Ask the Vet: Toxic Holiday Plants

Are your pets safe around these plants?

Grey tabby cat on a sofa stares at a Christmas poinsettia
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock

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Question: Our daughter-in-law, who owns a garden center, wants to give us poinsettias this holiday. Are they safe for our cats?

Answer: Accept the gift without worry. Many Christmas plants, including the poinsettia and Christmas cactus, are reasonably safe around pets; if cats ingest the plants, they may develop mild vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort — problems that usually resolve on their own. If cats nibble an amaryllis, they may experience these difficulties plus tremors. The most toxic holiday plant is the lily, so don’t allow any in your home. If your cat chews a lily leaf or flower, she could develop life-threatening kidney failure.

Ask the Vet is written by veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to [email protected] and read more at

This article is featured in the November/December 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock

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