Is Mistletoe Toxic to Cats?

Last Updated on March 19, 2021 by Julia Wilson

  • Name: American or European Mistletoe
  • Scientific names: Phoradendron flavescens, Phoradendron serotinum and Viscum album
  • Toxicity: Toxic to cats
  • Toxic compounds: Toxalbumin, pharatoxin viscumin (Lectins, Phoratoxins), alkaloid tyramine
  • Severity: Mild to moderate
  • Toxic parts: Berries are the most dangerous but all parts are toxic

Mistletoe is a group of hemiparasitic plants that live on trees with a worldwide distribution. It is popular at Christmas due to its association with kissing under the mistletoe.

Cat owners need to be aware of the dangers of bringing flowers and plants into homes with cats and the possible dangers.

Symptoms of mistletoe poisoning in cats

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)

Treatment

If ingestion was recent, gastric decontamination (removal of the toxin from the gastrointestinal tract by inducing vomiting or pumping the stomach).

Supportive and symptomatic care which may include fluids to prevent or treat dehydration and anti-nausea medication.

What other Christmas plants are toxic and non-toxic to cats?

  • Holly – Toxic
  • Poinsettia – Mildly toxic
  • Ivy – Toxic
  • Christmas trees – Fir and spruce; non-toxic, pine; toxic
  • Jerusalem cherry – Toxic
  • Amaryllis – Toxic
  • Lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis) – Highly toxic
  • Christmas cactus – Non-toxic

Prevention

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