Are Poinsettias Poisonous to Cats?

When I was out shopping this weekend, I noticed that poinsettia season has begun in stores in Japan. (Sales of Christmas-related things seem to start earlier and earlier every year. Hallowe’en hasn’t even happened yet!) That reminded me of a topic that was covered on the Angels with Fur mailing list in December 2003: Are poinsettias poisonous to cats?

Poinsettia

While some of the members thought that they were, the consensus was that they are not necessarily toxic, but they can be “highly irritating to the gastrointestinal tract” (see: My Cat Ate a Poinsettia, Now What?). The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supports this position, as you can see in the Toxicology Brief they published in the November 2000 issue of Veterinary Technician (p.630) entitled Tis the Season to Be Informed: Toxic Potential of Holiday Plants (pdf). In the brief, the ASPCA suggests that your cat may exhibit “gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, including hypersalivation, vomiting, and diarrhea” after ingesting a poinsettia, but that you may be able to reduce the seriousness of the symptoms by giving the cat water or milk.

If your cat eats poinsettia leaves, keep a close eye on her and perhaps try to feed her some milk or water. If you are worried about her condition, take her to your vet to be sure that she is okay.

(Angels with Fur is not associated with any veterinarians, so the advice presented in this post should not be taken as official medical advice for your pet. Please consult your veterinarian if you have any questions regarding the content of this site.)

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