Are amaryllis plants toxic to cats? Inspect houseplants reviewed by a veterinarian

Are amaryllis plants toxic to cats?  Inspect houseplants reviewed by a veterinarian

Photos by Dr. Lorna Whittemore
The information is current and updated according to the latest veterinary research.

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Christmas time is a joyful time for most people, and we have come to associate this joyful holiday with the different plants we decorate our homes with to mark the festivities. However, these plants are not universally safe for cats. Many plants, including amaryllisIt can be toxic and even fatal when consumed by a cat. Read on to learn more about amaryllis poisoning and how to keep your cats safe!

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Amaryllis poisoning: what is it and what does it look like?

In short, amaryllis poisoning is toxicity caused by consuming parts of the amaryllis plant. Amaryllis plants are toxic to both canines and cats. They contain lycorine and other toxic substances, leading to hypersalivation, gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain), lethargy, and tremors.

The amaryllis bulb contains the highest concentration of toxins, but all parts of the plant are toxic when ingested by cats or dogs. You can also find amaryllis under many names, such as belladonna, St. Joseph's lily, Cape belladonna, or naked lady.

What other Christmas plants are toxic to cats?

Unfortunately, most Christmas plants are toxic when ingested by cats (and people, for that matter!) Here's the scoop on Christmas plants and what you can expect if your cat eats one.

1. Holly

Holly Christmas
Image source: Susanne Gutzeller, Switzerland, from Pixabay

All parts of the sacred plant are toxic when consumed by cats or dogs. Holly contains chemicals known as glycosides, which resemble soap and are toxic when ingested by cats or dogs. Cats who consume part of the holly plant can suffer from digestive disorders – most notably vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and lethargy.


2. Pine trees

Image credit: Gemily_, Pixabay

What is Christmas without a tree? However, it may be worth being careful with pine trees as they are toxic when ingested by cats. Several species of pine trees cause poisoning in cats, including Australian, Norfolk, and Norfolk Island pine. However, unlike other plants on this list, we do not know which toxic compounds are found in pine trees.

The water we use to keep trees alive is more dangerous than the trees themselves. These bowls of standing water can contain bacteria, mold, and fertilizers used to keep the tree healthy, and pets that drink from the water can become seriously ill.


3. Mistletoe

Mistletoe decoration during the Christmas season
Image credit: Peggy Choucair, Pixabay

Mistletoe is another plant that most people can't imagine Christmas without. However, like pines and hollies, mistletoe is dangerous to cats. Keep it out of your cat's reach, otherwise it may ingest the toxins ovalbumin, lectins, or voratoxins that the plant uses to protect itself from predators.

Cats that consume mistletoe can suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular complications (low blood pressure and heart rate), and neurological complications (weakness, collapse, unusual behavior).


4. Poinsettia

Poinsettia plant in a pot
Image source: Gerhard Gee, Pixabay

Poinsettias are a popular holiday feature, but their beautiful flowers are toxic to cats and humans who eat them. The most susceptible populations are children and pets, but both groups will experience mouth irritation and vomiting.

While the public tends to consider poinsettias harmful to pets, the toxicology of the plant is much milder. Oral irritation and vomiting should be isolated and short-lived. Plants rarely cause serious long-term complications.


5. Christmas cactus

Christmas cactus
Image credit: JamesDeMers, Pixsbay

Fortunately, there is one plant that is safe to have around your cat this winter: the Christmas cactus. These beautiful little plants are not toxic to people, cats or dogs. However, because the plant is so densely packed with fibre, your cat may experience gastrointestinal distress because its intestinal microbiome is not suited to digesting fibrous plant material.

The most dangerous part of the Christmas cactus is its thorns, which can prick your cat when they get too close to the plant. Cats are likely interested in smelling the plant, which will result in some twitching if not supervised. However, they should quickly lose interest in it once they are sure that the plant is not invasive.

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What to do if your cat eats a poisonous plant

Here at Catster, we recommend contacting your Vet Helpline or Pet Poison Helpline regarding pet poison control. It is better to be safe than sorry. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect that your cat has ingested a toxic substance.

Your veterinarian has a more comprehensive knowledge of your cat's condition and can more accurately determine what is wrong with your cat. There may be no reason to worry at all!

Man talking on the phone
Image credit: Mimzy, Pixabay

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Final thoughts

Plants may be beautiful around our homes, but they're not always safe to keep near our pets. Unfortunately, the best way to prevent your cat from eating toxic plants is to prevent them from entering your home. Fortunately, you can have a wide variety of plants in your home for any occasion without Exposing your cat to danger!


Featured image credit: Lukas Georgwindt, Pixabay

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