Poinsettias Harmful, But Not Deadly To Cats

The ASPCA says cat owners can keep the flowers inside this season, but out of the cat's reach.

Posted: December 20 2007 2 a.m. EDT

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Poinsettias Harmful, But Not Deadly To Cats

Although poinsettias are not deadly to kittens or cats, experts suggest keeping the plants away from pets.

The widely held rumor that poinsettias are toxic to cats and dogs is greatly exaggerated, according to toxicologists at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. Experts at the center say that cats and dogs that eat the plants experience only mild reactions.

“In reality, ingestions typically produce only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation in pets, which may include drooling, vomiting and diarrhea,” Dana B. Farbman, a toxicologist with the ASPCA, said. Farbman recommended keeping the plants out of reach of cats and dogs, but said it need not be banished from pet owners’ homes.

Poinsettias first entered the United States in the early 1820s, when the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, J. Robert Poinsett, brought one into the country. Rumors of the plant’s toxicity started when a 2-year-old child allegedly died from eating a poinsettia leaf.

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Reader Comments

Nadine    Jamaica, NY

12/27/2013 1:27:13 PM

Hi, I had gotten some poinsettias for the first time and 2 days after my cat started having diarrhea and vomiting. I could figure out what the problem is until I went online and read the different articles. My cat seems ok but she just not eating like she usually does. Im keeping an eye on her and hopefully she gets back to her normal self because I hate seeing her so quite.

jenni    kansas city, MO

12/24/2011 4:37:23 PM

I'm consulting this website because I bought one for my neighbor and trimmed off some excess leaves of the flower and the leaves and then walked the plant over to her. One of my cats has eaten both leaves and flowers and I'm now waiting to see which one and how they fare. I guess I will report back later. Glad to know not fatal!! But it is Christmas Eve. This is not a merry Christmas!

Sheryl    Bloomington, IN

7/30/2008 2:35:52 AM

Good info to know - a real vote for fake poinsettias!

kymmi    new london, OH

12/23/2007 11:47:38 AM

wow i had nooooooooo idea

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