Are Orchids Poisonous To Cats?

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Potted plants can elevate a room, adding color and liveliness while creating an inviting atmosphere. Orchids, in particular, are one of the oldest flowers in existence and have striking blooms that many adore. 

However, as pet parents who want the best for their loyal companions, it’s hard not to question whether the plants we wish to bring home will pose a threat to their health, especially if you own a curious cat that likes to paw around at anything new. You may be wondering, “Are orchids poisonous to cats?”

Luckily, orchids are safe for cats. In this blog post, we will take a look at what to do if your cat eats an orchid, how to keep your cat away from plants, what plants are toxic to cats, and more. If there is a specific section that interests you, feel free to jump directly to it using the links below. 

Are All Orchids Safe For Cats?

Are orchids safe for cats? Yes. But are all orchids safe for cats?

All orchids are non-toxic to cats

Orchids are one of the most popular houseplants and for good reason. Not only are they fascinating and almost alien-like in appearance, but they are also hypoallergenic due to their non-airborne pollen.1 In addition, the Orchidaceae is one of the largest families of flowering plants, with more than 25,000 documented species on every continent except Antarctica.1 Despite how many types of orchids there are, all orchids are safe for cats. Some of the most popular orchids include:

  • Cattleya, also known as corsage orchids
  • Phalaenopsis, also known as moth orchids
  • Cymbidium, also known as boat orchids
  • Tiger orchids
  • Masdevallia, also known as flag orchids
  • Dendrobium orchids 

What To Do If Your Cat Eats An Orchid

While orchids are safe for your cat to be around, they can still cause issues if your cat decides to take a bite, so it’s best to keep them out of reach. A cat eating any part of an orchid puts them at risk of gastrointestinal upset, but depending on how much they ate, they will likely not experience any severe symptoms. If your cat takes a few small chunks out of your orchid, monitor for these symptoms of an upset stomach:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Drinking less water
  • Excess licking of lips
  • Changes in mood
  • Lethargy
  • Gagging

If you see an entire bulb missing from your orchid, however, you may have more to worry about. The large amount of orchid your cat ingested could result in a bowel obstruction, which is an emergency, life-threatening condition. Not only does it block fluids and solids from passing through the gastrointestinal tract, but it could also cause deterioration in certain parts of the bowels. Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible as they may need surgical intervention to remove the plant material blocking their stomach and intestines.2 

Orchids are non-toxic to cats, but if your orchid has been treated with any chemicals, including fertilizers and insecticides, it may no longer be cat-friendly. If you need to give your orchid an extra boost, remember to use pet-safe products. 

How To Keep Your Cat Away From Plants

Cats are curious little creatures, and sometimes, they just can’t seem to leave your plants alone. Whether it’s clawing at their leaves or digging the dirt up in their pots, don’t be surprised if you come home to see your plant with a new makeover. This feline propensity can make for difficult clean up, and it could even put your cat in harm’s way. To ensure the safety of both your cat and your plants, here are some ways to keep your cat away from plants. 

Put Your Plants Somewhere Inaccessible

The easiest way to keep your cat away from plants is to put them somewhere your cat can’t get to. High, hard-to-reach shelves can be a good choice, depending on how athletic your cat is. Unfortunately, this can have the potential to backfire as some cats may see it as a challenge, knocking over more items as they parkour through the house.

Other than high places, there are also more decorative, out-of-the-box opportunities. Fish tanks, bird cages, macrame hangers are great ways to store your plants and keep them out of the way. Your cat may stare at a recently moved plant longingly for a few days, but they will quickly forget about their existence, especially if you redirect their attention with playtime and treats. 

Train Your Cat To Leave Plants Alone

This next method requires a bit more patience and understanding but can be extremely rewarding. Training your cat to leave plants alone gets to the root of the problem. 

When you catch your cat playing with a plant, distract them by calling them to you or picking them up gently and moving them to a different room. Wait for a few moments and redirect their attention to something fun like their favorite cat wand or a feeding puzzle. Feeling content and rewarded, your cat will forget about what they were planning to do with the plant to begin with. This is especially useful if your cat is just messing around with plants due to boredom. Remember, with diligence and enough positive reinforcement, cats can be trained just as easily as dogs. 

Protect Your Plants

Protecting your plants is a fast way to resolve this issue. Your plan of attack will depend on what your cat prefers to do. If they like digging in pots or even defecating in them instead of their litter box, place weighty pebbles densely on the surface of the dirt. This will make it much harder for them to get to what they want. 

If your cat is more interested in your plant’s leaves or flowers, on the other hand, you may want to make a spray mixture that will deter them. Hot pepper spray works as a natural repellant, and cats also strongly dislike the smell of citrus. Make your own spray by mixing a bit of lemon, lime, or orange juice with some water. However, while this method may be successful, keep in mind that the smell of your spray mixture cannot be perfectly contained on the surface of your plant. It may waft through the air, putting your cat off of the entire room. 

Common Plants Toxic To Cats

Common plants toxic to cats

Are orchids toxic to cats? The answer is a very clear no, but there are many other plants that can cause harm to your feline friend. Sadly, some of the flowers we are most familiar with are dangerous to cats. Some toxic plants include:

  • Lily: Lilies are one of the most poisonous plants for cats. From Easter lilies to tiger lilies, these plants can induce severe toxicosis and cause acute kidney failure in cats. Anything from licking lily pollen from their paws to biting a piece of the petal can be lethal. In a study of 48 households conducted by the Animal Poison Control Center, 72 percent did not know that lilies are toxic to cats.3 
  • Daffodil: Ingesting daffodil can cause lethargy and vomiting in cats along with a dangerously low body temperature, slow heart rate, and low blood pressure. Tremors and convulsions are another symptom. The bulbs of daffodils are the most dangerous part.4 
  • Azalea: The toxic compounds in azaleas are called grayanotoxins. They affect the muscles, especially the muscle tissues of the heart, causing an abnormally slow heart rate, which can lead to heart failure.5 
  • Tulip: Tulips are actually a part of the lily family, making them toxic to cats. The stems, petals, bulbs, and leaves of tulips are all considered to be poisonous due to their alkaloid and glycoside compounds. Tulips can cause vomiting, hypersalivation, and diarrhea in cats in small doses but result in convulsions and even induce comas in larger quantities. 
  • Aloe: While Aloe vera has many benefits for humans, it is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Symptoms of aloe poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.
  • Iris: Also known as snake lily or water flag, irises can cause skin irritation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and mouth ulcers in cats. All parts of the plant are toxic to cats. 
  • Primrose: Compared to all the above mentioned plants, primroses are comparatively less toxic to cats, with primrose poisoning’s most severe clinical sign being vomiting and general gastrointestinal upset.
  • Morning glory: Ingesting morning glory seeds can cause hallucinations in cats, but overall, they are mildly poisonous. Cats that eat other parts of this plant will likely only vomit.  

Common Cat-Friendly Plants

Common cat-friendly plants

Don’t feel discouraged after learning about all the plants toxic to cats. There are also many cat-friendly plants that you can still use to decorate your space. Some common plants safe for cats include:

  • Hibiscus
  • Spider plant
  • Rose
  • Sunflower
  • Ponytail palm
  • Marigold
  • Polka dot plant
  • African violet

Are Orchids Poisonous To Cats?: FAQs

Are moth orchids safe for cats?

Luckily, all types of orchids are safe for cats, so moth orchids are non-toxic as well. Native to Southeast Asia, moth orchids are very easy to care for. They do not need soil to grow and their blooms last for months. They are a very good choice for families that have cats. Just remember to keep your cat away from your moth orchid if they like to bite and paw at plants.

Can I spray my plants with lemon juice?

Yes, you can spray your plants with lemon juice to deter cats. However, take note to dilute the lemon juice with some water, so you don’t compromise the growth of your plants. 

Cat sniffing orchid plant

Final Notes

Orchids are beautiful flowers that can bring color and liveliness to any room. They are also non-toxic to cats and dogs, making them the perfect decor pet-loving households. If you want to get a more comprehensive list of non-toxic plants for cats or better understand how proper cat nutrition can safeguard the health and well-being of your feline friend, consult a Dutch vet today. Dutch is an online vet service that provides prompt, high quality care whenever you need. When your pet is feeling down, get them personalized treatment from the comfort of their own home. 

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References

  1. "orchid." Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/plant/orchid.

  2. Gibson, Thomas W.G. "Gastrointestinal Obstruction in Small Animals." Merck Veterinary Manual, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/diseases-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-small-animals/gastrointestinal-obstruction-in-small-animals.

  3. Slater, Margaret R and Gwanltney-Brant, Sharon. "Exposure circumstances and outcomes of 48 households with 57 cats exposed to toxic lily species." Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, https://meridian.allenpress.com/jaaha/article-abstract/47/6/386/176414/Exposure-Circumstances-and-Outcomes-of-48?redirectedFrom=fulltext.

  4. Saxon-Buri, Sharon. "Daffodil toxicosis in an adult cat." The Canadian Veterinary Journal, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC548613/.

  5. Jansen, Suze A. et al. "Grayanotoxin Poisoning: ‘Mad Honey Disease’ and Beyond." Cardiovascular Toxicology, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404272/.

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