It’s that time of year again. Despite the cold weather we have been getting, the arrival of spring is just around the corner. While planning spring and summer gardens, cat owners may want to know there are more than 100 very common plants that are poisonous to cats, and hundreds more that we may not necessarily recognize the names of, but are present in our homes and gardens.

Some of the more common plants you may want to be mindful of are aloe vera, candelabra, daffodil, eucalyptus, Morning Glory and many varieties of lilies, according to the SPCA’s website.

Cats can have varying reactions to poisonous plants from mild stomach upset to life-threatening symptoms and even death. So while planning your garden, you may want to omit the following plants from your list of must haves.

  • Azaleas are members of the Rhododendron family, and all plants in this family are moderately toxic to cats, including all parts of the plants. Azaleas are especially dangerous just because of their availability. These plants thrive both indoors and in gardens. So even if you don’t have them in your home, your cat can still come in contact with them. According to the ASPCA Poison Center clinical signs include “vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, weakness, coma, hypotension, CNS depression, cardiovascular collapse and death.”
  • Chrysanthemums are popular perennials for fall color. The leaves and stem are the toxic part. Ingestion results in vomiting, diarrhea, depression, drooling and lack of appetite.
  • Daffodils, also known as Narcissus, are the traditional harbinger of Spring, but can cause upset tummies, vomiting, and/or diarrhea or worse, if your cat eats the foliage, flowers, or pods.
  • Hydrangeas are making a gardening comeback due to their immense popularity as dried flowers in arrangements. Their toxicity level is low and may result in stomach pains, vomiting, and weakness if the flower heads are ingested.
  • Iris’ are favorite flowers in old-fashioned gardens, where they were once known as “Flags.” They are fairly safe to use in gardening, once planted, as the bulbs are the suspect part for toxicity, causing typical gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Ivy is commonly used both as ground cover and for shade, as in covering gazebos or trellises. Many species of ivy are considered moderately toxic, and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, along with breathing difficulty, coma, or even death, if a sufficient amount of leaves is ingested.
  • Lilies are legion; they come in many varieties almost year-round. Sad to say, they are on the “least wanted” list of plants in a garden for cats, as ingestion of any part of the plant can ultimately lead to death.
  • Marigolds are sturdy, perky little annuals, colorful and exceptionally easy to grow. Their pungent aroma helps keeps insects at bay, and they are commonly planted near roses to deter aphids. However, if your cat eats marigold leaves or stems, she will suffer mild mouth irritation, possible drooling, tummy pain and diarrhea.
  • Wisteria is naturally a vine, but has been trained to grow as trees by some horticulturists. The seeds and pods are the toxic part, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and collapse, if ingested.
  • Some rose species are toxic to cats such as the desert rose, Christmas rose, Easter rose, China rose, rose of Sharon (hibiscus) and moss rose, while other rose species are non-toxic to cats such as the copper rose, dwarf rose-stripe star and the standard rose.
  • Hibiscus is toxic not only to cats but to dogs and horses. Hibiscus which can thrive indoors or outdoors can induce vomiting, nausea, anorexia and diarrhea. If there is a suspicion of hibiscus poisoning, take the animal to a veterinarian for observation. Hibiscus can be grown outdoors in warmer climates or be a houseplant during the cooler seasons. Keep the hibiscus out of reach of pets.

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, get him to a veterinarian immediately.

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