On the day before Earth Day, I had a speaking engagement at Florida International University. At the end of the evening, the organizer gave me one of the lovely floral arrangements that were on the tables, a mix of hydrangeas, phalaenopsis orchids, calla lilies and greenery. It was late when I arrived home, so I put the arrangement on the TV stand where I could admire it later and went to bed.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized what I’d done: both hydrangeas and calla Lillies are toxic to cats. Despite a long history of my naughtiest cat Elliott eating things, he should not, I got lucky this time. There are literally hundreds of plants and cut flowers that are toxic to cats.
With Mother’s Day and June weddings coming up, and Easter just past, be especially cognizant of what flowers you bring into your home. Lillies of just about any kind can be deadly for cats, even with just a tiny nibble. Other common and problematic Spring flowers include tulips, daffodils, amaryllis, snapdragons and irises. When the winter holidays roll around, mistletoe can be especially dangerous to cats (and kids!). And although commonly blamed for a host of maladies, poinsettias are far from the deadliest things pet owners can bring home.
Still, for some people, nothing says “I love you” like the chopped off reproductive organs of plants. If that sounds like you, some safe alternatives for the cat owners in your life are roses, orchids, sunflowers, asters violets and zinnias. Many florists now offer “pet-friendly bouquets,” but it is still worth checking on each individual flower before leaving them alone with your best pals because we all make mistakes.
Gary Bremen has been a National Park ranger for 36 years, and volunteers at Abandoned Pet Rescue.