Azaleas

It’s no wonder that azalea plants are so popular. These flowering shrubs make excellent landscape plants and they’re easy to grow and care for.  If you’re wondering if azaleas are poisonous to cats because you think your cat ate some, you should know that azaleas are considered toxic to cats.

Azalea plants contain a toxic substance called grayanotoxin that disrupts sodium channels in cell membranes and interferes with normal nerve, heart, and skeletal muscle function.

All parts of the azalea are poisonous to cats, including the roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. A cat only needs to eat 0.2% of its body weight to become ill from an azalea, which means a 15-pound cat only needs to consume about 0.25 ounces of this plant to get sick.

Signs of Azalea Poisoning in Cats

If you’re worried that your cat will get sick from eating azalea plants, you should know the signs to watch for that indicate azalea poisoning.

The clinical signs of azalea poisoning in cats occur within 20 minutes to 2 hours of ingestion. If you notice any of the symptoms below, contact your veterinarian for advice.

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Heart failure
  • Muscle tremors or seizures
  • Temporary blindness
  • Coma
cat vomiting
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Azaleas

If you believe that your cat has consumed any part of the azalea plant, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet may tell you to bring your cat in for an exam and ask you to bring along a cutting of the plant to confirm its identity. You can expect your vet to ask you how much of the plant you think your cat ate and what symptoms you’ve seen.

Treatment for Azalea Poisoning in Cats

If your cat has eaten a large amount of an azalea plant, your vet may induce vomiting or give them activated charcoal to absorb the toxins in the gastrointestinal tract.

Depending on how sick your cat is, your vet may provide them with other treatments which could include IV fluids or medication designed for pain relief and protection of the gastrointestinal tract.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat Healthy and Safe

To keep your cat safe from toxic outdoor plants, familiarize yourself with outdoor plants that are poisonous to cats. This way, you can avoid growing these dangerous plants in your yard altogether.

Of course, it’s very difficult to keep an outdoor cat in their own yard, so you can’t always protect your kitty when they’re outside. However, you should know that cats are picky eaters, which means they’re not likely to eat a lot of something unfamiliar to them.

Usually, a cat will spend most of its time wandering around outside exploring the environment, nibbling on a little grass, and playing with things like ants and butterflies.

Conclusion

While azaleas are gorgeous outdoor plants that make wonderful landscape plants, these flowering shrubs are poisonous to cats. If you’re a cat owner with some azalea bushes growing in the yard, replace those bushes with cat-safe shrubs. Remember that it’s up to you to keep your cat healthy and safe, so don’t take any chances with your furry little friend!


Featured Photo Courtesy: Pixabay