Orchids and Cats: A Toxicity Inquiry

Kitties are known to nibble at your houseplants. This habit can cause more than frustration. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, plants are one of the top pet toxins.

It’s good to know that many orchids are not toxic to dogs or cats.

Cats are not toxic to most orchids
Orchidaceae is a family of over 25,000 different species. There are no reports of cats being poisoned by any species. However, there’s a possibility that a hybrid or unusual species could be dangerous.

The lady’s slipper (Cypripedium species) is known to cause mild skin irritation in humans. It’s well known that lady’s slipper orchids (Cypripedium et al.) can cause mild irritation to the skin in humans.

Nontoxic but still problematic
You don’t want to see your cat eating them on a regular basis, even though they are not toxic to cats. This will ruin the beauty of these beautiful plants and is bad for cats who are obligate carnivores. Cats can get upset stomachs and vomit if they eat any part of an orchid or another plant.

It is impossible to know what products suppliers use on their orchids. If your cat is fond of potting soil it could be contaminated with toxic chemicals. If you are unsure, repot the orchid in a new potting medium with a pet-safe organic fertiliser, like fish emulsion.

WARNING

Monitor your cat closely if you suspect that your orchid has many missing leaves or petals. They should recover within 24 hours if they are showing signs of vomiting or gastrointestinal upset. If the vomiting is severe or persistent, or accompanied by other worrying symptoms (such a difficulty breathing, seizures or an unsteady gait), you should contact your veterinarian immediately. It is important to contact your vet if you suspect that your pet may have eaten a plant toxic to cats.

Why are cats attracted to orchids?
Plant-eating is common among domestic cats. Experts hypothesized that this behavior occurs when cats are feeling unwell and wish to vomit. Studies suggest that it’s not usually caused by stomach upsets, but rather an instinctive behavior.

Orchids can be eaten by cats for fun, to relieve stress or boredom, or simply because they smell good.

How to prevent your cat from eating your orchids
It’s about managing and meeting the underlying needs if you don’t wish to see your beloved orchid or other carefully curated plants destroyed by your cat. Here are a few ideas to protect your plants from naughty cats:

If your cat is eating plants because it’s bored, you can offer them alternative enrichment.
Cat-proof the plant. Cats can be masters of acrobatics. Placing your orchid in a high place might not suffice. Your cat could drop your fragile plant. Think about where your orchid will get the light that it needs but where your cat cannot reach it.
If your cat is grazing the orchid petals, redirect them to a more suitable plant.
Consider calling a pet behaviorist if you believe your cat is stressed. They can help determine stress triggers, and how to make your cat more relaxed.
The FAQ
What happens when a cat eats a flower?
There’s usually no need to worry if your cat nibbles the leaves or petals of your orchid. Orchids that are commonly grown as houseplants do not harm cats.4 If they remove the leaves and flowers, however, it could upset their stomach. Do not delay seeking veterinary advice if your cat is suffering from severe vomiting or diarrhea.

All orchids are cat-safe?
There are many orchid species, but not all have been tested for cat safety. When in doubt, choose species that we are sure will not harm cats. The phalaenopsis genus is nontoxic for cats. They are also popular, easily available and easy to care for orchids.

What is the most toxic plant for cats?
Some plants are not as friendly to cats. Certain true lily plants are toxic to cats. Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Japanese Show, Easter, and other lilies are among the most toxic. Even a few petals, such as two or three, can cause kidney failure.


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