  1. Lilies

Lily Variants: Asian/ Asiatic Lily, Climbing/ Glory Lily, Clivia Lily/ Clivies, Desert Rose/ Impala Lily/ Kudu Lily, Easter Lily, Japanese Show Lily, Lily of the Valley, Peace Lily, Orange Day Lily, Red Lily, Rubrum Lily, Stargazer Lily, Wood Lily

Non-poisonous: Cat Ear/ Sego Lily/ Mariposa Lily, Peruvian Lily, Sand/Mountain/ Star Lily, Speckled Wood Lily

Not Poisonous with Lily-like flowers and Lily on their names: Leopard Lily (Hyacinth family), Lily of the Valley Orchid, Prairie Lily/ Giant Rain Lily (Amaryllidaceae), Scarborough Lily, Torch Lily, Turf Lily, White Ginger/ Ginger Lily

Lilies are generally poisonous to cats, with only 4 exceptions. The rest, however, are deadly which can cause your cat vomiting, lethargy, kidney failure, loss of appetite, and even death.

Take note, however, that not all flowering plants with the name “Lily” in them are all lilies – true lilies belong to the family Liliaceae, genus Lilium. Their toxin targets the urinary system of cats which is why they are fatal.

  1. Bulbous flowers like Amaryllis, Tulip, Hyacinth, and Calla

Flowering plants that come from bulbs are cousins of the Lily group and like their dangerous cousins, these floras are toxic to your cat.

Effects range from gastrointestinal upset indicators like intense and burning irritation of the lips, mouth, and tongue, drooling and vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, stomach pain and diarrhea. Other symptoms include lethargy and depression, loss of appetite, and tremors.

Emergency Care

With the symptoms of flowering plant poisoning similar to one another, it can be quite difficult to identify right away which plant is the culprit behind your kitty’s toxic trouble, unless you have seen your feisty feline rub itself or walk through these plants. Some of the flower’s pollen may have been inadvertently ingested or exposed to your cat.

Additionally, the safety window is around 1-2 hours, so you have to act quickly.

Rather than spend time worrying about which plant poisoned your cat, contact the vet first to ensure that you get an appointment. While waiting for the time to go to the vet, do the following:

  • Check your pet for any possible traces of the plant. Remove any plant material, seen or unseen through the naked eye with a paper towel and keep the traces in case they are needed for analysis.
  • Give your cat a short bath if possible. Use warm water and kitty-safe soap or shampoo.
  • Do no induce your cat to vomit. Rather than removing the toxin, this may only hasten the spread of poison. Trust your vet to do the job of proper flushing.
  • Try to collect all traces of the plant poison, including your cat’s vomit if there are any. If you are able to identify the plant that has possibly gotten to your cat, try to acquire a sample of it from the garden or pot for comparison.
  • Call the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) at 02073 055 055 or the Animal Poison Line at 01202 50 90 00. Note that charges may apply when you call.

You may also do a follow-up call with your vet afterward to inform them of what you have done so far, as well as of any traces you have collected to save time. Follow the vet’s advice and do not panic.

Treatment and After Care

Your vet may give activated charcoal to absorb the toxins ingested. Additionally, your cat may be subjected to medication, intravenous (IV) drip, as well as any needed supplement for faster recovery.

Your kitty will be required plenty of rest and in some cases when the poison has greatly affected your feline friend, a diet or lifestyle change may also be required, so always follow the vet’s instructions.

How to Prevent Plant Poisoning on Your Cat

Cats are sensitive to various plants so you will have to take these necessary steps to ensure the safety of your kitty:

  • Remove, if possible, poisonous plants and flowers in your garden, or in the vases and pots.
  • If removing of poisonous plants from the garden is not possible, ensure that your garden is either inaccessible to your cat or on the path your cat does not like to go through. Make use of your kitty’s GPS to trace its path and ensure that it stays on that path by occasionally putting catnips.
  • Make sure indoor plants are always out of your kitty’s reach. Remove fallen leaves and plant material as soon as they drop on the floor to keep your kitty from playing with them.
  • Design your garden in such a way that it will drive your cat away. Grow in your garden plants with a smell that your kitty finds offensive, like lavender and rosemary. Put chicken wires, stones, and pebbles to keep them from scratching and digging on the soil and turning into a secondary litter box.
  • Make cat repellent and spray it around the garden. You can also do the same for indoor plants to keep your kitty from getting too curious.
  • Make sure you know where your cats roam in the neighborhood so you are able to check whether their path goes through places with poisonous flowers and plants.
  • Share your knowledge with your neighbors regarding toxic flowers so that they too can help keep your cats out of their gardens without harming them.

Nothing beats cure better than prevention, and doing it as a community is even more helpful. Spread this awareness to your neighbors who have pets, whether dogs or cats, since some of the plants in the list above are not only toxic to cats but also to other pets.

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2 Replies to “Beautiful and Deadly: 10 Flowering Plants that are Poisonous to Cats”

  1. This article is an eye-opener for me. Didn’t realise these plants were dangerous for cats

  2. Thanks this is really helpful.

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