Twenty toxic plants for your cat (including Christmas)


Although sometimes you may be tempted to offer your cat something you are eating, you should keep in mind that the best way to feed it is by combining dry and wet feeding. This solution is the only one that can guarantee that your cat will not eat any forbidden food that could harm him.


There are a number of foods that are extremely dangerous for felines, and that can seriously harm their health. The main ones are:

- Chocolate: contains theobromine, which is a central nervous system stimulating alkaloid. Once ingested, it takes a long time to be removed from the cat's body, and can cause heart rate acceleration, excitement, diarrhea, vomiting, and even death.

- Caffeine: it is another stimulant of the nervous system of cats and, as such, can cause important disorders in it. Its effects are manifested by restlessness, rapid breathing, palpitations, seizures and diarrhea.

- Cooked, boiled or roasted chicken bones: they are not toxic to cats but they can be harmful, because the chicken bones are easily splintered, and can wreak havoc on the mouth or digestive system.

- Onion, scallions, leek and garlic: they contain thiosulfate, which is a compound that damages red blood cells. If you supply any of these foods to your cat, either in large doses or continuously, you can cause anemia or gastrointestinal problems, which are manifested by weakness, anemia, lack of appetite, vomiting and apathy.

- Beer and alcohol in general: in small doses it is not lethal, but if your cat takes it, it can suffer drowsiness, disorientation, urinary incontinence and even develop aggressive behaviors.

- Avocado: without becoming toxic, it is harmful because excess fat can cause stomach disorders or pancreatitis in cats.

- Nuts: regardless of whether they contain salt or not, it is not recommended that cats consume them due to the possibility of developing kidney failure, vomiting, diarrhea and other digestive problems.


If your cat loves to nibble the leaves of the plants you should be careful, since there are many varieties that can be toxic or poisonous, causing eye damage, dermatitis, digestive disorders, kidney, and even nervous system disorders. For this reason, it is important that you immediately go to the veterinarian if you observe any of the following symptoms after ingestion:

- Irritations to the skin and eyes.

The relationship of the main poisonous plants for cats are the following:

Felines love to nibble vegetables. Many are harmful and even lethal. Our expert explains it to you

Christmas is coming and with it everything that makes it Christmas: family, dinner, tree, decorations at home, in the streets, lights. And there are also certain plants that come home, such as poinsettia or poinsettia, mistletoe and holly.

What we may not know is that these species can pose a threat to our cats. They are very curious animals and love to nibble plants. Kittens have a greater danger since they like to investigate everything and do not put limits on their curiosity. A cat that tsale from home is probably more selective or at least has the option of choosing which plant bites (although this does not exempt from possible poisoning). But one who lives indoors only has access to those plants that we introduce into our homes.

The toxicity of the different plants is produced according to the part they ingest. There are certain toxic species in their entirety (leaves, flowers, roots / bulbs, seeds) and others that only one of the parts presents a risk, such as fruits. According to the toxic principle of each plant we can find different types of disorders: digestive, neurological, cardiac or dermatological and ocular.

This Christmas we must be especially careful if we have any of these three plants in our house: poinsettia, mistletoe and holly.

The poinsettia It became popular when Joel Roberts Poinsett, the US ambassador to Mexico, was struck by this red-leaved plant. It occurred to him to give it to his friends for Christmas, which is when he is at his best, and thus the tradition was born. Unfortunately for our cats, all parts of this plant can cause toxicity because what causes the damage is the white sap, or latex, which circulates inside. Its intake can produce gastrointestinal symptoms with hypersalivation, irritation of the mucous membranes, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. If the white sap of the plant comes into contact with the skin of our cat, it is enough to produce irritation generating dermatitis and pruritus (itching). If it comes in contact with the eye, it can also cause eye disorders.

The holly, which is a small tree known for its striking red fruits that are used as a Christmas ornament, produces toxicity if both the leaves and fruits and seeds are ingested. The holly contains saponins and with a minimum dose that they ingest, there would already be symptoms of intoxication that are usually gastrointestinal.

The mistletoe, popular for bringing good luck and happiness to lovers who kiss under it, it presents relatively toxic white fruits, although it requires a greater intake to produce an important poisoning. The mistletoe contains viscotoxin and this can occur from gastrointestinal disorders due to irritation, cardiovascular damage, collapse, bradycardia (low heart rate) and dyspnea (respiratory distress)

But it is not only at Christmas when we must be careful with the plants that enter our home or that we plant in our garden. There is a great variety that produces poisoning in our cats.

The plants that pose the greatest threat to our cats are very present in our lives. They are beautiful liliaceae and hemerocalis. They are very popular flowers in ornamental bouquets, such as indoor flowers, and bulbs are also sold for planting in the gardens. The substance that causes its toxicity is not known, but it is shown to cause acute renal failure in cats. Exposure to any part of these plants: stem, leaves, flowers, pistils, stamens, roots or pollen, is sufficient to produce a lethal toxicity. Such is the risk of this plant, that although our cat does not nibble on it, the pollen that can fall on its fur when passing next to the plant and which it will later ingest during grooming, is cause for alarm and endangers his life.

Symptoms usually appear in the first 12 hours after intake and usually present with vomiting, anorexia (lack of appetite), depression, polyuria (urinate more than normal) and polydipsia (drink more than normal). Renal failure occurs at 24-96 hours.

Mortality in cats that have ingested this plant is very high, and those that survive may suffer permanent kidney damage. If they are not given treatment, they will die in three to seven days.

Exposure to any part of the lilacs: stem, leaves, flowers, pistils, stamens, roots or pollen, is sufficient to produce a deadly toxicity

Unfortunately, and because of the high risk involved, the only way to avoid the toxicity of this plant is to avoid having it in our home. For this, we should not buy bouquets that contain them or the bulbs to plant in the garden. If you give us a bouquet with this flower, you should remove them and clean the area where they have been to ensure that there is no remaining pollen.

There are other plants that, although not as lethal as liliaceae, we must also take special care.

The oleander, For example, it contains cardiac glycosides, better known as digitalis, a substance widely used in human and veterinary medicine, which causes inhibition of the sodium-potassium pump and causes a slowdown in the electrical activity of the heart. The symptoms it produces are bradycardia (low heart rate), ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death. All parts of the plant are toxic and a minimum intake is sufficient to cause harmful effects. Other plants that have the same toxicity are the foxglove and the convalaria or Lily of the valley.

The species of rhododendron, like the azaleas, contain an andromedotoxin that affects the sodium channels in cell membranes and give rise to neurological, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal dysfunctions. This toxin is found throughout the plant and after ingesting only a couple of leaves, they can cause severe toxicity.

The diphenia, which is also frequently found in flower arrangements, contains insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate that cause mechanical irritation of the oral cavity. They cause oral pain, severe inflammation, difficulty swallowing, hypersalivation, depression and anorexia. All parts of this plant are toxic. The lilies of peace, the creek and the philodendron They also contain this toxic principle.

The list goes on, and the number of plants that may pose a risk to our cats is surprising. They can be more or less dangerous but we must also be very careful with the aloe vera, the hydrangeas, the primulas, the cyclamen, the Poto, the ivy, the climbing lily and the laurel, among many others.

But if you like plants as much as I do and you don't want to give up being able to decorate your home with them, you don't have to worry, since there is also a wide list of plants that are safe for our cats and with which we can live with tranquility in our home. I recommend some of my favorites: orchids,petunias,roses,violas, African violets, phytonias, marigolds Y Camellias

MARÍA VIGIL She is a veterinarian at the Nova Clínica center, in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) and Master in Feline Medicine.

4. Renal failure

It usually shows the first symptoms after a few hours after intoxication, the main one being vomiting, so it can be confused with a gastrointestinal disorder. As the days go by and the renal failure becomes more extensive, the vomiting remits and other signs appear, such as weight loss (anorexia), dehydration and depression.

5. Allergic dermatitis

This type of condition appears by direct contact with the toxic plant and develops irritation in the affected area, inflammation, itching and severe pain, stinging, redness and even hair loss.

Depending on the type of poisoning and the plant, the cat can develop one type of disorder or several. Below we show you the most common toxic plants depending on the type of damage that their consumption or friction produces in our cat.

Toxic plants for cats that produce digestive, neurological or cardiac disorders

The most common toxic plants that cause heart disorders, damage to the digestive or nervous system of our cat are the following:

  • Oleander. It mainly develops gastrointestinal problems, but, depending on the amount ingested, it can also present respiratory distress, arrhythmias and cardiac arrest in the most extreme cases. It can cause fever and drowsiness.
  • Azalea. Although it mainly affects the digestive system, producing diarrhea, vomiting and excessive salivation. In small quantities, it can also develop a lack of coordination accompanied by hallucinations. Ingesting higher amounts can cause acute digestive damage, respiratory distress, heart rhythm disturbance, seizures, hypertension, coma and even death in the most severe cases.
  • Diefenbaquia. All parts of this plant are toxic to cats, so it can be damaged after ingestion or simply by direct contact. By contact the plant produces dermatological disorders, such as irritation, inflammation of the area, redness or blisters. By ingestion, it produces oral burning instantly, so it is most common for the cat to stop eating immediately. In addition, it causes inflammation of the throat, pain, swelling of the neck, stomach and esophagus, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, vomiting, respiratory distress and, in the most severe cases, asphyxiation.
  • Eucalyptus. This is one of the easiest plants to find in forests and landscaped public areas, so if your cat tends to escape or gives you total freedom to go for a walk, you should be very careful. Ingesting it causes gastrointestinal disorders, diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Ivy. All parts of this plant are poisonous, especially their fruits are highly dangerous. Its intake produces both gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea and vomiting, as spasms and heart rate acceleration. In addition, simple contact with the skin develops dermatitis and rashes in our cat. In the most serious cases in which more of this plant is consumed, it can cause death.
  • Hydrangea. Both the leaves and flowers are toxic, and the most common symptoms of poisoning by this plant are typical of gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain). Depending on the amount ingested, it can affect the nervous system causing motor problems, such as lack of coordination.
  • Hyacinth. Although the flowers are toxic, the most dangerous part for cats is the bulb. It causes digestive disorders such as gastrointestinal irritation, diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Lily. Ingesting this toxic plant for cats mainly produces digestive disorders, such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and malaise. In the most severe cases it can cause hypertension and increased feline blood pressure.
  • Marijuana. Although it is illegal to have this plant at home, you should know that its intake is highly toxic to the cat. The symptoms you will present will be lack of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, seizures, increased heart rate and, in the worst cases, coma.
  • Mistletoe. The most toxic part of this plant is the fruit and rather large quantities are required to produce serious poisoning. They produce gastrointestinal damage that will develop vomiting, diarrhea and malaise in the feline. It can also cause pupil dilation and excessive salivation. In cases where a large number of fruits are ingested, the damage produced will be neurological and cardiovascular, causing respiratory distress, asphyxiation, increased heart rate, tachycardia, lack of coordination, seizures, coma and even cardiac arrest.
  • Poinsettia. One of the most common plants in homes during winter and, at the same time, one of the most toxic for cats. If ingested, it can cause digestive disorders that will cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In case of having direct contact with the sap of the plant, this will cause irritation to the skin and eyes of the cat, itching and rashes.
  • Daffodil. All varieties of narcissus are toxic to cats as a whole. By contact the plant develops skin irritation, while ingested produces serious gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting and acute diarrhea, inflammation and abdominal pain, and cardiac disorders that can lead to the death of the animal.
  • Tulip. All parts of the tulip are toxic, their intake can cause gastrointestinal irritation in the cat accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.

In addition to these toxic plants, there are other highly dangerous for felines that also cause digestive, nervous or heart problems: garlic, apple tree and apricot tree (the seeds and bones of the fruits are toxic), aconite, aligustro, lupine, aloe, anapelo , gold button, horse chestnut, onion, cubic, foxglove, blackthorn, estramonium, yellow jasmine, bay leaf, hedgerow plant, rhododendron, elder and yew.

If you have any of these plants at home you should make sure that it remains far from your cat's reach. Also, if you suspect that your cat has been intoxicated by the ingestion or direct contact of any of them, do not hesitate and take it to the vet as soon as possible. Remember that the severity of the symptoms is tied to the amount ingested of the plant and that, even, some are fatal.

Toxic plants for cats that damage kidney function

The most common plants that cause renal system dysfunction in cats are the liliaceae (like tulips, lilies and lilies) and the hemerocallis (better known as day lilies). All parts of both plants are highly toxic, such is their toxicity that it is enough to ingest a simple leaf to develop the symptoms.

In case of nibbling or ingesting one of the two plants, the cat will present vomiting, loss of appetite and decay. As the damage to the renal system progresses, the feline will reduce vomiting until its total disappearance, begin to cause anorexia due to lack of food and may even stop producing urine.

The symptoms are not immediate, the first signs usually appear after two hours after the intake of the plant. If we do not notice them, the renal failure becomes acute after three days after intoxication. Therefore, it is essential go to the vet, since only medical treatment can save the life of our cat.

Toxic plants for cats that produce allergic dermatitis

In addition to the previous plants that cause dermatological disorders added to the gastrointestinal, there are others that mainly cause this type of problems in our cat. The most common are the following:

  • Water lily
  • Daisy flower
  • Nettle
  • Poto
  • Primula

Upon direct contact with any of these plants, the cat will develop skin irritation, rashes, redness, inflammation, itching, severe pain, stinging, blisters and even localized alopecia. If ingested, it can cause burning and gastrointestinal problems.

In mild cases by contact, we can treat the damage with anti-inflammatory ointments containing cortisone, always prescribed by veterinary experts, and cover the affected area with cold compresses to soothe itching. However, in the most serious cases it turns out it is essential to go to the veterinarian to give the feline intravenously the most appropriate antiallergic treatment.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Toxic plants for cats, we recommend you go to our Other health problems section.