Are Peonies Poisonous To Cats? Ways To Keep Cats Away From Toxic Plants

Martha Martins
Oct 24, 2023 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Nov 08, 2021
Read this amazing article on are peonies poisonous to cats.

There are around 391,000 species of plants out of which a few species can poison cats.

Cats are curious little creatures that love to nibble on things, but they are also cautious. Some plants, even when ingested in small amounts, can have a significant effect on the health of your pet cat.

The peony is one such plant that is known for its poisoning effects on cats and other pets. The peony belongs to the Paeonia genus and Paeoniaceae family.

It is a popular garden plant. Humans use peonies for multiple reasons, especially to treat cough and other respiratory illnesses. This flower is also used in herbal medicine for polycystic ovary syndrome and ovarian cysts.

It provides a wide range of benefits to humans but is mostly avoided in households with pets due to its toxicity. The Peony is one plant that can be very dangerous to a cat. Since peony flowers are more common in spring, it is better to keep your cat indoors during this season.

Did you know a particular variety of peony, Paeonia lactiflora Chinese peony, is used in Chinese medicine. It is used as a medicine for rheumatoid arthritis.

Continue reading to know more about peony plants. Once you have finished this article, check out our other articles on Russian blue facts and are snake plants toxic to cats.

Why are peonies not safe for cats?

Peonies are flowering plants that are mainly found in Asia. There are around 33 recognized species of peonies.

These plants are some of the most admired garden plants. You are likely to come across these colorful plants in late spring and early summer.

Their flowers come in a range of colors, including pink, white and red. Vibrant colors easily grab the attention of cats and dogs. They are often tempted to eat this flower.

The extreme temptation to munch on vegetation can be fatal and has a serious impact on their health. The peony plant contains the toxin paeonol and over 262 other components, including steroids. Experts state that the level of paeonol is less in flowers and is mostly concentrated in the barks.

Luckily, cats are not a fan of stems or barks. All parts, including the leaves, flowers, barks, and seeds, are toxic to cats.

Did you know, peonies and pets don't get along well? For a lot of animals including cattle, horses, and cows as well as pets such as cats and dogs, peonies are toxic.

What happens if cats eat peonies?

The toxin in a peony plant is heavily concentrated in the bark. When ingested in large amounts, it can cause a series of effects on the cat's body. It can cause gastrointestinal distress for example, vomiting and diarrhea.

Regardless of the amount consumed, take your cat to a veterinarian immediately. Paeonol poisoning can be very dangerous.

There are many signs and symptoms to look out for. Cats exhibit certain signs when they consume a toxic element, based on the level of toxicity. Some plants toxic to cats cause the following reactions:

Drooling: Cats drool only for a few reasons and it is not common for a cat to drool. This is the first sign to look out for. This happens as the toxin is not digested and parts of the plant are stuck in the esophagus.

Vomiting: Vomiting might be common due to infections, diabetes, or consumption of something poisonous. It is better to take your cat to a veterinary clinic when it pukes, as all the health issues related to this symptom need medical attention.

Diarrhea: Since paeonol is highly toxic to cats when ingested in large amounts, it is likely to cause inflammation or irritation of the intestines.

Depression: Cats can be depressed when they have ingested toxins. This is due to the inflammation in the stomach regions. This causes pain, resulting in loss of appetite. 'Good food is good mood' applies not only to humans but also to cats.

Other symptoms when they have ingested large amounts of any toxin include seizures, coughing, breathing difficulties, abdominal pain, skin irritation, irregular heartbeat, fever, and overall weakness. Cats are very cautious and picky.

This is why they mostly avoid eating something that is not in their regular diet. Even if they give in to the momentary temptation, consumption is not in large quantities due to the bitter taste.

Cats adore the scent of some flowers.

What other plants are toxic to cats?

A few other plants that are toxic to cats include:

Lillies: All parts of lily plants are poisonous to cats. Lilies, even in small amounts, can cause major issues.

Cats have the habit of licking their fur when some disturbing particle is attached to it. So having lilies in areas where your cat often takes a stroll can also become life threatening.

Drinking water from a lily vase is as toxic as eating any part of the plant. Your cats might have the above mentioned symptoms and have kidney failure within three days if you don't seek proper veterinary advice.

Tulips: These plants belong to the lily family. They have several toxins such as glycosides, tuliposide A or tulipalin A in the bulbs of tulip plants. These toxins hinder the production of proteins.

When enough protein is not synthesized in a cat's body, the body breaks down and converts its own muscles into proteins and amino acids to balance the production. All parts of the plant are poisonous to cats, with the bulbs being the most poisonous part due to highly concentrated toxins in the area.

Chewing a small part of the plant can also cause irritation in the mucous membranes and disturb the esophagus. So they drool right away. Other symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting mucus.

Roses: The sweet scent is one of the major problems with the flowers of these plants. They never fail to attract cats, which turns out to be a fatal incident for them. The flower or plant in itself is not toxic to cats.

The thorns and pesticides make this plant dangerous. Consumption in large amounts might cause bowel obstruction.

Roses are often confused with other plants that have rose in their names like Christmas rose, primrose, and moss rose. Watch out for these. Unlike real roses, they are highly poisonous.

Crocus: The autumn crocus is a poisonous plant. It can create a lot of adverse reactions in cats. The flowers and seeds have high concentrations of toxic alkaloids.

Colchicine is the primary toxin. It works by latching on to the tubulin protein and disrupts the functions carried out by cells, preventing mitosis. It is also toxic to dogs and all other animals.

Amarlysis: These plants are often given as gifts and are used in house decoration because of their extremely attractive flowers. The plant has lycorine, a poisoning agent, that immediately causes several reactions like vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. Daffodils are very similar to amaryllis. Daffodils contain the same poisoning compound, lycorine which causes severe irritation in tissues.

Cyclamen: Cyclamen is yet another plant that is poisonous to both cats and dogs. The severity of poisoning can vary depending on the amount of plant matter consumed. All parts of the plants have saponins.

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera causes mild poisoning in cats due to saponins like glycosides, anthracene, and anthraquinones.

What flowers are safe for cats?

Unlike peonies, there are several flowers that are not poisonous to your pet cat.

Some non-toxic flowers that are safe for your pet cat are sunflowers, orchids, African violets, snapdragons, garden marigolds, pansies, petunias, zinnias, gerbera daisies, Christmas cactus, Liatris, lisianthus asters, and freesias. Roses are also safe if they are free of pesticides.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Are peonies poisonous to cats?

Ways to keep cats away from toxic plants, then why not take a look at Are hammerhead sharks dangerous? Interesting facts on ocean predators, or Are hippos carnivores? Delving deep into their meat eating habits facts pages.

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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