Dangerous Holiday Decorations and Plants

This week we share which holiday decorations and plants are a serious danger to your cat, and also the signs and symptoms to look out for.

With the holiday season here it is important to remember that some decorative plants can be toxic to our feline friends. And while chewing on the Christmas tree is not recommended, as it can cause stomach upset or actual obstruction if many needles are consumed; the list below contains the major holiday decorations to watch out for.

Lilies
All parts of the plant, including the pollen, are toxic and will result in severe kidney failure. As little as 1-2 leaves or petals, a few pieces of pollen, or drinking the vase water can cause damage to the kidneys. Clinical signs can be depression, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Even if no clinical signs are seen, if you suspect your cat may have eaten a part of a lily it should be brought to the hospital immediately. Therapy must be initiated within 18 hours of ingestion to try and prevent grave kidney complications.
 
Amaryllis
All parts of this plant can be toxic and can cause vomiting, drooling, hypotension (drop in blood pressure) and respiratory depression.
 
Holly and Mistletoe
The spiny leaves and toxic substances in Christmas or English Holly can result in severe gastrointestinal upset. If ingested most cats lip smack, drool, or head shake, due to injury from the spiny leaves. Ingestion of small amounts of mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset, however if larger amounts are ingested this can cause ataxia (walking drunk), seizures, and collapse.
 
Poinsettias
While these are often reported as being very dangerous, they actually are only mildly toxic to cats and can occasionally cause vomiting if the sap from the plant is ingested.
 
Tinsel
Tinsel is sparkly and can be enticing as a toy for your cat. However, when ingested it can get stuck around the tongue or lodged in the stomach making it impossible to continue moving through the intestines. As the intestines do their normal function of contracting the tinsel can get lodged further and slowly cut through tissue causing severe intestinal damage. Therefore it’s best not to have tinsel on the tree as well as keeping yarn, bows, and ribbon safely stowed away.
 
Liquid Potpourri
These often contain detergents and oils that can cause severe chemical burns if ingested as well as respiratory complications.
If any of these are ingested by your cat it is recommended to call us immediately so we can provide helpful information and instructions towards keeping your cat safe during the holiday season.