10 Flowers That Are Poisonous to Cats | Great Pet Care (2023)

There’s no denying the beauty of freshly-cut tulips or a garden bed of lilies, but flowers like these can make cats sick or even be fatal. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports that both indoor and outdoor plants are among the top 10 toxins pets most frequently ingest.

We see regular cases of exposure and intoxication with indoor and outdoor cats,” says Dr. Kevin Kelley, an emergency veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Clearwater, Florida.

This doesn’t mean you need to completely give up flowers. Knowing which flowers are poisonous to cats and taking steps to prevent access to them can go a long way to keeping your cat safe.

Flower Toxicity in Cats

Plants produce toxins as a survival mechanism, says Dr. Karyn Bischoff, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center in Ithaca, New York. “Plants can’t run away, so they have to come up with other ways to prevent getting eaten by insects and animals.”

Because cats don’t have hands that can manipulate objects like we do, “they default to using their mouths, which gives some toxins immediate access to their body,” adds Kelley.

Why Do Cats Like Flowers So Much?

If you live with cats, you know how curious they can be, especially when they’re younger. Some cats are attracted to flowers for their taste or texture. “Cats might go for certain plants because they enjoy the mouth feel,” says Dr. Cathy Lund, a veterinarian with City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cats also have an excellent sense of smell, with about 14 to 20 times the smell receptors that people do, says Kelley. “They are likely to know about a change in their environment and often investigate it, which is when they are exposed,” he says. “Each [cat] is different and some aggressively seek out certain smells when available, while others seem not to care or respond.”

Symptoms of Flower Poisoning in Cats

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Depending on the type of flower and amount ingested, symptoms can vary from mild to fatal, says Kelley.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Mouth irritation
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

“Other plants can damage the liver or kidneys, sometimes irreversibly, or cause cardiac arrhythmias or neurologic side effects, including seizures and even death,” adds Kelley.

(Video) 10 TOXIC PLANTS for CATS 🐱 ❌ 🌷 In the Home & Garden

Signs of flower poisoning in cats are not always immediately obvious, either. “Their effects are seen with organ damage, manifesting days later, when treatment can be far less effective and damage is permanent.”

A List of Flowers Poisonous to Cats

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Veterinarians recommend preventing cats’ access to the following flowers. Keep in mind that any contact with these and other toxic flowers for cats can be dangerous.

“Chewing on some plants is enough to cause toxicity, and ingestion is not always necessary to become poisoned,” says Kelley.

Flowers that are toxic to cats include:

  • True lilies and daylilies
  • Daffodils
  • Hyacinths
  • Kalanchoe
  • Azalea
  • Hydrangeas
  • Tulips
  • Oleander
  • Lily of the valley
  • Chrysanthemums

Flowers That Are Safe For Cats

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Keep in mind that even non-poisonous flowers for cats can cause some gastric upset. And some can present other challenges, like a rose with its prickly stem.

But, generally, the following flowers are considered safe for cats:

  • Lilacs
  • Roses
  • Sunflowers
  • Petunias
  • Camellias
  • Snapdragons
  • Daisies

*These lists are not all-inclusive, so if you’re unsure about any plant, it’s safest to check with a professional.

Flowers and Cats: A Closer Look at Common Varieties

When reviewing any list of non-poisonous or poisonous plants for cats, keep in mind that some names can be misleading.

For example, while the common lilac plant (Syringa vulgaris) is not considered poisonous to cats, the Persian lilac of the Melia genus is. “This plant is very toxic. It can cause more severe gastrointestinal distress, and also muscle weakness, tremors, and seizures if ingested,” says Bischoff.

(Video) Plants That Are Toxic to Cats!!

If in doubt about any plant, it pays to run it past your veterinarian, a garden expert, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).

Are Lilacs Poisonous to Cats?

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One of spring’s most aromatic flowers, the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is a violet-colored shrub that can also come in shades of lavender, burgundy, white, yellow, and blue.

Lilacs have a slightly bitter taste, which may deter cats from eating them. Even if cats do make contact with lilacs, they shouldn’t become seriously ill, says Bischoff, who frequently cuts lilacs in the spring and places them around her own home.

I think in a worst-case scenario, a cat might get an upset stomach and maybe vomit or have some diarrhea,” she says.

As mentioned above, while the common lilac is not poisonous, the Persian lilac is, so pet owners should know the difference between the two varieties before planting or plucking.

Are Orchids Poisonous to Cats?

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Orchids are part of the highly-diverse Orchidaceae family, a group of fragrant, flowering plants that most often present in various shades of pink. But they also come in other colors, including yellow, red, and green. Most orchids are considered safe for cats.

In a worst-case scenario, a cat who ingests orchids might experience mild vomiting and diarrhea, says Bischoff. With more than 25,000 species of orchids however, it’s best to check with a professional.

Are Roses Poisonous to Cats?

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The common prickly-stemmed rose (of the Rosa genus) is a perennial shrub that typically yields flowers in red, pink, and yellow.

(Video) 10 Non-toxic House Plants That Are Safe for Cats - Pet Safe Plants

Experts say roses have not been associated with poisoning in cats. “The worst I would expect would be some mild vomiting and diarrhea,” says Bischoff.

One caveat, however, is the thorny stem of roses, which can cause pain or discomfort to an unsuspecting cat.

Are Tulips Poisonous to Cats?

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One of early spring’s typical flowers, tulips actually belong to the lily family (Liliaceae). They contain Tulipalin A and B, chemical compounds that Kelley says are poisonous to cats.

“They are in highest concentration in the bulbs, but the plant if ingested, can cause vomiting, hyper-salivation, diarrhea, and depression,” he adds.

Are Lilies Poisonous to Cats?

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According to Pet Poison Helpline, lilies (of the Lilium genus) are one of the top ten cat poisons.

“True lilies (Lilium) and daylilies (Hemerocalis) are so incredibly toxic to cats that they aren’t ever allowed in my house,” says Bischoff. “The prognosis for a cat with lily poisoning is poor to grave.”

All parts of the plant, including the pollen, should be avoided as they can cause kidney failure in cats.

Early symptoms of lily poisoning include excessive salivation or drooling, vomiting, and lethargy, which can range from mild to noticeable, says Kelley.

“Any exposure is considered a severe emergency, and decontamination and detoxification with supportive care is key to long term survival and minimizing damage,” he says.

(Video) 25 Plants Toxic to Cats you Need to Know!

Are Mums Poisonous to Cats?

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Mums are some of autumn’s most widely-grown flowers, presenting in deep orange, burgundy, purple, and yellow. “They contain multiple toxic compounds that can cause vomiting, hyper-salivation, diarrhea, incoordination, and even skin inflammation from contact with some varieties,” explains Kelley.

Ironically, pyrethrin flea sprays were once made from chrysanthemum flowers, says Bischoff. “Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide that can cause some skin irritation, increased salivation, nausea, and vomiting in cats, both because of the effects on nerves and because they have a very bitter flavor.

Are Sunflowers Poisonous to Cats?

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These yellow-petaled flowers with a brown interior disc are cheerful and yield edible seeds.

Sunflowers are also generally considered non-toxic for cats, but veterinarians say they may cause minor stomach upset or vomiting if ingested.

Are Hydrangeas Poisonous to Cats?

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Hydrangeas are woody plants that yield rounded clusters of flowers in colors like white, lavender, and blue. Although they look pretty, they can be poisonous to cats.

Some of the compounds in hydrangeas can theoretically break down to cyanide gas in the stomach, “I would definitely advise against letting your cat eat these,” says Bischoff. “I would expect hydrangeas to cause a more severe gastric and intestinal irritation, possibly bloody diarrhea.”

Protecting Cats From Flower Poisoning

Always research the flower you’re planning to purchase, whether it’s an indoor or outdoor plant, recommends Dr. Tina Wismer, senior director at ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center and a board-certified veterinary toxicologist. “It is best to familiarize yourself with the list of toxic plants and keep these types of plants out of your home or garden for the health and safety of your pet.”

If you do keep a toxic plant, keep it out of kitty’s reach. “Typically, this includes making a physical barrier,” adds Wismer. “With some plants, a single exposure could be life threatening.”

(Video) 20 Pet Safe Houseplants and 8 of the Most Toxic Plants

Cats love to dig through potting soil, says Lund, so pet parents can take steps to make potted plants and flowers unappealing to cats. “If you have larger houseplants, sometimes putting rocks or other deterrents on top of the soil can limit cat access and prevent your plants from becoming another litter box.”

Even if you’re careful about what you plant outside on your own property, you can’t control what your neighbors grow. If your kitty spends any time outdoors, keep him away from any flowers that are toxic to cats.

If you suspect your cat has been exposed to a toxic plant (or are in doubt), contact your veterinarian, ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435), or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661).


What flower is poisonous to cats? ›

Toxic Plants for Cats
Flowering Plants:
AmaryllisHyacinthAsian Lily*
Climbing Lily*Lily of the Valley*Cyclamen
DaffodilPoinsettiaDay Lily*
Rubrum Lily*Easter Lily*Stargazer Lily*
15 more rows

What flowers and leaves are poisonous to cats? ›

  • Oleander.
  • Peace Lily.
  • Pothos, Devil's Ivy.
  • Sago Palm.
  • Spanish Thyme.
  • Tulip.
  • Yew.
9 Mar 2020

What flowers can you have near cats? ›

Flowers That Are Safe for Cats
  • Alstroemeria.
  • Asters.
  • Freesia.
  • Gerber Daisies.
  • Liatris.
  • Lisianthus.
  • Orchid.
  • Roses.
19 Mar 2020

Which plants are most toxic to cats? ›

Common poisonous plants for cats
  • Tulip and Hyacinth. ...
  • Philodendrons. ...
  • Nerium Oleander. ...
  • Dieffenbachia. ...
  • Cyclamen. ...
  • Kalanchoe. ...
  • Daffodils. ...
  • Rhododendron and Azalea. The stem, leaves, and flowers of rhododendrons and azaleas are all highly toxic, and eating as few as three leaves may be a large enough dosage to extremely affect a cat.
13 Oct 2022

Is Rose safe for cats? ›

Are Roses Poisonous to Cats If They Eat Them? "Roses are not considered to be a concern for poisoning," says Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, and Senior Veterinarian Toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline. "However, gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea) may occur if ingested."

Is Lavender poisonous to cats? ›

Lavender is mildly toxic to cats, which means it's not typically fatal. “The toxic compounds found in the pretty purple-flowered plant are called linalool and linalyl acetate, which cats' livers are unable to process,” Dr. Conrad told The Dodo.

Do cats know not to eat poisonous plants? ›

Generally, cats will stay away from plants that will harm them, but sometimes curiosity and boredom get the better of them and they might nibble on your plants. Consumption of poisonous plants can cause a range of symptoms from vomiting to serious illness and even death in some cases.

Is Jasmine poisonous to cats? ›

True jasmine is not toxic to cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Its animal poison control website lists all species in the genus Jasminum as nontoxic for cats, dogs and horse too.

What are cats allergic to? ›

There are four common types of allergies in the cat: insect (fleas), food allergy, inhalant (house dust, pollen, and molds), and contact. Each of these has some common physical expressions and signs in cats, and each has some unique features.

Are Daisy poisonous to cats? ›

Lauren Cline, DVM, of Queen City Animal Hospital in Charlotte, N.C., says one or two blossoms probably won't be a big deal because daisies aren't as toxic to cats as some other flowers. But "these flowers can still trigger gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting, diarrhea, and hypersalivation," she adds.

Are hibiscus poisonous to cats? ›


No one knows the reason why some types of hibiscus are toxic while others remain non-toxic to canines. For cats both blossoms and stems of this hibiscus are poisonous.

Are cut flowers poisonous to cats? ›

Unfortunately, some of the flowers used in arrangements are toxic to dogs and cats. The ASPCA Poison Control hotline receives calls every year from pet owners seeking help with accidental poisonings and some of those calls end up needing medical attention from a local urgent care vet or emergency vet.

Is aloe vera poisonous to cats? ›

Aloe vera is a common household plant, not because of its attraction but because of its health benefits. Aloe juice and pulp can be used to treat a variety of conditions in people, but it is highly toxic to cats.

Why are cats attracted to roses? ›

Their sweet scent may attract cats over for a taste. Most often find out quickly that the flower is not that yummy, however, a few end up with a penchant for eating the roses. The good news is that roses by themselves are not toxic to cats, says Dr. Maureen K.

How do you keep cats away from toxic plants? ›

Make Your Plants Unappealing

Cats have a strong distaste for anything citrus. Using either juice of a lemon, lime, or orange diluted with some water can be sprayed on the leaves of your plant to ward off any feline invasion. If you don't feel like creating your own mixture, Bodhi Dog makes a Bitter Lemon Spray.

How do you keep cats away from your plants? ›

Sprinkle cayenne pepper around the leaves of houseplants and your cat will back away pretty quickly. Cats also hate the smell of citrus. Put orange and lemon peels in your pots along with the plants to help deter them. Another option is spraying the leaves directly with diluted lemon juice or orange oil.

Are marigolds poisonous to cats? ›

If your cat eats marigold leaves or stems, it may suffer from mild mouth irritation, possible drooling, tummy pain, and diarrhea. Contact from the plant's sap may also cause skin irritation.

What are the symptoms of plant poisoning in cats? ›

If your cat has eaten a toxic plant it may show:
  • Irritation of the skin, gums or eyes.
  • Twitching.
  • Salivation/drooling.
  • Confusion/incoordination.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fits/seizures.


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