If your cat will be sharing a home with a poinsettia for the holidays, you might need to find ways to separate them for the safety of them both. Although poinsettias are considered poisonous to cats, their danger is often exaggerated since they’re only mildly toxic. With prickly claws and razor-sharp teeth, your cat might actually pose a more menacing threat to the poinsettia! However, you probably still want to keep them away just to be safe. Here are some tips on how to do that, but first…
Are Poinsettias Toxic to Cats?
An irritating white sap contained in the leaves renders the poinsettia plant mildly toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. However, poinsettias will usually only cause stomach upset and mouth irritation. Ingesting a poinsettia leaf might cause your cat to vomit, but you probably won’t have to take them to the vet. Of course, you should always take your cat to the vet if they’re experiencing extreme lethargy, vomiting, or having other GI issues such as not eating for longer than a couple of days.
Poinsettias are actually one of the least toxic houseplants that are popular in December. Other seasonal plants such as mistletoe, holly, amaryllis, and some species of pine trees are highly toxic. Additionally, pine trees aren’t good choices for cat-friendly Christmas trees because the prickly needles can puncture their intestines if swallowed. These should be replaced by artificial variations if you want the aesthetic, or by an alternative plant that’s more cat-friendly such as a fir or spruce. You can always check the ASPCA’s extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants before you bring home something new to make sure it’s safe.
6 Ways to Keep Your Cat Out of the Poinsettias
Even though poinsettias are only mildly toxic to cats, you probably still don’t want your cat eating one. If it does cause your cat to vomit, no one likes cleaning that up. And if it doesn’t cause your cat to have any symptoms, eating a poinsettia can ruin the plant’s visual appeal. Regardless of the situation, here are some tips to keep your cat away from your poinsettias.
1. Keep Them Out of Your Kitty’s Reach
You might try displaying the poinsettias on a high shelf. Of course, cats are naturally curious creatures, so this could actually encourage them to go take a sniff. Try to find a place without easy access, such as a mantle. Don’t put the poinsettia on the counter when there’s an open bar stool that your cat can simply hop on.
2. Separate Your Cat and Your Plants
If your cat has restricted access to certain areas of your house, you can put your poinsettias in there. We don’t recommend growing any super toxic plants in your house at all, even if it’s in a separate room. There’s always a chance your cat could sneak in. But poinsettias should be safe, especially if you’re just keeping them during the holiday season.
3. Spritz Some Cat-Deterrent Spray Around the Plant
You might try spraying some lemon juice or commercial cat deterrent around your poinsettia. Always spray the pot or the surrounding surface, though, since certain sprays might harm the plant itself.
4. Spread Lemon or Orange Peels Around the Pot
Scatter your leftover citrus rinds around your plant for natural protection. Cats don’t like the smell of citrus, so it may be just enough to deter them from going near the plant. Or you can place whole lemons and oranges beside the plant to double as festive decorations.
5. Sprinkle Cayenne Pepper Around the Plant
Cats don’t typically like the smell of cayenne pepper, either. If you sprinkle some ground cayenne pepper around the pot, they may decide to let the plant be.
6. Plant Something Else They Can Play With
Cat grass and catnip are both plants that your cat will go crazy for. They’re completely safe and enjoyable for your pet. Having alternative plants that are okay to play with can distract your cat from the ones that aren’t. A word of caution: If you’re planting catnip or cat grass from seed, make sure you keep it out of your kitty’s reach until the plants have sprouted and matured. Some cats can mistake a container of potting soil for a perfect indoor litter box. Others might think the dirt is a fun medium to sink their claws into and scatter it everywhere.
What to Do If Your Cat Ingests a Poinsettia
If your cat eats part of a poinsettia plant, keep a close eye on them. Although they might experience a little GI upset, you probably won’t need to take them to the vet. Watch out for excessive vomiting or diarrhea, loss of appetite, or extreme lethargy. If your cat displays any of these symptoms, take them to the vet to be safe.
Usually cats and houseplants don’t mix, but poinsettias can be a good alternative to more toxic holiday favorites such as mistletoe and holly berries. Your cat might experience mild indigestion and mouth irritation if they eat a poinsettia. However, it’s usually nothing major, and hopefully these tips will help keep your cat away from the poinsettia plant in the first place. If you don’t want to take any risks, it’s probably better to buy artificial flowers or decorate with seasonal plants that don’t pose any known dangers, such as a miniature spruce.
Featured Image Credit: sandid, Pixabay