Herbs Poisonous To Cats and Common Plants Too

Are herbs poisonous to cats? This cat is sniffing a tasty-looking plant

Our yards are teeming with both wild and cultivated herbs and some herbs poisonous to cats can be found in many backyards. While cat poisoning is rare, because of their curious nature, cats can be susceptible to a variety of seemingly harmless plants.

Cats are notorious for eating anything they find outside, including herbs. Common herbs that are safe for human consumption can be poisonous to cats. Therefore, it’s essential to know which herbs pose a threat to your cat’s wellbeing.

Herbs Poisonous to Cats

Aloe Vera

Close-up of an aloe vera plant in a terracotta pot

Aloe Vera is one of the most popular herbs in the world. That’s because it’s the main ingredient in most herbal and pharmaceutical products. However, it can be poisonous when ingested by small animals like cats.

What makes Aloe Vera poisonous to cats? It contains a chemical known as saponin, which is not only toxic to cats, but horses, dogs, and kids as well. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep this plant out of your backyard or garden, or out of your cat’s reach in the house.

Common symptoms of Aloe Vera ingestion by cats include diarrhea, vomiting, and weakness.


Freshly harvested garlic bulbs with stalks still attached

It’s one of the most common herbs in today’s kitchens because of the unique flavor it adds to food. If you grow garlic in your garden, be careful to keep your cat away from the plants. If you have garlic in your kitchen, store them out of reach of your cats. Garlic contains N-propyl disulfide, which may be toxic to your cat.

Symptoms include: rapid heartbeat, panting, blood in urine, and lethargy in cats. And the fact that this compound is more concentrated in garlic compared to onions, even smaller quantities could poison your cat.

Asparagus Fern

Close-up of Asparagus Fern fronds

These are common indoor plants. In many places, they’re seen as invasive plants because they propagate quickly and cover large areas rapidly.
Asparagus Ferns contain the chemical compound sapogenin, which is responsible for many cases of allergic dermatitis.

The plants also produce berries, and when a cat consumes them, symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea will manifest.


Rhubarb ready for market

Rhubarb is a cultivated herb that grows from thick, short rhizomes. However, it’s a health risk for your cat because it contains oxalic acid and calcium oxalate crystals. These compounds can cause symptoms such as: stomach issues, tremors, hypocalcemia, and drooling.

Pets are generally not interested in rhubarb because of its bitter taste, but cats can be curious. If you cultivate it, make sure it is not easily accessible your cats.


Cherries growing on a tree

Cherry is a common outdoor plant. It’s mainly grown for its fruits. However, its leaves, including stems, seeds, roots, and pits, are not safe for cat consumption. These parts contain a substance called Cyanide, which slows down the oxidation of cytochrome, an enzyme necessary for the transportation of cellular oxygen in cats.

A cat’s cells are not able to transport oxygen through their body without the help of cytochrome. If your cat consumes cherry, it may lack sufficient oxygen in the body and vital organs.

Symptoms of cherry poisoning in cats include difficulty in breathing, dilated pupils, bright red eyes, shock, and eventual death.

Deciduous Azalea

Close up of a pink azalea

This attractive garden plant is primarily grown outdoors in southern climates. It’s not only poisonous to cats but humans as well. In fact, the symptoms start to manifest a few hours after consumption.

Deciduous Azalea contains a neurotoxin called grayanotoxin, which is poisonous to cats. If your cat has eaten Azalea, your vet will flush their digestive system with saline or activated charcoal to remove toxins from their body. If the cat is not treated, it may die.

The symptoms of Deciduous Azalea poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling.


Hosta plant with purple flowers

The Hosta originated in China, Japan, and Korea. It’s easy to grow and can live for a long time. It’s tolerant to shade, which is why it is a popular garden plant. The downside to this plant is that it contains saponins – a chemical compound which is toxic to cats.

Within a few hours of ingestion, symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting may start.

Eliminate Herbs Poisonous to Cats

Since a cat’s stomach has a relatively low tolerance, even a mildly toxic herb can be poisonous to them.

If you can’t keep your cat from wandering, it’s good to know which of these herbs poisonous to cats are lurking in your garden, and eliminate them from your backyard.