Little plant munchers

Watch out for little plant munchers


The balcony sometimes harbours unexpected dangers for cats, particularly if you have poisonous plants. Animals love to poke their curious little noses into plants, have a little nibble, or eat the flowers. Children's thirst for knowledge sometimes gets them in trouble too. You should therefore observe a few rules when it comes to poisonous plants.

Cats and children – beware of poisonous balcony plants

Cats love to nibble on plants, on grass in particular. In fact they have to do this because by doing so, it makes it easier for them to cough up indigestible hair balls, which end up in their digestive system when they clean their fur. There is special cat grass for domestic cats. However, playful or bored animals in particular can also come into contact with poisonous plants. This means pot plants can threaten life and limb. Incidentally, they are not just a threat to pets, but to children too.

Plants that are poisonous to cats – an overview

Both a large number of classic balcony plants as well as garden flowers and cut flowers are poisonous to cats and people. Below is a list of plants that you should only grow with caution:

  • Oleander: this whole of this potted plant with white to red flowers is poisonous.
  • Angel's trumpet: the fragrant potted plant with funnel-shaped, hanging flowers is regarded as particularly poisonous.
  • Ivy: the berries and leaves of this popular climber for balconies and gardens are also incompatible.
  • Castor oil plant: you should exercise caution with the seeds of this pot plant.
  • Lantanas: caution with the leaves, flowers and berries of this pot plant.
  • Blue wolf's bane: all parts of this popular garden perennial are poisonous.
  • Lily of the valley: they might look innocent, but they're still dangerous.
  • Autumn crocus: the entire plant is poisonous.
  • Laburnum: all parts of this attractive shrub with yellow flowers are poisonous.

These are just some of the plants that are poisonous to cats and people. There are many more. Lilies and Christmas roses can be harmful too.
It is important that you are well informed about the dangers. Therefore always adhere to the instructions when you buy new plants for your balcony or home.

Is it possible to wean cats off nibbling plants?

Domestic cats don't roam about in the wild, therefore plants in the home and on the balcony are automatically of interest to them and they want to inspect them more closely. Unfortunately this means coming into contact with poisonous plants which can cause considerable damage. Is there a way to stop cats from snacking on potentially dangerous plants? Yes and no. Although you can provide plenty of variety to ensure that your house cat does not develop a taste for forbidden pleasures, by laying a lawn for your cat on the balcony, for example, this offers no guarantees.
At some point your kitty will acquire a taste for snacking on plants.

The only way of being completely safe is to just have harmless plants. You will find more on this below. However if you don't want to do without plants in the home that are poisonous to cats, it is best to grow them in rooms out of bounds to your cat. Or keep your flowers out of reach, like on a shelf or in hanging baskets.

Signs of poisoning

Sometimes, even when you take every precaution, your kitty can be poisoned. If the poisoning is acute, you will usually know about it quickly. Typical symptoms include vomiting, staggering, salivating and shaking. If this happens, you should consult a vet immediately. If it is obvious which parts of the plant your pet has eaten, take these with you.

But not every incident of poisoning is acute. There are some which are only obvious after a long period of time. If your cat destroys a plant that has the potential to be dangerous but does not show any immediate symptoms, this does not mean your pet has the all-clear. Continue monitoring your pet. You know them best. If in doubt or if your pet is behaving in an unusual manner, be on the safe side and consult a vet.

Plants that are non-toxic but still dangerous

It's not just poisonous plants that can prove tricky to cats. There are some which could be dangerous because of their very nature. Plants with sharp-edged leaves are particularly unfavourable. This includes even some types of cat grass. Consuming them can lead to internal injuries.
Cats tend to keep away from spikes but they can get in the way accidentally when playing, which can lead to injuries. Also consider that a large number of plants available in stores are treated with chemicals and must therefore also be treated with caution.

Balcony plants safe for cats

If not treated with pesticides, fuchsias on the balcony are completely harmless to cats. Geraniums, whose flowers can even be eaten, daisies, catnip and strawberries are safe for pets. You can also easily keep marigolds, violets and gardenias on your balcony. Are you a fan of kitchen herbs? Great, because you and your cats can eat thyme, sage, parsley, dill, mint and lemon balm.

Plants poisonous to children

The poisonous plants listed above are also dangerous to children because they are at least as curious as pets and touch plants without thinking. This should set alarm bells ringing. Because if they then put their fingers in their mouth, the damage is done. Small children should therefore never be left unattended in the garden or on the balcony. You should explain the dangers of poisonous plants to older children. You should always set a good example, too. If necessary, always wear gloves when handling plants. This is particularly recommended when handling wolf's bane and giant hogweed. Just the slightest cut on your hand is enough to be poisoned on contact with the sap of wolf's bane. So be careful at all times, to protect yourself and your children.