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Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Cats?

Can This Pretty Holiday Plant Be Harmful to Your Cat?

By Sora Wondra. November 21, 2013 | See Comments

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Young Cat Sitting On A Couch Decorated With Ponsettias

Poinsettias are a staple of the Christmas season. However, this plant can make your cat sick, and it's better to be safe than sorry. Learn more here.

When the holiday season rolls around, you often hear people worrying about buying a poinsettia plant out of fear that they are poisonous to cats—but is this really true? According to the ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline, poinsettias are not deadly, but they are toxic enough to make your cat mildly sick.

While poinsettias are in a group of toxic plants, they are only mildly poisonous to humans and animals. The white sap in the plant can cause skin or digestive irritation, but it would have to be consumed in huge quantities to be deadly. The bad flavor should discourage eating more than a couple bites, but it is still worth taking precautions to keep these plants away from your cat or out of the house altogether.

Symptoms of Poinsettia Consumption

Eating poinsettia leaves can cause a cat to drool, vomit, or have diarrhea, but cats rarely eat enough to warrant medical attention. That said, some cats may be more sensitive and have a more extreme reaction.

Skin irritation, swelling, and redness, especially around the mouth, can also occur if the skin came into contact with the white sap. On rare occasions, if sap gets into an eye, it can cause conjunctivitis and swelling. Poinsettias are dangerous to cats because of the secondary effects of consumption or contact.

Treatment

Most cats who ingest a small amount of poinsettia leaves don't require any treatment. Veterinary treatment is only necessary in extreme cases. If the symptoms are mild and your cat is quickly improving, you should be able to take care of them at home.

If your cat vomits, remove food and water for a few hours then reintroduce fluids with bland food. You can wash irritated skin with soap and water but it will eventually clear up on its own. Remove the poinsettia to keep your cat from chewing on it again.

Other Hidden Dangers

While poinsettias may not be severely toxic for cats, the hype about them has kept people from being aware of other dangers and more poisonous holiday plants. Since poinsettias are so popular, they are often mass-produced at the end of the year. As such, they are sometimes grown with harsh pesticides which can cause major or fatal damage to your cat if ingested.

Other holiday plants are also more dangerous than poinsettias, especially lilies, holly, and mistletoe. Every part of a lily is considered poisonous to cats, even the pollen, and small amounts eaten by your cat can lead to kidney failure.

If you have a curious or plant-loving cat, and you can't place your poinsettia out of reach, it's probably not worth it to have one in your home this year. If you watch out for poinsettias and other dangerous plants as you decorate, you and your cat should have a nice, safe holiday.

More on Cat Health

Why Chocolate is Bad for Dogs and Cats
Poisonous Plants to Dogs and Cats
The Most Poisonous Foods for Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Cats And Ponsettias at a glance

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  • 1Poinsettias are not severely toxic, but eating them can make your cat drool, vomit, or have diarrhea.
  • 2In most cases, if your cat ingests poinsettia leaves they will recover on their own without treatment.
  • 3If your poinsettia has been treated with pesticides, though, those pesticides can be fatal to cats.
  • 4Other holiday plants are more dangerous than poinsettias, such as mistletoe, holly, and lilies.