Poisonous Plants

Mar 29, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice


When I think about poisonous plants and cats, I immediately think about Rocky, and how he survived lily poisoning.   His owner, Susan had come home from work and found him happily lounging on the rug next to a lily he had taken from a bouquet. He had never bothered flowers before, so Susan had thought the lilies would be safe.  Lucky for Rocky, Susan knew that this exposure could be toxic and that early intervention was critical.  Rocky was hospitalized and after several days of aggressive intravenous fluids and supportive care, Rocky went home to a safe, lily-free home, with mild, but manageable kidney damage. What a lucky guy!

Lilies are perhaps the most common and the most poisonous plant your cat may encounter.  All parts of the lily are poisonous, including the yellow-brown pollen that so easily gets on your clothing (or your cat if he brushes up against the flowers).  Treatment is successful only if started early.

While cats tend to be more cautious than dogs in regards to what they eat, they often surprise us by eating unusual things.   It is important to be aware of what dangers may lay in and around your house and how you can best keep your cat safe. Remember that since most cats are good groomers, they swallow particles from most things they touch.  In other words, whatever they touch, they swallow.  In addition, if your cat chews or eats part of a plant, they will also be swallowing any fertilizer and/or pesticides that were applied to the plant. Know that even if your cat looks fine, exposure to certain plants or other toxins requires early intervention for successful treatment. While many plants (such as Aloe) will usually cause obvious symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and lethargy) fairly quickly, for some toxins, by the time a cat shows symptoms of being sick, treatment may come too late.

Other common plants that are poisonous to cats when eaten include:  Marijuana, Sago Palm (including the seeds and nuts), Tulip Bulbs, Azalea, Oleander, Castor Bean, Cyclamen (especially the root) and Yew.

When looking to cat-proof your house (and yard), consult an expert source for information on poisonous plants. The ASPCA’s website has a very complete list at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control.  You can also reach the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24 hours a day at 888-426-4435 (there is a fee for the consultation).  Please call your vet immediately if you think that your cat may have been exposed to a poisonous plant.

Dr Diana Lafer

Dr. Diana Lafer founded Cats Limited in 1995. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Wesleyan University and her veterinary degree from Cornell University. Dr. Lafer has a cat (Sparky), and a dog (Lucy). She enjoys spending time with her daughters, horseback riding, skiing, hiking, participating in triathlons, and volunteering for the Lakeville Pony Club.

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