Hazardous Houseplants – Keep Your Cat Safe

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Many of us cat lovers know that our little chums love a nibble on some greenery.  Growing cat grass from seed and having a few pots of it in your house is a cheap and easy way to satisfy your cat’s natural craving for grass; in addition, cat grass aids digestion, helps to remove hairballs, provides essential vitamins, and it may deter them from eating your houseplants and flowers – which, as you’ll see below, can only be a good thing.

Cats are normally quite cautious about what they eat.  They have an excellent sense of smell and are usually able to ascertain whether something is good or bad to eat.  However, cats that are very young or that are bored or inquisitive may try a plant that is toxic to them.  Indoor cats are particularly vulnerable to trying out houseplants or flowers because they don’t have the array of stimulation that access to the outdoors allows.

Lilies are commonly found in bouquets – beautiful, but extremely toxic to cats.  Although your cat may not be interested in eating them, it’s so easy for them to brush up against the pollen and ingest it whilst washing.  I was astounded whilst watching Gardeners’ World a few months ago when Monty Don suggested that lilies were not dangerous to cats!  I love Monty, but this shows a worrying lack of understanding and research – lilies are not to be taken lightly.  If your cat ingests any part of a lily it is at risk of severe poisoning, so by far the best way to keep your cat safe is to ban lilies from your house altogether.

Poinsettias are everywhere at this time of year, as are holly and mistletoe – and all three plants are poisonous to cats.  Whilst they may not be deadly they are toxic enough to make your cat sick, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid having these plants in the house.  If you have a very old, very young or sick cat, even a mild case of poisoning can cause severe harm.

If your cat has been poisoned she may show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, salivation, fitting, twitching, shock, breathing difficulties, collapse, and coma.  However, if you have even the slightest suspicion that your cat has eaten a poisonous plant, call your vet immediately – please don’t wait for signs of poisoning to develop.

Remember, prevention is better than cure when it comes to hazardous houseplants.  Check out reputable websites such as Cats Protection and the ASPCA to find out which plants are toxic to cats – their lists are based on fact and not hearsay.  Remove any toxic plants or flowers and replace them with cat-safe plants.

Finally, make sure you have plenty of cat grass dotted around the house in containers of various shapes and sizes.  Your cat will love you for it.