It's no secret that many cats enjoy nibbling on houseplants. Under normal conditions it's fairly easy to keep toxic plants out of cat's reach, but during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is easy to accidentally expose your kitty cat to harmful plants. Learning which common holiday plants pose a risk and keeping your eyes open as guests arrive is the best way to safeguard your cat from accidental poisoning from holiday plants.
Holly and Mistletoe
According to the Human Society of the United States the berries of both holly and mistletoe are poisonous to cats. They can cause vomiting, stomach upset, drooling and diarrhea. Mistletoe symptoms tend to be the worse than holly and may be so severe they cause hallucinations and possibly death. Keep mistletoe and holly out of the reach of cats, or better yet, keep them out of the home as small berries can drop from the plants and roll into small crevices without you noticing. Inquisitive cats may try to play with the berries and accidentally poison themselves. Contact your vet, like one at Pet Medical Center – Full Service Veterinary Care, if you suspect your cat has consumed holly or mistletoe berries.
Paperwhite narcissus are commonly forced into blooming for the holidays. They may be presented in kits of bulbs in decorative containers for forcing or offered as holiday gifts in full bloom. All parts of the plants are poisonous to cats, with the bulbs presenting the most danger. Symptoms include gastrointestinal upset, arrhythmia or convulsions. A tiny nibble is enough to cause severe symptoms in cats. Keep them out of reach or in rooms where cats are not allowed.
Amaryllis produce beautiful, bold blooms in red, white and pink to brighten the holidays. Unfortunately, they also cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms in cats. If kitty nibbles on these plants, expect her to experience vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy and tremors. If you must show off this plant for the holidays, display it in a greenhouse or terrarium where kitty can't gain access.
Lovely lilies are also harmful to cats and can cause severe gastrointestinal effects. This includes both the Lilium and Hemerocallis genera, such as day lilies and Asian lilies. These striking flowers come in a variety of colors and are often added to holiday displays. If your guests arrive with holiday flowers in hand, check for lilies before displaying them within your cat's reach.
Christmas Trees & Wreaths
The oils in fir needles can also be irritating to cats. If kitty is a nibbler, she may may show signs of stomach upset or drooling. Eating the needles can cause an obstruction or puncture her intestines. The water in the tree's reservoir may also pose a risk to your cat's health, both from stray needles and from preservatives in the water. Cover the top of the water well with the tree skirt, and vacuum often if you have a real tree in your home. Likewise, clean up around evergreen wreaths and holiday greens to prevent your cat from consuming dropped needles.
What about Poinsettias?
Poinsettias often get a bad rap as dangerous holiday flowers. The truth is, according to Texas A&M University, the National Florist Association has tested poinsettias many times and determined that the plant is not poisonous to either humans or animals. The white juice released when the leaves are nibbled may cause mild mouth irritation, but they do not pose a threat to your cat's health.
Keeping dangerous plants out of your cat's reach during the holidays goes a long way toward keeping her healthy and happy, but don't overlook tempting lights, tinsel and other holiday dangers. Watch her carefully and don't be afraid to call the vet if you notice unusual behaviors.