Is Shasta Daisy Poisonous to My Cat?

  • Authors:

  • What is a daisy?

    The daisy is a common wildflower belonging to the Asteraceae family. It can be identified by a solid-colored center surrounded by 15 to 30 petals. The flower can appear in several different color combinations. The most recognized is the Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum), which has a yellow center with white petals. It is among many house and garden plants that are toxic to cats.

    Is the daisy plant poisonous / toxic to cats?

    Ironically, calendars and greeting card photographs will often feature a cat sitting or playing among the daisies, however, owners should be aware that daisies are toxic to cats.

    Toxicity class – how dangerous is it for my cat?

    According to toxicity levels compiled by the University of California’s College of Agriculture Sciences (Source), the daisy is a Level II poison, moderately toxic and moderately irritating. The chemicals that daisies produce can result in minor illnesses such as vomiting and diarrhea should a cat ingest the plant.

    What happens if a cat eats a daisy plant?

    Should your cat ingest daisies, you’ll know fairly quickly. The symptoms could include:

    • Vomiting or Refusing Food

    You cat will begin vomiting in an attempt to purge the toxins from their body. This first symptom can result in dehydration if the vomiting continues for any length of time.

    • Diarrhea 

    Watery stools alone can precipitate dehydration. If it is combined with vomiting, your cat could suffer quickly.

    • Hemorrhaging 

    Dark, or black, stools and stools with blood in them are an indication of internal bleeding, particularly of the digestive tract.

    • Dermatitis 

    Some cats may begin scratching or biting at an area of their skin. This is most likely due to a rash caused by an allergic response to the chemicals in daisies.

    • Loss of Coordination

    By nature, cats are agile creatures. Consuming daisies could cause a feline to appear off balance or cause them to move clumsily. If you are aware of your cat’s normal gait, this should be fairly obvious. Felines may also become lethargic or have a different sounding meow. It’s important to know your own cat’s unique peculiarities.

    • Excessive Salivation 

    Although cats under certain circumstances drool, it is not normally a behavior associated with felines. However, daisy poisoning can lead to excessive salivation—yet another contributor to dehydration.

    What happens if a cat touches a daisy plant?

    Touching a daisy plant could be harmless, but it also could cause an issue for your cat. The toxic chemicals in the daisy can cause the skin to become inflamed, and should a cat lick their skin or fur after brushing against a daisy plant, it could result in the symptoms listed above.

    Would my cat actually eat a daisy plant if I had it at home?

    Cats are attracted to strong odors like catnip, and daisies also have a strong odor. Keep in mind, however, that just because your cat likes the smell doesn’t mean they will eat the plant. To be on the safe side, daisies should be moved out of reach of pets or be removed entirely from the premises.

    How much would a cat need to eat to experience serious issues?

    Cats are very sensitive individuals, and any amount of daisy ingestion can cause a serious upset to your cat’s well-being. It is better to be safe than sorry and have your cat checked out by a vet if you believe they have ingested daisies.

    Would my cat need emergency veterinary help if they ate a daisy plant?

    If you know for sure that your cat ate a daisy plant, or if your cat exhibits any symptoms of ingesting poison (daisies or any other toxin), an immediate call to the vet is necessary. They can give you the advice that you need based on your unique circumstances.

    Signs you need to see the vet / How can the vet help?

    The first thing a vet will do is to physically examine your cat. It’s important that you are able to tell your vet exactly what and how much your cat ate as well as the type and timing of symptoms. Bringing a sample of what was ingested can also be useful.

    Your vet might order bloodwork, and they are likely to start your cat on fluid therapy to help wash the toxins out of the cat’s system as well as to prevent further dehydration.

    What should I do if my cat eats a daisy plant?

    If your cat eats a daisy plant, your first instinct should be to call your vet with all the facts that you have. Your vet can advise you on how to handle the situation, and if your cat is exhibiting symptoms, the vet will most likely ask you to bring the cat in.

    Cats that are not having symptoms might be able to get away with you closely supervising them for a while. Do not attempt to administer first aid unless your vet instructs you to do so. And then, follow their instructions to the word. The only measures you can safely take at home before talking to your vet are to monitor your cat and keep them confined should they need to be transported to the vet. Ask your vet if you should withhold food or water.

    First-Aid Kits

    It’s always wise to have a first-aid kit on hand, however, do not attempt to administer first aid unless you have been instructed to do so by your vet. If you know for sure there is daisy pollen or some sort of residue on your cat’s coat, you can clean or clip the fur off in that area and dispose of it.

    Prognosis

    The good news is that a cat with daisy poisoning will make a relatively speedy recovery provided you follow your vet’s instructions. They will most likely recommend a bland diet temporarily.

    The bottom line: should I keep my daisy plants if they are poisonous? Is there really a risk?

    If there is any chance of your cat getting into your daisy plants, it is not worth the risk. Although your cat will most likely recover from the toxin, the accompanying illness and the veterinary costs can be stressful.

    If you absolutely must have daisies, you can opt for either African or gerbera daisies, which happen to be non-toxic varieties.

    Authors

    • Dr. Ochoa is a veterinarian for Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, Texas.

    • Sue Murray owes her love of cats to two little domestic shorthairs named Scooter and Buttons who showed her that curtains are for climbing, litter is to scatter, nights are for running wildly through the house, and dogs are to hiss at. Sue has rescued or fostered more than 50 felines and enjoys writing about her experiences.