With their crimson leaves, poinsettias are stunning plants, and most people can’t resist having them in their homes.
However, poinsettias have a bad rap; they are said to be poisonous to cats and other pets. It also does not help that their name is eerily similar to “poison.”
So, are poinsettias poisonous to cats? The simple answer is no; they are not poisonous to cats—only mildly toxic. This means that this plant is unlikely to harm your pet unless consumed in large quantities, which is highly improbable due to its terrible flavor.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about poinsettias and cats.
History of Poinsettias in the United States
The poinsettia goes by several names, including the Christmas star, Christmas flower, lobster plant, or the Mexican flameleaf.
This plant was introduced in the United States by the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, during the 1820s. As you can tell, the plant was named after the ambassador.
However, in its native home of Mexico, the poinsettia is known as “Noche Buena,” which means “Christmas Eve” in Spanish, hence the plant’s association with Christmas.
Why are Poinsettias Considered Poisonous?
The poinsettia is classified under the banner of toxic plants. However, according to Pet Poison Helpline, poinsettias are only mildly toxic to cats and other pets, and that their poisonous reputation is a great exaggeration.
The fable of poinsettias being an extremely poisonous plant began in 1919 in Hawaii when the young child of an army officer died after allegedly eating poinsettia leaves. However, the myth has since been debunked, with factual reports showing that this plant had nothing to do with the child’s death.
What Happens When a Cat Eats Poinsettia Leaves?
As mentioned, poinsettias are only mildly toxic to cats, meaning that they are likely to harm your cat. However, in some cases, a cat might start displaying symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additionally, the poinsettia’s white sap can cause skin irritation, swelling, and redness around the mouth.
Fortunately, these symptoms are rarely severe enough to warrant medical attention. With that said, sensitive cats might have a more extreme reaction, necessitating a trip to the vet.
Treating Symptoms of Poinsettia Poisoning
As mentioned, most cats who consume poinsettia leaves do not require any medical treatment. In fact, according to Pet Poison Helpline, there is no antidote for poinsettia poisoning.
As such, the best you can do is wait for the symptoms to clear up by themselves. Hopefully, kitty will have learned their lesson.
Are poinsettias poisonous to cats? No, they are not. However, the poinsettia’s milky white sap contains chemicals that are mildly toxic to cats and dogs. Fortunately, the resulting symptoms are more of an annoyance to the animal than life-threatening complications.
Moreover, the plant’s bitter taste is more than enough to deter the cat from ever trying to have a bite again. Therefore, you can rest easy knowing that this plant is more or less harmless to your kitty.
Featured Image: Gerhard G., Pixabay