Toxic Flowers and Plants: Many beautiful flowers begin to bloom in Spring. However, many of these beautiful flowers are also very dangerous to your cat. Please note that this is not a complete list of toxic flowers and plants. You can visit the ASPCA's list of toxic and non-toxic plants for a more complete list.
Easter Lilies: I would highly suggest NOT bringing home Easter lilies if you have a cat as part of your family. All "true lilies" are incredibly toxic to cats. Ingesting even a few leaves or petals from a "true lily," drinking water from the lily's vase, or licking pollen off its fur can cause acute kidney failure in cats. "True lilies" come from the Lilium or Hemerocallis species and include the Tiger, Easter, Western, Red, Japanese Show, Asiatic Hybrid, Day, Rubrum, Wood, and Stargazer lilies. All parts of these lilies are toxic - stems, leaves, petals, and pollen.
Clinical signs typically appear six to 12 hours after ingestion and may include decreased or excessive thirst, lack of appetite, vomiting, decreased or excessive urination, dehydration, lethargy, acute kidney failure, and death. Symptoms will worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats may also experience seizures, disorientation, and staggering. If you suspect your cat has ingested any type of "true lily," please take her to a veterinarian immediately. The sooner a kitty is treated for lily toxicity, the better her chances of survival. Treatment includes giving medication, such as activated charcoal that binds the poison in the stomach and intestines, giving intravenous fluids to help flush out the kidneys, inducing vomiting, and using blood tests to monitor kidney function.
Benign lilies, such as the Peace, Peruvian, and Calla Lily are safer to have around kitties, though they still cause mouth irritation if ingested. If a cat ingests any part of a benign lily, he may experience drooling, vomiting, foaming, and pawing at the mouth. In rare cases cats may also have trouble breathing after eating part of a benign lily.
Hyacinth: Hyacinths are beautiful flowers, but they are also poisonous to kitties. When ingested, a Hyacinth can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea (occasionally with blood), tremors, and depression.
Azalea: Vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, central nervous system depression, weakness, coma, low blood pressure, cardiac collapse, and death are all possible when a cat ingests azalea.
Sweet Pea: Though very beautiful, Sweet Pea is another flower toxic to cats. Ingestion of Sweet Pea can cause pacing, weakness, head pressing, lethargy, seizures, tremors, and death.
If you believe your cat has ingested any type of toxic plant, please contact your veterinarian or local animal hospital right away. You can also contact the ASPCA Poison Control hotline at 888-426-4435. Please note: the ASPCA charges a $65 consultation fee.
Safe Alternatives: Fortunately, there are a number of beautiful flowers you can keep in your home that aren't toxic to cats. Some of these include Roses, Easter Orchids, Easter Daisies, Bachelors Buttons, Camellias, Cornflowers, Petunias, Gerber Daisies, Hollyhocks, Impatience Plants, and Zinnias. You can view a more complete list of plants not toxic to cats on the ASPCA website.
Even though our kitty wasn't interested in Easter grass, most cats have a very difficult time resisting eating stringy things like fake Easter grass, ribbon, tinsel, yarn, or string. Sometimes stringy objects can pass through a cat's body with no problem. Other times, the ingested stringy object will cause an intestinal obstruction, which can only be treated by surgically removing the object swallowed. Signs of an intestinal obstruction can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, straining to have a bowel movement or producing only a small amount of feces, abdominal pain or tenderness, drooling, and lack of appetite. VCA Animal Hospitals also states that your cat may exhibit behavioral changes if he has an intestinal obstruction, such as hissing or growling when you touch his stomach or try to pick him up. He may also paw at his face or mouth if a stringy object got wrapped around the base of his tongue.
If you suspect your kitty has ingested any type of string-like object, please take him to your veterinarian or local animal hospital.
Safe Alternative: Instead of using fake Easter grass, line the bottom of children's baskets with fabric in their favorite color. Take any ribbons off the basket so that your kitty cannot play with or eat them. I would also suggest keeping your children's Easter baskets out of your cat's reach in a high cabinet so he cannot play with or eat any of the basket's contents.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity vary depending on what type of and how much chocolate your cat ate. Symptoms can range from vomiting, restlessness, abdominal pain, and increased thirst to high body temperature, muscle tremors, severe agitation, irregular heart rhythm, seizures, and death. If you think your kitty has eaten chocolate, please call your veterinarian, local animal hospital, or the ASPCA Poison Control hotline.
Xylitol: Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in some candies, gum, baked goods, and toothpaste. According to WebMD, xylitol can lead your kitty's body to produce more insulin, which results in a drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Initial clinical signs of xylitol toxicity in cats may include loss of coordination, vomiting, and lethargy. Some kitties may also have seizures. Liver failure can occur a few days after a cat eats something containing xylitol as well. It's important to have your companion checked out by a veterinarian if you believe she has eaten something containing xylitol.
Safe Alternatives: Cats should never eat any type of candy or gum. However, if you want to give your kitty a tasty treat on Easter, purchase his favorite kind of cat treats. Alternatively, you could purchase some new cat treats for him to try.
Do you have any Easter plans? Please tell us about them in the comments section!
Pet Health Network: Easter Lily Poisoning in Cats.
Pet Poison Helpline: Easter Pet Poisons.
VCA Animal Hospitals: Ingestion of Foreign Bodies in Cats.
WebMD: Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat.
ASPCA: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets.