When it comes to human babies, we go to great lengths to safeguard our homes, making it completely baby-proof. And we should be doing the same with our fur babies. While we cat owners do our best to hide little dangers like rubber bands and cleaning supplies, what you may not realize could be hazardous to your cat's health are the various plants you have lying around the home.
It's true: There are over 700 varieties of plants that can be harmful to your cat if ingested, including common household plants. According to Tina Wismer, veterinarian and medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, there are 12 common plants and flowers that are particularly poisonous to your cat. Wismer 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.
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.
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.
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.
Next: Sago palm
A version of this article was originally published in June 2015.