Last Updated on November 28, 2021 by Julia Wilson
Is balsam fir toxic to cats?
Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) is non-toxic to cats and is safe to keep as a Christmas tree or an ornamental plant in the garden.
What is balsam fir?
- Genus: Abies – Firs
- Family: Pinaceae – Pine
- Order: Pinales – Pines and allies, Conifers, Coniferae, Pinophyta, Evergreens, Coniferophyta
- Class: Pinopsida – Conifers
- Botanical name: Abies balsamea
- Common names: Balsam fir, blister pine
- Toxicity: Non-toxic to cats
- Toxic parts: None
- Severity: –
- Toxic principle: –
First described in 1768, balsam fir is a North American evergreen fir native to northeastern America and eastern Canada. Mature trees can reach a height of 60 – 80 feet.
Balsam fir is often used as a Christmas tree due to its hardiness and ease of care, making it the perfect beginners tree.
- Pros: The balsam fir has a strong Christmas tree scent, symmetrical conical shape and doesn’t lose its needles.
- Cons: The flexible branches are not ideal for heavy ornaments.
- While Balsam fir is non-toxic, fertilisers and pest control can be potentially toxic to cats.
- Ingestion of large volumes of needles can potentially lead to a gastrointestinal obstruction but this is unlikely. If you do have a cat who is interested in eating the plant, consider moving it to another location the cat cannot access and bring in some cat-friendly plants such as catnip or cat grass.
- Secure the Christmas tree to a wall by attaching a wire or fishing line to prevent the tree from accidentally toppling over.
- Avoid tinsel in homes with cats as ingestion can cause gastrointestinal obstruction or telescoping of the intestines, which are both life-threatening.
- Place breakable ornaments high on the tree to prevent the cat from pulling them off and breaking them.
Toxicity of common Christmas plants
|Mild to moderate|
|Mistletoe||Phoradendron flavescens, Phoradendron|
serotinum and Viscum album
|Mild to moderate|
|Hippeastrum||Hippeastrum spp.||Mild to severe|
|Norway spruce||Picea abies||Non-toxic|
|Blue spruce||Picea pungens||Non-toxic|
|Serbian spruce||Picea omorika||Non-toxic|
|White spruce||Picea glauca||Non-toxic|
|Nordmann fir||Abies nordmanniana||Non-toxic|
|Fraser fir||Abies fraseri||Non-toxic|
|Douglas fir||Pseudotsuga menziesii||Non-toxic|
|Noble fir||Abies procera||Non-toxic|
|Balsam fir||Abies balsamea||Non-toxic|
|Grand fir||Abies grandis||Non-toxic|
Feature image, Eli Sagor, Flickr