Are Poinsettias Toxic to Cats?

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Poinsettia

Are poinsettias toxic to cats?

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a popular plant to display over the Christmas period.  These plants are labelled toxic to cats but not all toxic plants are created equal. Yes, poinsettias are toxic, however they only cause mild symptoms and do not pose a great danger to cats.

Toxic properties of poinsettia:

The ASPCA lists the toxic property of poinsettias as an irritant sap which can cause irritation to the skin, mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of poinsettia exposure may include:

How to keep cats safe: 

As ingestion of poinsettias only causes mild symptoms, there are no recommendations in regards to keeping cats safe other than to ensure the plant is kept out of reach of cats who are prone to nibble.

Grow cat-friendly plants in the home such as catnip and cat grass which will provide a safe alternative to your Christmas plants.

What Christmas plants are toxic to cats?

Holly

Christmas holly

  • Scientific name: Ilex opaca
  • Other names: English Holly, Oregon Holly, 
  • Level of toxicity: Moderate
  • Toxic compound: Saponins
  • Toxic parts: Berries
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Diarrhea, lethargy

Mistletoe

Mistletoe toxic to cats

  • Scientific name: Viscum album andPhoradendron serotinum
  • Other names: Common mistletoe, English mistletoe, American mistletoe
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic compound: Alkaloid tyramine and pharatoxin viscumin
  • Toxic parts: All parts, leaves and berries contain the highest concentration
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances and hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Symptoms: Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, low heart rate, wobbly gait (ataxia), low blood pressure, and low heart rate

Amaryllis

Amaryllis toxic to cats

  • Scientific name: Amaryllis spp. or Hippeastrum spp.
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: Belladonna lily, naked lady, resurrection lily, butterfly amaryllis, St Joseph lily
  • Toxic compound: Lycorine
  • Toxic parts: All parts, the bulb and leaves are the most toxic
  • Causes: Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and tremors

Lily

  • Scientific name: Lilium and Hemerocallis
  • Other names: Rubrum Lily, Tiger Lily, Asiatic Lily, Day Lily, Stargazer Lily and Easter Lily
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Toxic parts: All parts of the plant are toxic to cats
  • Causes: Acute kidney failure
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, loss of appetite, lethargy, depression, increased urination followed by decreased/absent urination.

See more on lily poisoning here.

 

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