Thursday 14 December 2023

Top Christmas indoor plant is toxic to cats but its toxicity is greatly exaggerated

Top Christmas indoor plant is toxic to cats but its toxicity is greatly exaggerated
Poinsettias are mildly toxic to cats. Image: MikeB

This is what one website says about poinsettias:

Native to Central America, poinsettias are perfect for the festive season. With little sunlight needed to survive, they are brilliant to buy as a table centrepiece in time for Christmas.
Yep, they are perfect for Christmas; bright red and green. A perfect combination of colours to decorate the home generally at Christmas.

But historically, you'll see warnings on the internet that this plant is toxic to cats. It would seem that some websites exaggerate their toxicity. 

This may have originated in the poisoning of a child in the early 20th century who ate the leaves and died. 

Here is an extract from an AI computer's assessment of their toxicity:
Poinsettias contain milky white sap that contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters. These compounds can cause irritation and discomfort if ingested by cats, resulting in mild gastrointestinal upset, such as drooling, vomiting, or diarrhoea. However, the toxicity of poinsettias to cats is relatively low, and severe poisoning or fatal outcomes are extremely rare.
The point though is that the plant can cause ill-health in cats and in the worst case scenario seriously harm a cat.  Steps should be taken to protect cats from poinsettias.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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