Are Birds of Paradise Poisonous to Cats? What Do I Do if They Eat One?


The bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) is native to tropical regions. When in bloom, its colorful petals resemble birds in flight. With the proper care, you can grow a bird of paradise indoors. For anyone with a green thumb, this is a stunning plant to have in your home. But is this plant safe for cats?

Unfortunately, the bird of paradise is toxic to cats. It should not be confused with Caesalpinia or Poinciana gilliesii, two other plants that have the nickname “bird of paradise. This is one plant your kitty shouldn’t nibble on. Below, we’ll cover what to do if your cat eats a bird of paradise and some safer houseplant alternatives.

My Cat Ate a Bird of Paradise Plant. Now what?

It’s easy to panic if your cat ate something toxic. However, try to stay calm so you can take quick action. Follow these steps if your cat ate a bird of paradise plant.

  1. Remove any plant or flower pieces from your cat’s mouth and fur.
  2. Confine your cat to one room so you can monitor them. You can place them in their carrier or a small room like a bathroom.
  3. Call your veterinarian. Grab a pen and piece of paper to write down any instructions.
  4. If your cat throws up any plant pieces, place them in a clean plastic bag or container. Your veterinarian may want to examine the vomit.
  5. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions.

According to the ASPCA, the bird of paradise’s toxic principle is a GI irritant. Your veterinarian could ask you to monitor your cat at home, or they may ask you to come in right away.

How Do I Know if My Pet Cat Ate a Toxic Plant?

In some cases, it’s obvious that your kitty attacked a houseplant. The pot is on its side, there is soil everywhere, and the leaves are full of bite marks! But cats can eat plants clandestinely. Here are some signs that your kitty may have eaten a toxic plant:

  • Drooling or excessive saliva
  • Difficulty swallowing food or water
  • Unusual lethargy
  • Labored breathing

Don’t wait to call your veterinarian, animal hospital, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Which House Plants Are Safe for Cats?

Plants add warmth and a touch of green to your home, but you’ll need to choose your houseplants carefully if you have a pet cat. Orange Star, Thea Japonica, and Texas Sage are three vibrant flowering plants that are safe for cats.

However, your kitty may still vomit or have diarrhea after eating a non-toxic plant. Cats are strict carnivores, and their bodies are meant to process meat. Oftentimes, they can’t digest whole plants without upsetting their stomachs.

Why Do Domestic Cats Eat Plants?

This is a fair question, considering any plant—even grass—can make a cat sick to their stomach. Humans avoid foods that make them sick, so why are some cats attracted to plants?

We may never know why cats eat plants. There are several possible explanations, including that it’s an instinctual behavior.

Final Thoughts

The bird of paradise flower is toxic to cats, and you should contact your veterinarian ASAP if your kitty eats this plant. Some cats inexplicably love to nibble on plants, and several species are safe to have in your home and garden. When you visit a garden center or private nursery, you can consult the ASPCA’s toxic plant list from your phone to ensure your purchases do not harm your furry friend.


Featured Photo Courtesy: Pixabay



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