The number of poisonous plants in the vicinity around your home may actually surprise you. When ingested, their symptoms can run from the mildly serious to the very serious. While people can educate themselves about the plants in their area, our pets are obviously another matter. There's no making little Millie or Barneykins understand they shouldn't be chewing on the dieffenbachia or to leave the castor bean alone. Cats can be even harder than dogs to keep from harmful plants due to the animals' freedom to roam. Do you know which plants are harmful? With summer just around the corner, here’s a list of 10 outdoor plants poisonous to cats that might be growing in or around your yard.
Azaleas create a beautiful show of flowers in the spring that will brighten your home’s exterior and have your friends and neighbors showering you with compliments. But the ingestion of even a few leaves from this Southern garden staple can cause mouth irritation along with vomiting and diarrhea in cats. In more serious cases the plant can be responsible for a marked drop in blood pressure, coma and sometimes lead to death.
The common succulent known throughout the centuries as a medicinal go-to source for all sorts of applications including burns has a surprising secret: it contains aloin, a substance known to be toxic to cats. The bitter yellow substance is part and parcel of most aloe species and can cause vomiting and/or turn urine reddish in color. If you’re planning on growing it, be aware of its dangers to felines.
With one of the most beautiful flowers known to man, it’s not really surprising that it’s so closely associated with death and funerals when you realize how toxic certain species can be. The list of lilies to keep your cat away from include the tiger, Easter, day, Asiatic and Japanese varieties. Due to their high toxicity levels to cats, just one bite of a leaf or taste of its pollen from a plant in this family can cause lethargy and vomiting within 12 hours of ingestion. Scarier yet? If not treated, your cat could go into kidney failure.
Another beautiful bloomer that’s considered toxic to felines, it is actually the bulb that you have to worry about the most. When storing them, keep them out of range from your curious kitty. Having said that, ingestion of any portion of a daffodil can still cause things like vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain and tenderness, heart arrhythmias, convulsions, a serious drop in blood pressure and even death.
A common and popular plant in warmer climates used for privacy, adding a splash of color and its ease of care, the leaves and branches are well known for being extremely poisonous to humans and animals. Ingestion of this toxic plant results in severe digestive upsets, negative affects to the heart, and has been known to lead to death. Keep dogs, cats and small children away from it if it’s on your property.
This plant is a member of the potato family also called the deadly nightshade family. There are several species of it going by many different names, however all of them are considered deadly. They include jimson weed, moon flower, southwestern thorn apple and sacred datura, among others. The latter is also known as belladonna and devil’s trumpet. All of its tissues contain chemical compounds known as alkaloids, which make the plant poisonous. Symptoms can include intense thirst, distorted or blurred vision, loss of coordination, high temperature, rapid and/or weakened heart beat, convulsions, coma and death.
7. Corn Plant
Another plant with many names, the corn plant goes by cornstalk plant, dracaena, dragon tree and ribbon plant. It contains saponin, a substance that is known to be toxic to cats. If the plant is chewed or eaten vomiting with or without blood may occur along with loss of appetite, depression and increased salivation. Often times cats affected by it can also have dilated pupils.
8. Autumn Crocus
A pretty little flower unassuming in appearance, the autumn crocus is capable of causing an intense burning sensation in the mouth as well as vomiting, diarrhea, nervous excitement, seizures, liver and kidney damage, or even heart arrhythmias. Although the entire plant is viewed as potentially toxic to cats, like daffodils, the toxicity is considered highest in the bulbs.
One of the deadlier poisonous plants is the yew. While many people believe it is merely the berries we have to be concerned with, it’s actually the foliage that’s more poisonous. Ingestion of this plant can be fatal and death is usually sudden without warning signs. Keep pets and children away from this attractive nuisance.
10. Sago Palm
Also known as a coontie palm or a cardboard palm, the sago is said to be an extremely poisonous plant to cats. While it’s hard to imagine a cat wanting to chew on a sago due to its tough, feathery foliage with sharp, scratchy edges, when ingested it can lead to bloody vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding disorders, liver failure and possibly death.
SheKnows has a really pretty infographics that highlights some of the top plants poisonous to plants.
Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension
These are just 10 outdoor plants poisonous to cats. There are many others. Even house cats can come into contact with poisonous plants if you’re not aware of their deadly attributes. For a more comprehensive list of plants with poisonous or toxic qualities check out Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension. In the meantime, if you think your pet may have ingested any of these plants, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Pet Poison Helpline
Your vet and the Pet Poison Helpline will both tell you DO NOT wait to see if symptoms appear. Because in some cases by the time they do it is too late to save the animal or the damage is so severe that their quality of life is compromised — not to mention costing you more money than if you'd just brought them in earlier. So, do you and your pet a favor and don't wait to call.