Are Hydrangeas Poisonous to Cats?

Hydrangeas are admired for their vibrant blooms, yet these flowering shrubs pose a threat to cats if they happen to munch on any part of the plant. While toxicity levels may vary among hydrangea varieties, each harbors the potential to harm cats. Discover how to safeguard your feline companion from potential dangers.

Why Are Hydrangeas Harmful to Cats?

Hydrangeas contain cyanogenic glycosides, chemical compounds that can be toxic to various animals, including cats. When a cat chews or ingests any part of the plant, these chemicals are released, triggering symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Cyanogenic glycoside, a compound capable of releasing cyanide when exposed to certain enzymes in the digestive system, determines the toxicity level. Though toxicity varies with hydrangea species and the quantity ingested, any amount of cyanide can pose a risk to cats.

Of the over 75 hydrangea types, the Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) stands out as the most toxic to cats. This plant contains substances that can induce vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy when consumed in substantial amounts. Notably, the flowers of the Bigleaf hydrangea possess a higher concentration of toxins compared to the leaves or stems. Regardless of the hydrangea type, any ingestion in large quantities can be perilous to cats. If you suspect your cat has consumed any part of a hydrangea or another plant, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Signs of Hydrangea Poisoning in Cats

The signs of hydrangea poisoning in cats vary based on the amount ingested and the toxicity severity. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, drooling, difficulty breathing, seizures, pale or blue gums, and a rapid heart rate. If you observe these signs or suspect hydrangea ingestion, seek veterinary care promptly.

What To Do If Your Cat Eats a Hydrangea

Should you catch your cat nibbling on a hydrangea plant, remove them from the area immediately to prevent further ingestion. Contact your veterinarian promptly, informing them of the incident. They may advise an examination or provide instructions for monitoring your cat. Observe your cat closely for signs of illness, and if abnormalities arise, seek veterinary care. When visiting the veterinarian, bringing a plant sample can aid in identification and treatment planning. Avoid attempting to induce vomiting without veterinary guidance, as it can be risky. While there’s no specific antidote for hydrangea poisoning, your vet might suggest activated charcoal to absorb toxins, coupled with supportive care.

Preventing Hydrangea Poisoning in Cats

To mitigate the risk of hydrangea poisoning, ensure these plants are placed in areas inaccessible to your cat, such as high shelves or behind closed doors. Alternatively, opt for cat-safe plants in your home or yard. Be vigilant with other toxic plants and supervise outdoor activities, considering transitioning your cat to an indoor environment or providing a safe outdoor space, like a catio. For a comprehensive list of toxic plants, consult the ASPCA Plant Database.

In case of emergencies, keep your veterinarian’s contact information and that of an emergency animal hospital readily available.

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