Cats are curious by nature. While their human owners sometimes joke about their investigative habits, this characteristic helps keep cats safe from most dangers. However, it can lead them to trouble, especially when it comes to poisonous substances. Because many pet cats spend the majority of their time indoors, it is critical that their owners take proper precautions with everyday objects around the home, including some very common house plants. If you suspect your cat has consumed any inappropriate substance, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Though they are popular in many store-bought flower arrangements, lilies are among the most dangerous house plants for cats. A cat that ingests any amount of a lily from any part of the plant can become extremely sick. Lilies cause kidney failure in cats in as little as 36 hours, and this severe condition can lead to death. For the health and safety of your cat, keep him away from all members of the Liliaceae and Hemerocallis species, including Easter lilies, tiger lilies, Japanese show lilies and day lilies. Symptoms of lily poisoning include vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite. If you suspect your cat has ingested part of a lily, seek veterinary attention immediately.
The aloe plant is a common fixture in many households. Its soothing properties are helpful in treating first aid events like burns and scrapes. However, it is toxic to cats. Though aloe's appearance is similar to that of a cactus, it is actually a member of the Liliaceae family, the same family that includes lilies. Aloe contains saponins, and it is this chemical that causes symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, tremors or a change in urine color.
Schefflera is another popular house plant that is poisonous to cats. Schefflera is common in many households and offices because it's fast-growing and has a unique, tropical look. But its green leaves can be dangerous for your feline friend. Schefflera contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms include irritation and burning in the mouth and surrounding areas, as well as trouble swallowing and abnormal drooling.
The large, colorful flowers of the amaryllis are a Christmas tradition for many plant lovers, but can make a cat sick. This plant only blooms once a year, which may make it more interesting to a curious cat. The amaryllis can produce serious symptoms if ingested by a cat. These symptoms include abdominal pain, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
Poinsettias seem to be everywhere during December: they're inexpensive and have beautiful colored leaves that last into the winter months. The poinsettia's sap, or latex, can have irritating results for a cat that ingests it, including stomach and mouth irritation and vomiting. However, the poinsettia is not as toxic as many people believe, and generally does not cause reactions as severe as other types of plants, such as lilies.