Is Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) Toxic to Cats?

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  • Is Nordmann fir toxic to cats?

    Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana) is non-toxic to cats and is safe to keep as a Christmas tree in homes with pets as long as precautions are taken.

    What is Nordmann fir?

    • Genus: Firs (Abies)
    • Family: Pinaceae
    • Botanical name: Abies nordmanniana
    • Common names: Nordmann’s fir, Trojan fir, Kazdadi fir, Turkish fir, Nordman’s silver fir
    • Popular cultivars: ‘Golden spreader’
    • Mature height: 12-18 metres metres
    • Needle retention: Excellent
    • Scent:  Mild citrus scent
    • Toxicity: Non-toxic to cats
    • Toxic parts: None
    • Severity:
    • Toxic principle:

    One of the most popular Christmas trees in Europe, Nordmann fir is a coniferous evergreen native to the Caucasus Mountains which span Europe and Asia. Its soft wood is used in construction and paper making.

    The Nordmann fir has thick, soft, glossy needles, which makes it an ideal Christmas tree for homes with pets and children. Its strong branches make it ideal to hang heavy Christmas ornaments from. The needles have a waxy coating which can help to reduce allergies.

    Nordmann fir is named after Finnish biologist, Alexander von Nordmann who discovered it in the Caucasus in 1838.

    Care

    Nordmann fir likes to grow in rich, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Fertilise once in spring, and keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged.

    • If your Nordmann fir is purchased as a cut tree, cut the bottom 2.5 cm (1  inch)
    • Christmas trees can drink as much as 1-2 litres of water a day, especially in a heated room. The trunk should always sit in water, which should be topped up daily.
    • Keep the Christmas tree away from direct heat to prolong its longevity.
    • With proper care, Christmas trees should last approximately 4 weeks.

    Safety

    Despite their non-toxic status, Christmas trees can still pose a risk to cats and dogs in the home.

    • Don’t buy your Norway spruce too early in the festive season as once they have been cut down, they quickly lose their needles. 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.
    • Do not add aspirin to Christmas tree water as cats are unable to metabolise aspirin effectively, which can lead to a fatal overdose in as little as a single tablet.
    • Always secure the Christmas tree to a wall by attaching a wire or fishing line to prevent the tree from accidentally toppling over.
    • Do not use angel hair or lametta tinsel as the long strands are attractive to cats. Ingestion can cause telescoping of the intestines. This life-threatening condition occurs when a linear foreign body becomes lodged in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract while the loose segment travels further down the GI tract. Wavelike contractions (peristalsis) creep up the trapped foreign body and can slide into the section immediately ahead of it (like a telescope). Blood vessels become trapped between the layers, which compromises blood flow and leads to edema (swelling). Strangulation of the blood vessels leads to (necrosis) death of the affected tissue and disruption of the mucosal barrier which allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream (sepsis).
    • Place non-breakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree and delicate, breakables towards the top to prevent cats and children from pulling them down and breaking them.

    Toxicity of common Christmas trees

    Common name

    Scientific name

    Toxicity level

    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
    Scotch pine Pinus sylvestris No information available
    White pine Pinus strobus No information available
    Virginian pine Pinus virginiana Listed as toxic to dogs, no information on cats
    Norfolk Island
    pine
    , house pine
    Araucaria heterophylla Non-toxic

    Author

    • 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