Many things can be toxic to pets, in general, and even more so to cats. This species is known for exhibiting poisoning symptoms after ingesting a wide variety of foods, but also pieces of plants, foreign bodies, and more.
As a responsible pet parent, you should always do a little research before deciding to buy houseplants or flowers. In today’s article, we’re looking at whether peonies pose any health threat to cats and what that is exactly.
Are peonies risky for cats?
The short answer to this question is yes. Unfortunately, peonies are among the most toxic flowers that animals can ingest, and in this case, at least, not only cats are sensitive to them.
Horses, dogs, and many other species are just as sensitive and can quickly develop several health complications, which we will go into more detail about in the sections below.
All of the plants in the Paeonia genus have a compound called paenol, which makes these flowers toxic.
Symptoms of peony poisoning in cats
The signs of peony toxicity can largely depend from one animal to the next and based on several factors, such as the cat’s health status in general and the exact amount of leaves or petals ingested.
Unfortunately, nibbling on peonies can have some rather serious health consequences on your feline friend’s well-being, such as the following:
- Difficulty breathing
- Oral inflammation
- Excessive salivation
- Changes in urination or defecation
- Increased appetite for water
Gastrointestinal distress is the most common clinical sign of ingesting parts of the peony plant, but there are cases where the cat might have eaten so much of the flower that they could even develop nervous symptoms such as lethargy, depression, tremors, or seizures.
In theory, at least, your cat’s condition should not get so severe as to cause death. However, we always advise taking your pet to the veterinary clinic immediately after you realize they’ve nibbled on a peony or two.
When it comes to peony poisoning cases in this species, anamnesis plays a special part in establishing a correct diagnosis.
Naturally, there are a number of procedures that the vet can do even if you do not know for sure what your cat ingested, but if you communicate to them exactly what your cat ingested, you’ll make their job a lot easier.
When you take your pet to the animal hospital, you can expect the veterinarian to first perform a physical examination and look at details such as whether your cat’s drooling, whether they are behaving normally, if they’re breathing and swallowing properly, as well as whether their pupils are dilated.
Flushing your cat’s stomach might be an option depending on how much time has passed since they’ve ingested part of the plant.
Antiemetics to deal with the vomiting or rather, the instinct to vomit continuously can also be administered. There are many other choices in terms of the symptoms that your cat is showing, but the primary goal of the vet team will be to make sure that your pet is first stabilized.
Depending on how severe their clinical manifestation is, your cat might have to be hospitalized for one or a few more days. In most cases, though, especially if you bring them to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible, you might be able to take them home in a few hours’ time after the treatment was initiated.
Your vet will give you some valuable guidance as to what you are supposed to do in the following days to make your cat feel as comfortable as possible. Fortunately, even though peonies are indeed toxic to cats and other animals, very few cases where the patients lose their life have been recorded in the past.
Preventing paeonol poisoning in cats
The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to keeping flowers in your home or in your garden is to always pick species that are safe for your cat.
There are many that can cause various health problems, including succulents, for example, and the outcome from ingesting some of those plants might not be as easy to manage as it could be if your cat nibbled on a peony – even in the most challenging of cases.
While the best way of going about things would be to keep your pet away from such plants at all times, it could be that you can’t control your cat’s movements outside, for example. If they keep getting into your neighbor’s garden, you may need to resort to alternative solutions, such as using repellent products around that area.
The majority of cats have some type of interest in new things, so getting them used to safe plants even from when they are very young might curb their enthusiasm later on. Besides, even if your cat loves to eat plants, you can provide them with safer choices such as catnip or cat grass (barley or oat).