Are Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) Toxic to Cats?

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  • Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) is toxic to cats, however, the toxic principle is unknown. Exposure to carnation can cause mild gastrointestinal signs as well as contact dermatitis.

    What is carnation?

    Is carnation toxic to cats?

    Family Caryophyllaceae
    Botanical name Dianthus caryophyllus
    Common names Carnation, clove pink
    Plant type Herb
    Flower colour Pink, white, purple
    Native to Southern Europe and India
    Toxic property Unknown
    Toxic parts All parts
    Severity Mild


    Carnation is a herbaceous perennial native to Southern Europe and India that is widely cultivated for its highly scented fringe-petalled flowers which make excellent long-lasting cut flowers. The botanical name Dianthus means ‘divine flower’ and was named by Greek botanist Theophrastus. Dios means divine and anthous means flower.

    The toxic principle is unknown, the University of California classifies the toxicity class of carnation as 2 and 4.

    2) Minor Toxicity: Ingestion of these plants may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhea. If ingested, call the Poison Control Center or your doctor.

    4) Dermatitis: The juice, sap, or thorns of these plants may cause a skin rash or irritation. Wash the affected area of skin with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. The rashes may be very serious and painful. Call the Poison Control Center or your doctor if symptoms appear following contact with the plants.

    Clinical signs

    Symptoms are generally mild and self-limiting and relate to gastrointestinal disturbances and mild dermatitis.

    First aid

    Remove any plant matter from the mouth if it is safe to do so and offer the cat something to drink. Symptoms of carnation exposure are generally mild and self-limiting, but if symptoms of toxicity occur, contact your veterinarian.


    There is no antidote to carnation poisoning, and the goal of treatment is to prevent further toxicity and manage clinical signs. This may include inducing vomiting to remove any remaining plant matter from the gastrointestinal tract, followed by the administration of fluids to prevent or manage dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.


    The prognosis for carnation ingestion is excellent.

    Is it safe to keep carnations in a home with cats?

    Carnation is mildly toxic to cats and is generally safe to keep in homes with cats. However, if your cat does show an interest in chewing carnation, it is safer to remove it.

    Some cats, especially kittens are more curious and may show an interest in chewing plants. If this is the case, provide cat-safe options such as catnip and cat grass, to avoid any risk of toxicity. There are also a number of flowers that are non-toxic to cats.


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She 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. Full author bio