9 Plants Toxic to Cats · The Wildest

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9 Plants Toxic to Cats

These plants might be beautiful, but they’re deadly to feline foragers

by Jackie Brown
31 October 2023
cat sniffing a plant

Before you made the (best ever) decision to become a cat parent, you may have been one of countless people who eased into parenting by trying to keep a fiddle-leaf fig alive. If you succeeded, you might want to sit down to hear this: much of your urban jungle may have to be rehomed. Even though cats are carnivores, they enjoy nibbling on plants and flowers from time to time, many of which are toxic to them.

Moving your plants out of reach would work... if your cat was a dog. If this feels like picking a favourite kid, you could try supervising your cat in the company of your plants 24/7 (remember, they are nocturnal), but it’s probably not worth the risk – plus, there are plenty of green thumbs who would love to adopt them. Below, a record of flora’s worst offenders (to cats and dogs, if you’re a multi-species household).

Autumn crocus

This autumn-blooming plant is extremely toxic to not only cats, but people, too. It’s not a common houseplant, so it only poses a risk if you have an outdoor cat. It’s also referred to as ‘meadow saffron or ‘naked ladies.


Lilies are beautiful and smell amazing, but it’s ironic that the flower that symbolises rebirth can also spell death to your cat. All it takes is a lick of the water in a lily vase to cause irreversible kidney failure. At the risk of sounding alarmist, uninformed cat parents often don’t know what the culprit is until it’s too late – so it’s better to keep these out of the house altogether.


Historically, gifting someone with azaleas in a black vase is a not-so-thinly-veiled death threat (their nectar and leaves are deadly). Need we say more?


Small bites of this common houseplant, often labeled Persian violet, can induce vomiting. But in large quantities, especially of the tubers or roots, cyclamen can cause seizures and even death. 

Daffodils and tulips

Don’t be fooled by daffodil symbolism (hope, luck, prosperity, joy). The flowers and leaves of flowers in the narcissus and tulipa genuses can make cats sleepy and wobbly, but the bulbs are poisonous and can lead to respiratory distress, heart irregularities and depression. 

Ficus, aka fiddle-leaf fig

If ingested, ficus foliage causes drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration – all precursors to kidney failure.


Oleander is so deadly that Meryl Streep starred in a movie about it. From the laundry list of clinical signs, heart arrhythmia, seizures and shock should be all you need to hear to steer you cat clear.


Dieffenbachia , akak ‘dumb cane, might not kill your cat, but it will burn their mouth, causing difficulty swallowing, choking symptoms and ultimately organ damage.

If your cat has ingested any of the above, see a vet ASAP. Check out Cats Protection's list of toxic plants and flowers.

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown lives in sunny Orange County, CA, where she works as a freelance writer and editor. When she’s not on deadline, you can find her paddling her outrigger canoe in the Pacific Ocean or hiking in the foothills with her miniature poodle and two young boys.

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