Don't bring your cat around these toxic outdoor plants. As pet owners, you know what it’s like to consider your furry friends to be your very own family. The worst thing imaginable would be to harm them in any way. After all, they are living, breathing souls. One of the most common ways that people accidentally harm their cats is by putting a common household plant in their yard that can kill cats.
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Of course, no loving cat owners buy a plant knowing it could harm their cat. They just don’t realize that some plants may harm their cats, and they might not know which plants to choose.
This post is part 2 of our toxic plants series. Please check out our first post that covers indoor houseplants that are toxic to cats, as well as cat-friendly swaps you can choose to keep your furry family members safe.
Both posts will help you figure out which plants you can’t buy, or should get rid of, if you have cats that you want to keep safe. They also provide alternatives to each toxic plant that you might like as a safe replacement. This post is a little more difficult than the houseplants post, because digging up outdoor plants can be much more difficult than lovingly rehoming your potted indoor plants. However, cats are part of our families, and the effort is worth it for safety and peace of mind.
Keep in mind that these are not direct swaps of plants that are exactly the same, but ideas that draw from similar features of each beautiful outdoor plant. It’s also very important to note that even non-toxic plants can cause negative symptoms in a cat if they eat large quantities of them, since that is not their natural diet. (Just like humans would get an upset stomach if they just started eating bushes!) While this is not a complete list of plants that can harm your kitties, our goal is to help you avoid the most common poisonous plants that are the most toxic to cats, while keeping your yard beautiful and inviting.
- TOXIC PLANTS AND THEIR REPLACEMENTS:
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Lilies
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Daffodils
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Hydrangea
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Ivy
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Azalea
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Irises
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Tulips
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Hyacinths
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Rhododendrons
- Toxic Plant for Cats: Foxgloves
TOXIC PLANTS AND THEIR REPLACEMENTS:
Toxic Plant for Cats: Lilies
Lilies are a very popular choice for homeowners to keep in their yard. Their large, beautiful petals bloom in the spring, bringing joy and life to the neighborhood. This is why it’s so sad that most lilies are toxic to cats.
These aren’t something you want to mess around with: even small quantities of plants like true lilies and lilies of the valley can mess with your cat's heart rate, if parts of this plant are consumed. If this finding makes you sad, don’t worry! There are plenty of other plants that you can substitute to bring that same sense of life and beauty to your yard.
Alternative Safe Plant: Orchids
Orchids are a cat-safe plant that also have large, colorful petals with a similar silky smooth texture to lilies’ petals. If you want a beautiful, single-stem flowering plant suitable for pet parents, look no further! Orchids can be a unique and beautiful replacement for the lilies you love.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Daffodils
Daffodils are another single-stem flowering plant that many include in their yard to bring bright joy and life to their home. They are so common, it completely makes sense if you did not know they could harm your kitties. However, it’s very important to keep your cats safe, and daffodils can be dangerous if they are consumed by cats, so swapping them for another beautiful alternative is a good idea.
Alternative Safe Plant: Gerbera Daisies
Gerbera daisies are known for their happy, beautiful vibe, which makes them a popular pick for bouquets and potted plants. If you want a pop of life and color in your yard, you can plant these beautiful, single-stem flowers as a replacement for your beloved daffodils. They look adorable in any front yard or surrounding any mailbox!
Toxic Plant for Cats: Hydrangea
Hydrangea bushes are another popular pick because of their large bundles of multicolored flowers. Many people have them in their front yard to adorn their home and make their house look welcoming. It may feel like there is no true replacement for your hydrangeas, but we have a cat-safe idea to help your yard maintain that homey, floral feel while not endangering your feline friends.
Alternative Safe Plant: Camellias
Camellias are an often-overlooked type of flower bushes that can also make your home look inviting and beautiful. There are more than 250 species available to choose from, with many different types of flowers, which sometimes grow in bunches.
If you are a die-hard hydrangea lover, this might be a tough swap, so feel free to check out other cat-safe options. At the end of the day, your kitties’ health and well-being is the priority, so making the swap to other flowering bushes is definitely the right decision.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Ivy
Ivy (including English ivy and other varieties) is one of those common plants that is used to cover the sides of houses, act as ground cover in a yard or garden, and it’s known for its easy-to-spread green leaves.
Sadly, if your kitties eat them, they can experience fever, vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and other scary effects. There is no reason your kitties should have the risk of being hurt by your plants. But you don’t need to sacrifice your beautiful ground cover to keep your cats safe.
Alternative Safe Plant: Asiatic Jasmine
The good news is, Jasmine is non-toxic to cats! This beautiful, leafy green plant is another spreading plant that is used for ground cover. We'd like to specifically point out Asiatic jasmine, which is a popular ground cover choice. Jasmine comes in all different shapes and appearances, but Asiatic jasmine is one option that can keep your yard or garden beautifully green while keeping your furry friends safe.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Azalea
Every gardener knows the beauty of azaleas. Their beautiful pink flowers can be seen from a mile away, and they really brighten up a yard or garden. Unfortunately, every part of the plant can cause negative effects in cats, and cats are known to want to nibble on the leaves and flowers.
Alternative Safe Plant: Alstroemeria (Lily of the Incas)
Although we mentioned earlier that most lilies can cause negative symptoms in cats, alstroemeria is a variety that is non-toxic. Like we said at the beginning of the article, even plants that are labeled “cat-safe” (or non-toxic) can cause some symptoms if your cats eat a lot of them, so no matter what type you plant, keep an eye out for whether your cats are leaving them alone or eating a lot of them.
Overall, however, lily of the Incas plants are much safer for your cats than azaleas if they consume only a small amount, and you can get ones with big pink flowers that will be a good replacement.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Irises
Many people have beautiful irises in your lawn, and actually, the parts of the plant that are above ground are not the worry when it comes to this type of plant. It’s the bulbs that are actually dangerous to your cats.
So, if your cats aren’t diggers, these could be okay, but the best way to give yourself and your kitty a better experience is to stay on the safe side if possible, and we have a really beautiful replacement for these.
Alternative Safe Plant: Lisianthus
Lisianthus is an absolutely stunning plant that is so underrated, and best of all, it is safe for your kitties! These beautiful flowers come in all different colors and varieties, and they are fine to have in reach of your cat.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Tulips
Nothing says spring like beautiful multicolored tulips, which is why it’s disappointing that they are dangerous to your cats. Luckily, tulips are everywhere, and if you have outdoor cats, you can still get some of these blooms to adorn your table or wall hangings. Even fake tulips can brighten up your indoor space without endangering indoor kitties!
Alternative Safe Plant: Freesia
To keep your pets safe and your mind stress-free, plant some freesias! These beautiful flowers have large, colorful blooming petals just like tulips do, and they can add some simple, elegant beauty to your yard.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Hyacinths
Hyacinths have beautiful vertical stalks covered in stunning florals. A little-known fact is that the flowers that are colloquially called “bluebells” are also a variety called grape hyacinths, which aren’t pet-safe either. If you would like to replace these plants, there aren’t very many direct swaps, but if you’re looking for a unique plant that has a similar shape, we have a swap you might like.
Alternative Safe Plant: Liatris
If you’re looking for another vertical plant with purple blooms, liatris can be a beautiful violet replacement for an area that doesn’t have very much allowance for a plant with a lot of width. We understand that this is not a direct swap, so again, feel free to do some more research on cat-safe plants that you might like more as a replacement for hyacinths.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Rhododendrons
Rhododendrons are bushy, blooming garden plants that can be hard to replace. We understand that, and we want your curious cats to come first, while also keeping your garden beautiful. You definitely already know about their replacement, but it’s good to know they’re kitty-safe!
Alternative Safe Plant: Roses
Yes, rose bushes are non-toxic for cats! Of course, you still want to be careful because of the thorns on rose bushes. It’s important to keep any rose bushes trimmed, and keep the trimmings in a safe yard waste bin away from where your cats are.
But if you find your kitties nibbling on some rose petals, there is no need for concern, unless they’re eating large amounts of the plant, at which point they can have some abdominal pain or skin irritation. At that point, you might want to discern why they’re eating plants so much.
Toxic Plant for Cats: Foxgloves
Foxgloves have such a fun, unique shape. Many gardeners like to include them to add some pizzazz to an otherwise “meh” garden. But be aware: eating foxgloves affects cats’ hearts! They can cause cardiac arrhythmias, which means their hearts will beat differently, which can lead to serious problems. It is so not worth it to have these cute plants in your yard if they are going to endanger your pets.
Alternative Safe Plant: Snapdragons
If you need to give up your foxgloves, a new plant that will provide an equal amount of distinctive qualities is snapdragons. This unusual option has fun blooms on all sides that have a similar tiered look to the quintessential foxgloves. Giving up your foxgloves doesn’t have to mean giving up on the fun. Snapdragons add some jazzy spunk to an otherwise dull environment, and they’ll make you glad you switched.
What if my cat already ate some of a toxic plant?
If you own any of these toxic plants and your cat already chewed on one or ate some, take your cat to the vet if possible. If you’re unable to take your cat at this moment, call your vet and tell them exactly what happened, including which plant it was and how much of it they ate, to talk about next steps.
Even if your feline friend only chewed on the plant and didn’t ingest any large pieces, that can be enough for them to have a serious reaction. Keep an eye out for any strange behavior, gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhea, drooling, or lethargy. These are all signs that your cat needs immediate medical attention. Remember, always better safe than sorry!
What if I don’t know which plants I have?
Sometimes you just buy a plant from the store because it’s cute, but then when issues like the safety of your animals come up, it can be scary thinking that you don’t know which plants you have. Googling doesn’t always help, because it’s hard to find your plant by searching "common houseplants with pink flowers."
The Picture This app is a reliable, free option where you simply take a picture of your plant, and you can find out what kind it is. This will help you keep your cats safe. If you don’t see your plant on this list, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Do your own research and make sure you swap out every plant that could cause your cats to have any issues. Their lives are much more important than a particular plant, especially with so many safe alternatives to choose from.
It is always sad to have to get rid of a plant you love, especially if you’ve spent a long time growing it. However, keeping your cats safe is of the utmost importance. Hopefully, this post has helped you think of some ways to keep your cats safe without feeling like you have to throw out or give away plants without a replacement.
Of course, these are not the only swaps available for each of these plants. You can do some research on your own to find fun alternatives that fit your taste more and get you excited about beautiful houseplants that will keep everyone in your household safe and sound.