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Are Poinsettias Poisonous To Cats – Everything You Need To Know

Are Poinsettias Poisonous To Cats – Everything You Need To Know

Are poinsettias poisonous to cats? Poinsettias are a traditional part of the holiday season. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry because this plant has the potential to make your cat ill. Find out more here.

Pet owners frequently express concern about purchasing a poinsettia plant during the holiday season because they believe they are poisonous to cats, but is this really the case?

 Poinsettias are toxic enough to make your cat slightly ill, but they are not fatal, claim the ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline.

Although poinsettias belong to a class of poisonous plants, both humans and animals are only moderately poisoned by them. The plant’s white sap can irritate the skin or the digestive system, but it would need to be consumed in extremely large amounts to be fatal.

Even though the taste is unpleasant, it is still advisable to take safety measures to keep these plants away from your cat or out of the house entirely.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous To Cats?

white cat sniffing a poinsettia plant

Poinsettias, which are commonly used during the holidays and have red leaves, are known to be toxic to cats.

The sap from these plants can cause irritation in a cat’s mouth and esophagus, leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling.

While it would take a large amount of poinsettias to cause serious harm to a cat, it is still recommended that cat owners avoid using these plants in their holiday decorations as a precaution.

These festive favorites in eye-catching red have a bad reputation among cat owners. The bad news is that cats are indeed poisoned by poinsettias. The sap from these festive plants’ leaves can irritate a cat’s mouth and esophagus.

Cats may become nauseous, throw up, have diarrhea, or drool excessively if ingested. The good news is that it would take a lot of poinsettias for a cat to become seriously ill.

Symptoms of Poinsettia Consumption

black and white cat stands next to poinsettia

Cats rarely consume enough poinsettia leaves to necessitate medical attention, but eating them can make them drool, vomit, or have diarrhea. However, some cats might be more sensitive and react in a more dramatic way.

If the skin comes into contact with the white sap, irritation, swelling, and redness could also develop, especially around the mouth. On rare occasions, conjunctivitis and swelling can result from liquid getting into the eye.

Cats should avoid poinsettias due to the potential side effects of consumption or contact.

How To Treat It?

cat sits on armchair and looks at christmas flower poinsettia

The majority of cats who consume a small amount of poinsettia leaves don’t need any medical attention, and only severe situations call for veterinary care. You ought to be able to care for your cat at home if the symptoms are minor and they’re getting better quickly.

If your cat throws up, wait a few hours before reintroducing food and water, along with bland liquids. Although itchy skin can be washed with soap and water, it eventually goes away on its own. To prevent your cat from chewing on the poinsettia again, remove it.

What To Look Out For?

The hype surrounding poinsettias has prevented people from being aware of other risks and more poisonous holiday plants, even though they may not be highly toxic for cats.

Due to their widespread appeal, poinsettias are frequently mass-produced at the end of the year. As a result, they are occasionally grown using harsh pesticides that, if consumed by your cat, can result in serious or fatal harm.

Other holiday plants, particularly lilies, holly, and mistletoe, are also riskier than poinsettias. Even the pollen from lilies is toxic to cats, and even a small amount consumed by your cat can cause kidney failure.

It probably isn’t worth it to have a poinsettia in your home this year if you have a curious or plant-loving cat and you can’t put it out of reach. You and your cat should have a lovely, safe holiday if you keep an eye out for poinsettias and other hazardous plants as you decorate.

Which Other Holiday Plants Are Toxic For Cats?

Beautiful red amaryllis flowers on table in room


The Amaryllis plant, which is commonly used during the holidays and has a similar appearance to the poinsettia plant, is also toxic to cats.

It is a member of the lily family, and any parts of the plant, including the bulb, leaves, stem, or flowers, can pose a danger if consumed by cats.

Lycorine, a substance found in amaryllis plants, can have negative effects on cats, including vomiting, diarrhea, and trembling.

Holiday Trees

Many people still favor purchasing a real tree for the holidays, even though artificial trees are becoming more and more popular. If you fall into this category and you have a cat, pick a fir or spruce tree rather than a pine tree.

Cats exposed to the oils from pine trees may suffer liver damage or even pass away. Pine needles, meanwhile, are pointy and can harm a cat’s internal organs if consumed, and they can also hurt their paws if they are stepped on.

To prevent your cat from drinking the water, cover the tree stand. It’s possible that pathogens and harmful bacteria are present in the water inside the plant stand.

Whichever tree you select, be mindful of the possibility of the tree falling over. Cats will often climb a tree to get a better look at decorations because they are so curious about them.

Use some fishing line to tie the tree to the wall or ceiling to prevent it from falling over and causing an accident. If not, consider placing the tree somewhere that can be locked so your cat can’t access it when you’re not home.


Another holiday plant that cat owners should never keep in their homes is the azalea, also known as the rhododendron or rosebay. Be alert, though, as they frequently show up in floral bouquets or holiday arrangements.

Grayanotoxin, a toxin found in azaleas, has harmful effects on a cat’s body’s sodium channels. Numerous symptoms, such as excessive drooling, loss of appetite, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and even cardiac failure, can be brought on by azalea toxicity.

Be aware that cats are poisoned by the azalea plant in all of its parts.


Lilies are yet another seasonal plant that cat owners should keep out of their homes. Unfortunately, cats can be poisoned by the entire plant and even the water in the vase, which can result in serious injury or even death.

 This plant can lead to arrhythmia or kidney failure in even small doses.

Holly & Mistletoe

Holly and mistletoe are not among the poisonous houseplants that come to mind when thinking of cats. After all, decorating the house with holly and cuddling up under the mistletoe wouldn’t feel like the holidays were complete without them.

However, it’s best to choose artificial holiday decorations if you have pets rather than taking a chance with these cat-unfriendly plants. Holly contains toxic chemicals that cats should avoid, and Holly can make you throw up, have diarrhea, have stomach pain, and drool if you eat it.

This berry-producing, the spiny-leaved plant should not be used to decorate your home during the holidays as it can be fatal to cats.

Similar to holly, don’t use mistletoe if you have cats, phoratoxins, and lectins found in mistletoe can have effects on the skin. Severe reactions, such as a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, breathing issues, seizures, and death, may happen in larger doses.

Toxicity To Cats And Dogs

jack russell dog with a red flower poinsettia.

Poinsettias are a common Christmas plant during the season. Despite their unfavorable reputation, cats and dogs can tolerate poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants in moderation.

Diterpenoid phorbol esters and saponin-like detergents are chemicals that can be found in the milky white sap of poinsettias. Although poinsettias are frequently “hyped” as poisonous plants, this is greatly overstating the extent of the poisoning.

When consumed, there may be slight drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea symptoms. Dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itching) may appear if the milky sap is in contact with the skin.

Rarely, exposure to the eyes can cause minor irritation. Unless they are severe and persistent, symptoms are typically self-limiting and don’t need medical attention.

Poinsettia poisoning has no known treatment option. Nevertheless, unless there are severe clinical signs, medical treatment is rarely required due to the low level of toxicity seen with poinsettia ingestion.

Common mild signs to watch for are eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, skin irritation, and licking lips.

Non-Toxic Plants For Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter And Kwanzaa

African violet flower saintpaulia in bloom on windowsill home

Owners of cats and dogs should keep poinsettias out of reach of their animals. If you are looking for alternative options to traditional holiday plants that are safe for pets, pine and other Christmas trees can be used to decorate your home, porch, or yard.

These trees do not pose a toxic risk to pets; however, it’s important to note that if cats and dogs consume any part of them, it may cause mouth irritation or stomach upset.

This year, make your tree pet-proof and install a gate to keep your pets safe. Despite being less toxic than European varieties, American mistletoe should still be kept out of reach of animals. The popular holiday plant known as the amaryllis is poisonous to both dogs and cats.

Another safe, non-toxic alternative to poinsettias to use during the holiday season consider using an African violet, Christmas cactus, Christmas orchid, Christmas dagger fern, or Christmas orchid as they are vibrantly colored, festive and non-toxic to pets.

You could also get fake greenery to use as decoration!

Watch out for any type of lily when decorating for Hanukkah, as they are extremely toxic to cats and can result in kidney failure or even death in them. Choose a bouquet of roses, blue or white orchids, or a succulent arrangement as an alternative.

When celebrating Kwanzaa by displaying a variety of fruits and vegetables such as bananas, oranges, or sweet potatoes, it’s important to check if they are safe for cats and dogs before setting them out to ensure the safety of your pets.

Are Poinsettias Poisonous To People?

Christmas Poinsettia

Poinsettia leaves are supposedly toxic enough to kill a small child, according to an urban legend that first surfaced in the early 1900s. Large amounts of poinsettia parts were once fed to rats by Ohio State University researchers, and no negative effects were noticed.

A 50-pound child would need to consume 500 leaves in order to repeat their experiment. (However, people with latex allergies should exercise caution when handling the plants to prevent a rash because they can be sensitive to the milky sap.)

However, it’s still best to prevent animals or kids from eating plants because the sap can irritate the skin and mildly upset the stomach. Don’t treat plants like poison ivy, but keep them out of children’s reach.

Fortunately, animals and kids will probably struggle to eat a lot of poinsettia leaves due to their terrible taste. In a related vein, holly and mistletoe are unquestionably poisonous to kids and animals, and they will cause nausea and diarrhea and can even be fatal in high doses.

Wrapping It Up

Are poinsettias poisonous to cats? Although poinsettias are not particularly toxic to cats, their milky white sap does contain saponin-like detergents and chemicals known as diterpenoid phorbol esters. 

These substances can upset the stomach and result in vomiting, drooling, or, less frequently, diarrhea if consumed.

Dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itching) may appear if the milky sap is in contact with the skin. Rarely, exposure to the eyes can cause mild conjunctivitis (pink eye from inflammation). Unless they are severe, symptoms are self-limiting and don’t need medical attention.

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