Wednesday 3 April 2024

If so many plants are toxic to cats, how is it they don't all die in the wild?

Here are some reasons in response to the question in the title:

The question refers to plants in the wild. We don't know how many of them are toxic to cats and in any case not as many as the question in the title suggests (but see below for a short list). This contradicts the implication in the title that many or most are toxic.

But more importantly, there is grass outside and cats favour eating grass and in favouring grass they will ignore eating plants. They understand that grass is okay and safe to eat.

The snow leopard living at high altitude knows through eons of experience and evolution that the Tamarix plant is beneficial to them. I have suggested that it improves their oxygen intact and therefore their performance at high altitude where the air is thin.

Indoor cats might be driven to eating plants which are toxic to cats (most popular indoor plants are toxic) because they instinctively want to eat some vegetation for medicinal reasons but grass is unavailable. Lesson: full-time indoor cats should have access to some grass. I am sure that you can buy it on Amazon! πŸ‘πŸ’•.

We are not sure exactly why domestic cats and wild cats like to eat vegetation occasionally. It has medical benefits one of which might be to ingest minute amounts of a vitamin called folic acid which plays an important role in the production of haemoglobin which transports oxygen around the body in the blood.

Some experts believe that if cats are deficient in folic acid they'll become anaemic and their growth will suffer.

In the wild domestic and wild cats are able to find grass to eat and will be able to avoid plants that are toxic through experience and probably taste and smell. Cats can detect bitterness to protect from poisons.

Believe it or not, the ASPCA lists 417 varieties of plants that are toxic to cats, as well as 569 that aren’t toxic. While some plants cause mild symptoms, others can be highly dangerous. The lily is particularly hazardous, with all parts of the plant being toxic. However, there are several other plants, both indoors and outdoors, that can harm cats. Here are some common ones:

  1. Aloe vera: A succulent with jagged edges.
  2. Pothos: A low-maintenance vine.
  3. Sago palm: An ancient tropical plant.
  4. Dieffenbachia: A tropical foliage plant.
  5. Kalanchoe: A flowering succulent.
  6. Lily of the valley: Not a true lily.
  7. Hyacinth: A bulbous spring flower.
  8. Yew: An evergreen conifer.
  9. Chrysanthemum: A late-season blooming flower.
  10. Poinsettia: A perennial shrub from Mexico.
  11. Lilies (true or daylilies).
  12. Peace Lily: Not a true lily.
  13. Cutleaf Philodendron: A tropical split-leaf plant.
  14. Jade Plants: Succulent money plants.
  15. Snake Plant: An air-purifying plant.
  16. English Ivy: A delicate trailing plant.
  17. Oleander: Also known as Jericho rose or rose laurel.
  18. Tulip: Another bulbous spring flower.
  19. Daffodil: Yet another bulbous spring flower.
  20. Bird of Paradise: Two different plants with this name.

Remember, cats are generally cautious and selective about what they eat. While they may occasionally nibble on grass or greens, they primarily rely on animal-based protein. If you suspect your cat has ingested something toxic, consult a veterinarian promptly.

Sources for the second section on this page: RSPCA, Bing,,, the spruce pets and more - plus me! πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘

RELATED: Most popular houseplants are all poisonous to cats bar one

RELATED: Plants poisonous to cats (huge list).


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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