Cats enjoy chewing plants and due to their ability to climb almost anything, it can be very difficult to keep plants out of their reach. This means if you are planning to have plants around the house, it is important to know which ones are poisonous to cats. If you cat goes outside, it is far more difficult to control what they come into contact with, so knowing the signs that something may be wrong is also important.
Some parts of some plants may be poisonous to cats but the general rule is to assume that if some parts are, all parts are. Some plants can cause inflammation to the skin, the mouth or the stomach if consumes while others may effect a specific organ such as the heart of the kidney.
Some of the commonly encountered toxic plants for cats include:
- Autumn crocus
- Azaleas and rhododendrons
- Castor bean plant
- English ivy
- Peace Lily
- Sago Palm
- Spanish thyme
- Tulips and narcissus bulbs
Signs of a problem
The majority of plants will cause problems to the gastrointestinal system in addition to visible signs such as inflammation or irritation of the mouth, redness or swelling or even itchiness. However, different effects can be a sign that a specific organ has been affected. These include:
- If the airways are affected, breathing will be difficult
- If the mouth, throat or oesophagus is affected, swallowing may be difficult or they may drool
- If the stomach or intestines are affected, they may vomit
- In the intestines or colon are affected, they may have diarrhoea
- If the kidneys are affected, they may drink excessively or urinate more than normal
- If the heart is affected, they may suffer with irregular, fast or slow heart rate
What to do
If you think your cat has eaten a plant that may be all or partly poisonous, you need to take them to see a vet. Before you do this, remove any of the plant material from their fur, washing with warm water and a touch of non-irritating soap if necessary. Find out what plant they have eaten or if you are unsure, take a sample with you to the vet. There are also poison helplines and websites that can be used to help identify the plant as your vet may not know more than you do on the subject.
The vet will likely give the cat a physical exam and determine if any tests are needed to check for organ problems. Sometimes, charcoal is given when the cat has been vomiting to help absorb anything toxic in the gut while anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed to deal with any inflammation they are suffering from. Intravenous fluids are given in more extreme cases.
Unfortunately, there are some plants that are fatal when eaten, such as lilies. Others can cause lasting damage that may mean the cat needs medication or a special diet in the long term. So trying to keep them away from dangerous plants in the first place is always the best course of action.