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    Many common houseplants are toxic to both cats and dogs. These include asparagus ferns, calla lilies, dieffenbachia, cyclamen, tiger lilies, and poinsettias (a winter holiday favorite). See the sidebar "Safe Plants and Toxic Plants" to get an idea of what plants you should get rid of before you bring your new cat home and what not to introduce, as well as which plants are OK to have in your home permanently.

    You will also have to be very careful about silk and plastic plants because they could cause a cat to choke if chewed. To keep pets away from nontoxic plants, sprinkle pepper at the base, on the exposed soil. This will deter any further feline inquisitiveness. Cover the soil surface of potted plants with decorative stones to prevent them from being used as a feline toilet.

    Safe Plants and Toxic Plants

    Many cat lovers are unaware that lots of very common and popular decorative houseplants are cat-safe for cats to nibble on. These include orchids, African violets, bamboo palms, and various ferns, along with lots of common garden flowers like zinnias and alyssum and herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, and chickweed.Nevertheless, there is also a long list of both indoor and garden plants that are highly toxic to pets. When you are catproofing your home, make a careful note of the following, which are listed as the ten most poisonous plants by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)'s Poison Control Unit and be sure to remove them if they are within reach of your cat (both inside and outside).


    All lilies are very popular indoor plants, especially around Easter time. As beautiful as they are, they are highly toxic to cats and can cause severe kidney damage.

    Sago palm:

    These plants can potentially produce vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures, and liver failure. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the seeds or "nuts" contain the largest amount of toxins.


    The bulb portions of these plants contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, central nervous system depression, convulsions, and cardiac abnormalities.

    Azalea and rhododendron:

    These plants contain substances known as grayanotoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness, and central nervous system depression in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from collapse of the cardiovascular system.


    This plant contains cyclamine; the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the tuber (root) portion of the plant. If consumed, it can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.


    Ingesting this plant in any form can result in central nervous system depression, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, vocalization, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures or coma.


    All parts of the oleander plant are considered to be toxic because they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects, including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, a significant drop in body temperature (hypothermia), and even death.

    Castor bean:

    The poisonous component in this plant is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma, and death can occur.


    This plant can cause gastrointestinal irritation and also seriously affect cardiac rhythm and heart rate.


    This plant contains taxine, which affects the central nervous system and causes trembling, lack of coordination, and breathing difficulties, as well as significant gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in death.

    The toxins in poisonous plants have varied effects on cats ranging from a skin rash to vomiting and diarrhea to serious convulsions, damage to the nervous system, kidney and liver failure, and death.

    If your cat nibbles on the wrong thing, she is going to need urgent medical attention. Rush her to your veterinarian or nearest pet emergency room and take a sample of the plant with you. This will help the veterinarian with diagnosis and treatment.Lists of both safe and toxic plants can be found on the ASPCA's website (, the Cat Fanciers Association's website (, and

    From The Cat Bible, Copyright by Sandy Robins, licensed through ContentOro, Inc and used by arrangement with I-5 Press

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