Which plants are toxic to cats?

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Millions of cats go into gardens safely with poisonous plants, but it's worth being aware of what's safe for your cats to eat, and which plants are toxic to cats.

When cats have a limited choice of plants to chew, this can lead to disaster as they may eat a poisonous plant.

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they must eat meat to survive and they will seldom choose to eat vegetables if offered them, but they do go outside and chew grass and perhaps other herbs. This may be a way of dealing with parasites, aiding digestion or enabling them to eliminate hair balls. If there is nothing available which would seem an obvious choice, such as grass, they may feel the need to try houseplants or cut flowers.

This is where they seem to lose their sense of self-preservation and chew things like members of the lily family, which are very poisonous to cats. Young kittens too may like to sample things, just like small children, and this can lead to all sorts of trouble. 

Remove all potentially hazardous household plants to prevent unnecessary exposure. This is especially important for kittens and for cats kept indoors.

Outdoors the story is not so simple. Free-roaming cats have access to many gardens so it will be impossible to prevent all possible contact with potentially harmful plants. You can, however, remove the most toxic plants from your garden, and make a note of any in your neighbours’ gardens that are potentially dangerous.

The fact that the list contains some very common plants should not be cause for concern. Most of these potentially harmful plants taste bad and are unlikely to be eaten in sufficient quantities to cause permanent damage. Woody garden plants are also unlikely to be eaten by your cat – tender household plants pose most risk.

There are only a few very poisonous plants that you should avoid, including lilies, being the main one.

Read more about which lilies are toxic to cats here.

Plants that are toxic to cats

Many plants are toxic to cats and some, like lilies, may even be fatal. This list is part of a more comprehensive list put together by International Cat Care:

  • Aconitium
  • Arum
  • Azalea
  • Alstroemeria
  • Brugmansia
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Colchicum
  • Crocus
  • Daffodil
  • Daphne
  • Digitalis
  • Euphorbia
  • Ferns
  • Foxglove
  • Galanthus
  • Holly
  • Ivy
  • Laburnum Larkspur
  • Lilium
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Mistletoe
  • Morning Glory
  • Narcissus Nerium
  • Oleander Nicotania
  • Papaver
  • Physalis
  • Phytolacca
  • Poinsettia
  • Ricinus
  • Rue
  • Solanum
  • Taxus
  • Tomato
  • Tulipa
  • Yew