Cats are intelligent creatures that usually avoid things that can hurt them. However, sometimes curiosity gets too much, and if your cat decides to eat certain plants, including poppies, that can mean bad news for them.
Poppies are used to make opiates (including opium and heroin), and they can be very dangerous for cats. All parts of the poppy, including the stem, leaves, seeds, and flowers, can potentially cause health issues in cats. No specific studies could be found on toxicity in cats through accidental ingestion but rather it is extrapolated from information on toxicity in dogs and other animals. It is assumed that ingestion of large amounts of poppy would be toxic to cats.
Click below to jump ahead:
- What Are Poppies and How Can They Affect Cats?
- How Can I Tell if My Cat Has Eaten a Poppy?
- What Is the Most Toxic Flower to Cats?
What Are Poppies and How Can They Affect Cats?
There are 70 species of poppy and they are primarily found in temperate climates such as Europe and North America.
Poppies contain both opioid and alkaloid compounds such as isoquinoline and phenanthrene.
These compounds are usually found in all parts of the poppy but are more concentrated in the milky “sap” that’s found around poppy seed pods. However, your cat would likely have to ingest a large number of plants to cause significant illness, and cats are generally unlikely to eat enough to cause serious harm. In addition, vomiting is usually one of the first sign which helps to remove the toxin from the digestive system.
They are quite good at avoiding toxic plants, but be vigilant and avoid poppies in your home and garden, as even the seeds can cause poisoning. Seek advice from your veterinarian if your cat eats poppies, including the seeds, as signs can come on rapidly, and each cat may react differently to poppy ingestion.
How Can I Tell if My Cat Has Eaten a Poppy?
One of the first things to look for with any toxin ingestion is for parts of the plant in your cat’s vomit. Most of the time, your cat will vomit to begin trying to clear the toxins from their system; this might be distressing for you, but looking through their vomit for any signs of the plant, including the stem, flower, or leaves, can help identify what plant your cat might have eaten.
Looking for the signsof poppy toxicity, such as vomiting, lethargy, or coordination problems, can also help, particularly if you have poppies in the garden or have noticed your cats around them.
When in doubt, take a picture of your garden, and take your cat to the vet, explaining that you think they may have eaten a flower. The photo can be useful to your vet if you are unsure.
What Is the Most Toxic Flower to Cats?
Lilies are usually considered the most toxic plant to cats. Even the pollen of a lily plant on a cat’s fur can be lethal after they lick it off.
The petals, stamen, pollen, leaves, and stems can all cause rapid kidney failure if ingested, which can sadly be fatal even with prompt veterinarian treatment. Even lapping at the water a lily has been in can be toxic, so it’s better to never have lilies in the house or the garden and thoroughly wash your hands and clothes after contact with lilies.
Poppies have been used to produce opiates such as morphine for thousands of years and have been instrumental in combating pain in animals and humans. Ingesting poppies, however, can be lethal for many animals, including cats and people.
Their toxicity can have different effects depending on the type of poppy eaten and what part of the poppy was ingested and how much. If your cat shows any signs of poppy toxicity or you notice they’ve eaten a poppy, take them to the vet’s, as it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
Featured Image Credit: Serhii Brovko, Shutterstock