Is Amaryllis Toxic to Cats?

Last Updated on January 4, 2021 by Julia Wilson

Amaryllis is a beautiful and flowering perennial native to South Africa. Its large, showy trumpet-shaped flowers make a popular display in homes, especially around Christmas. The plant blooms from late December to early June and can be found in several red to pink colours, often on a striped white background.

  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Scientific name: Amaryllis
  • Other names: Hippeastrum, Belladonna lily, naked lady, resurrection lily, butterfly amaryllis, St Joseph lily
  • Toxic compounds: Calcium oxalate crystals and phenanthridine alkaloids (Lycorine, haemanthamine, amaryllidine, tazzetine, hippeastrine, pancracine and vittatine)

Level of toxicity

  • Mild to moderate
All parts of the plant are toxic, bulbs have the highest concentration of calcium oxalate crystals, the leaves, stem, and bulbs contain phenanthridine alkaloids.


Symptoms will vary depending on the route of exposure (skin or ingestion), the amount ingested and which parts of the plant have been consumed.
Symptoms of amaryllis toxicity in cats

Calcium oxalate crystals

These needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals are located in the tissues as a defence mechanism against herbivores (plant-eating animals).
  • Oral pain, drooling, gum swelling
  • Skin irritation if exposed to the sap
  • Abdominal pain

Phenanthridine alkaloids

Lycorine is the primary alkaloid responsible for gastrointestinal signs which include:

Other alkaloids are present in smaller amounts, and can cause:

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory depression
  • Tremors

What should I do if my cat has been exposed?

Contact your veterinarian or your local poisons helpline for advice.


The treatment of choice for most types of poisoning is gastrointestinal decontamination (induce vomiting) if the exposure was recent.

  • Activated charcoal to bind to the remaining toxins in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Fluids to maintain hydration until the cat recovers
  • Nutritional support


Keep plants and flowers which are toxic to cats out of the home, especially if your cat is prone to nibbling plants.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia