One of the best things about the festive period is decorating the house with seasonal plants. But if you have a cat, you want to know that any new plant you introduce is safe for cats – so we’ve made a list below of some of the most popular festive plants and given them a rating for cat safety. Take a look at our guide below to help you decide which cat friendly plants you’ll be decking the halls with this year.
Seasonal Plants That Are Non-Toxic For Cats
Also known as - Easter Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Crab Cactus, Holiday Cactus
If you’re looking for a safe festive plant that literally says Christmas, then the good news is that Christmas cactus is not toxic to cats. This doesn’t mean that your cat should be eating it though! Should they take a fancy to it, move the plant pot out of their reach and consider offering some cat-friendly plants to chew on instead, such as cat grass or catnip.
True ferns are considered to be non-toxic for cats and can make a great alternative festive decoration. Again, you should discourage you cat from eating any houseplants weather they are considered toxic or non-toxic. One thing to watch out for is some plants have fern in the name but are not true ferns, so you should always check each plant with a reputable site such as the ASPCA - Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List
Also known as - Phalaenopsis
With a delicate bloom that can last for more than 3 months, this is a lovely cat-friendly plant to bring into the house at Christmas. It can bloom many times a year and produces beautiful flowers that range from white to cream, yellow to pink and violet. A gorgeous festive plant that is non-toxic for cats, what more could you want!
A super striking, colourful and cat friendly plant that is guaranteed to add a flash of pazazz to your home this winter. It’s not actually a flower but a flower shaped bract, which turns bright red, orange or yellow and is thankfully non-toxic for cats.
Seasonal Plants That Are Mildly Toxic For Cats
Pine trees are mildly toxic to cats and their spiky foliage can cause injury when eaten. It’s also worth noting that the water your Christmas tree sits in can build up toxic oils that are harmful to cats as well as harbouring bacteria, so if you do sit your tree in water, it's best to keep it covered.
Also known as Euphorbia, Lobster Flower, Flame Leaf Flower, Flower of the Holy Night, Flower of Christmas Eve, Crown of the Andes, Easter flower
A very popular plant over the Christmas period and while it is commonly known that Poinsettia is poisonous to cats, what is less commonly known is that although it has a bad reputation, poinsettia is only mildly toxic to cats.
It’s the milky white sap that is found in the plant that makes Poinsettia poisonous to cats and can cause drooling, mild vomiting and occasionally diarrhoea. If the sap is exposed to the skin or eyes, it can cause irritation. Medical treatment is rarely needed unless the symptoms are severe and persistent.
Seasonal Plants That Are Moderately Toxic For Cats
Also known as - Belladonna lily, Saint Joseph lily, Cape Belladonna, Naked Lady
This group of plants which is part of the larger Lilly family contain a substance called lycorine which makes amaryllis poisonous to cats. Lycorine is present in their leaves, stems, flowers and bulbs and consumption can lead to vomiting, low blood pressure and respiratory depression amongst other symptoms.
Also known as - Ilex, English Holly, Chinese Holly, Japanese holly, Saponins
A classic Christmas garland material, holly is unfortunately not cat friendly. Not only does it contain saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens, which all make holly poisonous to cats, its spiny leaves can also cause injury. If ingested the toxic substances it contains can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea.
Also known as - Hedera, Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy, California Ivy
Ivy, the lyrical Christmas partner to holly is unfortunately also toxic to cats. It contains triterpenoid saponins which makes ivy poisonous to cats and the foliage of ivy is more toxic than the berries. If ingested it can lead to vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, and diarrhoea.
Also known as - Christmas Rose, Lenten Rose
Part of the Buttercup family and a popular festive plant Hellebore contains protoanemonin, veratrin, glycosides and bufadienolides all of which make hellebore poisonous to cats.
Azalea / Rhododendron
Members of the Rhododendron family contain grayantoxins that make both the popular festive azalea and rhododendron poisonous to cats. If ingested in large quantities, it can cause a more severe reaction leading to coma or death from cardiovascular collapse.
Seasonal Plants That Are Severely Toxic For Cats
Also known as - Phoradendron, Christmas Yuletide Plants
Both the American variety (Phoradendron serotinum) and the European variety (Viscum album) of mistletoe contain toxins that make mistletoe poisonous to cats, although the American variety of mistletoe is less toxic to cats than its European relation. That said, both types of mistletoe are dangerous to cats and can lead to drooling, vomiting and diarrea even when ingested in small quantities and abnormal heart rate, low blood pressure, seizures and death when consumed in large quantities.
Yew is a common tree to be brought into the house at Christmas but unfortunately yew is toxic to cats. A compound called taxine which is found in all parts of the tree makes yew poisonous to cats and if ingested can lead to muscle tremors, seizures, respiratory distress, and cardiac failure.
Related post: 'Cat First Aid'