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12 Toxic Plants That Cat Owners Should Not Keep in Their Home

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

Those flowers you have on the counter are pretty, but could they poison your cat?

Just like with human babies, we go to great lengths to safeguard our fur babies — which is why we're always hiding little dangers like rubber bands and cleaning supplies. But what you may not know is that it's totally possible you have poisonous items that can kill your cat hanging out in plain sight in the form of that lovely little plant you have chillin' on your coffee table.

There are over 700 varieties of plants that can be harmful to your cat if ingested. Most are exotic plants that pose little danger to your domesticated kitty, but some common household plants can be dangerous as well. Tina Wismer, veterinarian and medical director of the ASPCA’s poison control center, suggests if you suspect your cat has eaten any part of the plants listed below, whether or not it’s showing symptoms, call your vet immediately.

Those flowers you have on the counter are pretty, but could they poison your cat?

More: Should Cats Be Allowed Outside? Key Points From Both Sides of the Debate

1. Lilies (all varieties)

Just one bite of a leaf or the flower’s pollen could cause lethargy and vomiting within one hour of consumption. If left untreated, your cat could go into kidney failure. The pollen alone can be lethal to your feline friend.

2. Any calcium oxalate plants — including philodendrons, Chinese evergreens, Virginia creepers, spinach, agaves, tea leaves, rhubarb and taro

The poisonous part of these indoor and outdoor plants are the microscopic needle-like barbs on their stems and leaves. If bitten, they cause inflammation in the mouth and gums and result in excessive drooling and vomiting.

You can take care of the symptoms yourself by giving your cat calcium in the form of milk, yogurt, sour cream or ice cream. In rare cases, the swelling could inhibit breathing, so keep an eye on your pet for 48 hours.

3. Dracaena plants

There are about 40 varieties of this popular, leafy houseplant, including the dragon plant. If cats eat the long fronds typical of these plants, they’ll become depressed, lose their appetites and possibly even vomit blood. However, it’s usually not a fatal reaction, and symptoms tend to go away after 12 to 24 hours. Still, you should keep an eye out for worsening symptoms, and take your cat to the vet if it doesn't start to recover after 24 hours.

4. Autumn crocus

Eating any part of this flowery plant can cause an intense burning sensation in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver damage, kidney damage and even heart arrhythmias. Get your pet to the vet immediately if you suspect he/she has snacked on it.

5. Daffodils

If you have an outdoor cat, be very wary of its tendency to get into your or your neighbor’s daffodil beds. Ingestion of any portion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, arrhythmias, convulsions and a major drop in blood pressure. Call your vet ASAP.

6. Tulips

If you have them planted outside, or in a vase inside, they’re a big no-no for cats. While not fatal, taking a bite of them (especially the bulb) can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling and nausea.

Up next: Sago palm

Originally published June 2015. Updated April 2017.

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