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Are Amaryllis Plants Toxic to Cats? Common Houseplants Examined

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Christmas time is a joyous time for most people, and we have come to associate this cheerful holiday with a wide variety of plants that we adorn our homes with to celebrate the festivities. However, these plants are not universally safe for cats. Many plants—including the amarylliscan be poisonous and even deadly 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 felines. Amaryllis plants contain lycorine and other poisonous substances, leading to hypersalivation, gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain), lethargy, and tremors.

The bulb of the amaryllis plant contains the highest concentration of toxins, but all parts of the plant are toxic when ingested by cats or dogs. You can also find the amaryllis under many names, such as the Belladonna, Saint Joseph’s Lily, Cape Belladonna, or Naked Lady.

a cat that feels sick and seems to vomit
Image Credit: chie hidaka, Shutterstock

What Other Christmas Plants Are Toxic for Cats?

Unfortunately, most Christmas plants tend to be 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 happens to eat one.

Holly

christmas holly
Image credit: Susanne Jutzeler, Schweiz, from Pixabay

All parts of the holly plant are toxic when consumed by cats or dogs. Holly contains chemicals known as glycosides similar to soap and poisonous when ingested by cats or dogs. Cats who consume part of a holly plant could experience gastrointestinal distress—most notably vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite and lethargy.

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Pine Trees

Image Creit: Gimilli_, Pixabay

What is Christmas without a tree? However, it would help if you were careful with pine trees as they are toxic when ingested by cats. Wide varieties of pine trees cause toxicity in cats, including the Australian, Norfolk, and Norfolk Island Pines. However, unlike some other plants on this list, we don’t know the toxic compounds in pine trees.

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

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Mistletoe

mistletoe decoration during Christmas season
Image Credit: Peggychoucair, Pixabay

Mistletoe is another plant that most people can’t imagine Christmas without. However, like pine trees and holly, mistletoe is dangerous for cats. Keep this one safely out of reach of your cats, or they could ingest the toxins ovalbumin, lectins, or phoratoxins that this plant uses to protect itself from predators.

Cats who consume mistletoe might experience gastrointestinal distress, cardiovascular complications (low blood pressure and heart rate,) and neurological complications (weakness, collapsing, unusual behavior.)

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Poinsettia

Poinsettia plant in a vase
Image Credit: Gerhard G., Pixabay

The poinsettia flower is common to set out during the holidays, but these beautiful flowers are toxic to cats and humans who ingest them. The most susceptible populations are children and pets, but both groups will experience irritation to the mouth and vomiting.

While the public tends to consider poinsettias harmful to pets, the toxicology of the plant is far more benign. Irritation to the mouth and vomiting should be isolated and short-lived. These plants very rarely cause serious long-term complications.

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Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus
Image Credit: JamesDeMers, Pixsbay

Luckily, one plant is safe to have around your cats this winter: the Christmas Cactus. These lovely little plants are not toxic for people, cats, or dogs. However, because the plant is so densely packed with fiber, your cat may experience gastrointestinal distress because its gut microbiomes are not suitable for digesting fibrous plant materials.

The most dangerous part of the Christmas Cactus is its spines which may poke your cat when they get too close to the plant. Cats will likely be interested in sniffing the plant, resulting in some pricks if you don’t supervise them. However, they should lose interest in the plant rather quickly once they’ve ascertained that the plant is not an invader.

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What to Do If Your Cat Has Ingested a Toxic Plant

Here at Excited Cats, we recommend that you contact your veterinarian or pet poison helpline regarding pet poison control. It’s better safe than sorry.

If you suspect your cat has ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your cat’s veterinarian has more comprehensive knowledge of your cat’s condition and can more accurately determine what is wrong with your cat. There may be no cause for concern at all!

man talking on the phone
Image Credit: Mimzy, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

Plants might be beautiful around our homes, but they’re not always safe to keep near our pets. Unfortunately, the best way to keep your cat from consuming toxic plants is to prevent them from being brought into your home. Luckily, there is a wide range of plants that you can have in your home for any occasion without putting your cat at risk!

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Featured Image Credit: lucasgeorgewendt, Pixabay

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