The lush appearance of the blooming hydrangea flowers can be a beauty to behold. They come in different colors including red, white, pink, purple, and blue. While you cannot deny their beauty, knowing whether or not hydrangeas are poisonous to cats and other pets is invaluable.
Although hydrangeas present several health risks to your pets, you need to understand the effects they have on them and what’s likely to happen if your cat ingests a large amount of these beautiful flowers.
So, are hydrangeas poisonous to cats?
Yes, hydrangeas are poisonous to cats, but only if ingested in large amounts. The leaves, flowers, and buds of hydrangea contain a cyanogenic glycoside chemical called amygdalin, which is non-toxic in its natural form but produces toxic cyanide once metabolized in the cat’s body.
The highest concentration of amygdalin is found in flowers and young leaves. Common side effects of hydrangeas consumption in cats include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, depression, and confusion.
Which part of hydrangea is poisonous?
The poisonous parts of hydrangea include the leaves, flowers, buds, and bark. These parts contain a naturally non-toxic amygdalin which produces toxic cyanide once it’s metabolized. The most poisonous parts include the flowers and young leaves.
Symptoms of hydrangea poisoning in cats
The most notable symptoms of hydrangea poisoning in cats include:
- Dermatitis (in hypersensitive cats)
- Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
Lethargy, depression, confusion, dermatitis, and dyspnea only happen in severe cases. You should seek immediate veterinary assistance if you notice any of these symptoms.
Can hydrangeas kill cats?
Although hydrangeas are poisonous to pets, it’s highly unlikely to kill a cat. Hydrangea poisoning is dose-dependent, which means a cat has to ingest a large amount to show severe side effects. However, smaller cat breeds are at a higher risk of severe hydrangea poisoning than their larger counterparts.
What to do if your cat eats hydrangea
You should take your cat to see a veterinarian if she ingests any part of hydrangea. It’s advisable to take a sample or clipping of the plant with you, including its leaves and flowers to make it easy for your veterinarian to identify the plant and choose the appropriate medication.
In the event you didn’t actually see your cat eating hydrangea, informing your vet of the kind of indoor and outdoor plants and herbs you keep will be important. Hydrangea poisoning can also mimic other conditions and will likely require your vet to run additional tests, including bloodwork and urine tests to identify the actual cause of the symptoms your pet is presenting.
Make sure to follow all recommendations by your veterinarian to ensure your furry friend gets back to good health.
Treatment of hydrangea poisoning in cats
The appropriate treatment for hydrangea poisoning in cats depends on factors such as age, health & size of the cat as well as the severity of the symptoms. Inducing vomiting is the ideal treatment if 30 minutes haven’t elapsed since the cat ingested hydrangea.
Severe cases will likely need hospitalization along with intravenous fluid therapy to aid in flushing out the toxins and keep the cat hydrated, especially after severe vomiting and/or diarrhea. In some cases, your veterinarian may also prescribe medications for treating gastrointestinal complications.
How to avoid hydrangea poisoning in cats
The most effective way of preventing hydrangea poisoning is to avoid keeping the plant where cats can easily reach. You can keep the plant at a height your cat cannot reach and always get rid of leaves and flowers that fall off the plant as soon as you can.
Alternatively, you can cover the plant with netting to limit your pet’s access to it. Keeping the plant in a secluded room that your cats cannot access is another effective strategy to prevent hydrangea poisoning.
So, are hydrangeas safe for cats?
Hydrangeas are not entirely safe for cats but not very toxic either. Cats only suffer from hydrangea poisoning if they ingest the flowers, leaves, buds, or bark of the plant in large quantities. Either way, keep the plant in a place your cat cannot access or reach.
Cat-safe alternatives to hydrangeas
If you’re looking for cat-safe alternatives to hydrangeas, here are a few choices to consider:
- African violets
- Black haw
- Tiger orchid
- Pansy orchid
- Camellia (common or mountain)
- Burro’s tail
- Snapdragons (common or withered)
Although hydrangeas can make your indoor garden beautiful, you need to consider the risk they pose on cats and other pets. According to ASPCA, the plant is toxic not only to cats but also to dogs and horses.