Christmas Plants and Cats – Safe and Toxic Christmas Plants List

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At a glance:

  • Holly – toxic
  • Mistletoe – toxic
  • Poinsettia – toxic
  • Amaryllis – toxic
  • Lily – toxic
  • Ivy – toxic
  • Christmas cactus – non toxic
  • Rosemary – non toxic
  • Christmas trees – Spruce and fir, non toxic, pine, toxic

 

Christmas plants toxic and non-toxic to cats

Christmas is a few days away and many of us have our homes decorated with trees, wreaths and Christmas plants. We take a look at which Christmas plants are safe and which plants are toxic to cats.

Mistletoe

Is mistletoe toxic to cats?

  • Toxic or non toxic: Toxic
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Name: American or European Mistletoe
  • Scientific names: Phoradendron flavescens, Phoradendron serotinum and Viscum album
  • Toxic compounds: Toxalbumin, pharatoxin viscumin (Lectins, Phoratoxins), alkaloid tyramine
  • Symptoms: Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, slow heart rate (dradycardia)

Holly

Is holly toxic to cats?

  • Toxic or non toxic: Toxic
  • Level of toxicity: Mild to moderate
  • Other names: English Holly, European Holly, Oregon Holly, Inkberry and Winterberry
  • Scientific names: Ilex opaca and Ilex aquifolium
  • Toxic compounds: Saponin glycocides, methylxanthines, and cyanogens (the latter two do not appear to cause significant toxicity in cats
  • Symptoms: Vomiting (possibly with blood), drooling, diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, sedation

Ivy

Ivy toxicity in cats

  • Toxic or non toxic: Toxic
  • Level of toxicity: Moderate
  • Other names: Branching ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, California Ivy
  • Scientific names: Hedera helix
  • Toxic compounds: Triterpenoid saponins (hederagenin) and polyacetylene compounds
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, abdominal pain

Poinsettia

Poinsettia

  • Toxic or non toxic: Toxic
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Other names: Christmas Flower, Easter Flower, Étoile de Noël, Lobster Flower Plant, Lobsterplant, Mexican Flame Leaf, Noche Buena, Paintedleaf, Papagallo, Pastora
  • Scientific names: Euphorbia pulcherrima
  • Toxic compounds: Irritant sap
  • Symptoms: Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, skin and eye irritation if exposed to sap

Amaryllis

Amaryllis toxic to cats

  • Toxic or non toxic: Toxic
  • Level of toxicity: Mild
  • Other names: Belladonna lily, naked lady, resurrection lily, butterfly amaryllis, St Joseph lily
  • Scientific name: Amaryllis spp. or Hippeastrum spp.
  • Toxic compound: Lycorine
  • Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and tremors

Lily

Stargazer lily toxic to cats

  • Toxic or non toxic: Toxic
  • Level of toxicity: Extreme
  • Other names: Easter lily, Stargazer lily, Tiger lily, Rubrum lily, Japanese lily, Day lily, Asiatic lily,
  • Scientific name: Lilium and Hemerocallis
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Symptoms: Early symptoms include vomiting, drooling, depression, loss of appetite, increased urination. Late symptoms include abdominal pain, bad breath, absent urination, increased or decreased thirst, weakness, seizures

This is not one to mess around with, if your cat ingests any part of the lily, no matter how small, immediate veterinary care is vital.

Rosemary

Rosemary non-toxic to cats

  • Toxic or non toxic: Non toxic
  • Level of toxicity:
  • Other names:  –
  • Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Toxic compound: Unknown
  • Symptoms: –

Christmas cactus

Christmas cactus non-toxic to cats

  • Toxic or non toxic: Non toxic
  • Level of toxicity:
  • Other names:  Forest cactus
  • Scientific name: Schlumbergera bridgesii
  • Toxic compound: –
  • Symptoms: –

What should you do if your cat ingests a poisonous Christmas plant? 

Contact your veterinarian or pet poison helpline immediately. Do not induce vomiting unless you are instructed to do so. This is far safer in a veterinary environment and can cause more harm than good.

Some plants are more toxic than others. Lilies top the list of toxic plants, and without treatment, the cat will die from acute kidney failure. I won’t have these flowers in my house, at all.

Other plants pose less of a risk, but can still make a cat unwell. This is why it is so important to obtain medical advice.

If you, or your veterinarian are unsure what the plant was, bring along a sample for identification.