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Are Roses Toxic To Cats?

by Guest Contributor
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One thing any cat owner can confidently say is that their sweet little pets are eminently curious. Their instincts quickly take over when it comes to different ways of hunting for food or protecting themselves. With that in mind, it’s important to be aware of potential dangers that may be lurking in your home or backyard. Specifically, we’re looking at that beautiful flower that you’ve worked so hard to keep alive . . . your rose bush!

The rose plant regularly becomes a household favorite and often a prized possession. So, there’s no doubt that your feline lovelies are going to be just as engrossed in their beauty as you are. The beautiful colors and strong smells of rose petals are almost impossible to resist. Thankfully, the rose isn’t necessarily a toxic plant, but be aware of its counterparts! Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know to keep your cats safe this spring and summer.

Are Roses Toxic To Cats?

The True Rose: The Rosa Family

The Rosa family has a wide variety of plants in the species. According to A to Z flowers, there are “about 150” to be exact. The family Rosaceae is the official name for any plant considered to be a true rose. According to A to Z Flowers, “The healing property of the plant has been used in medicine for thousands of years”. Therefore, we can confidently scratch the Rose off as a toxic plant.

Here are a few true rose plants that are included in the Rosa family:

  • Rosa Aciculair: Prickly Rose
  • Rosa woodsii: Wood’s Rose
  • Rosa sp: Wild Rose Hips
  • Geum Macrophyllum: Yellow Avens

Many more true rose plants are OK for your cat to be curious around. Thankfully, true roses have zero levels of plant toxicity. Roses are safe for your kitties and can be easily digested.

We suggest that before planting any forms of “roses” in your garden or home, you research whether or not that rose comes from the true rose plant group. There are many research databases available to help you figure this out. A simple Google search will most likely give you the answer you’re looking for. If you want a more detailed and reliable research location, the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a database of all plants that are found throughout the United States. This is a government-run database, therefore, it’s trustworthy and proven to be true.

are roses toxic to cats?

How to Detect Plant Poisoning in Your Cat

First things first, it’s important to be able to quickly identify any sickness that your kitties might come down with. It’s awfully scary when any of our precious pets get sick. Therefore, knowing the difference between a possible plant poisoning and something else is crucial.

According to the Healthy Pet Club, the following symptoms can normally be seen if a cat has ingested a poisonous plant:

  • Irritation of the skin and eyes
  • Twitching
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion

These are the main symptoms to look out for when dealing with a cat who you think may have ingested a toxic plant. If your cat is exhibiting any symptoms, call your vet or the pet poison helpline immediately for more information on the next steps to take. The Animal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) provides a 24/7 animal poison control line which can be reached by US phone numbers at:

(888) 426-4435.

In an emergency, calling this number won’t only help keep your cats safe but will also give you peace of mind that you’re precious pet’s going to be ok. A consultation fee may apply.

Pesticides

With the pet poison helpline in mind, let’s chat about what may actually make roses toxic to our kitties. It’s no doubt that pesticides have a known link to poisoning many different animals, in fact, that’s normally why we use them! According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Pesticides are used to control various pests and disease carriers, such as mosquitos, ticks, rats, and mice.” With that said, pesticides haven’t necessarily been designed with your pets in mind.

Nobody knows your pet quite like you do, therefore, you should be the first person to be able to spot a difference in the behavior of your cat. Look for the following symptoms in your cat if you believe they may have gotten into some pesticide-covered plants:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Trouble walking
  • Trouble breathing

There could be some other symptoms that your kitty might exhibit but these are normally the most obvious when it comes to pesticide poisoning. If you believe that this has happened, it’s crucial to seek medical help for your kitties immediately. Whether that be a phone call to the pet poison helpline or a trip to the Vet. Poisoning of any kind should never be brushed off. 

are roses toxic to cats?

Tricky Rose-Like Plants

Although there are tons of true rose plants out there that are promised not to hurt your cat, there are some misleading plants that might. Some plants look almost identical to the Rose but aren’t actually in the Rosa family. This is why we strongly suggest researching your roses before planting them! It’s not only important for your pets but also your peace of mind. There’s a big difference between a plant that has historically been used for medicine and a poisonous plant that just looks beautiful.

Here are some plants that we’ve found to look like roses BUT might be dangerous to your cats! Cat owners take note of these sneaky rose plants that might have higher plant toxicity than your average Rose.

  1. Camellia

This plant, which is rich with some of the most beautiful flowers, might be great for Valentine’s day but could potentially be dangerous for your cat. While it might not be deadly, this plant may cause some discomfort in your pets. It might not necessarily require a trip to the vet but could cause both vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Therefore, take caution if you’ve purchased a rose plant lookalike like this!

  1. Ranunculus

The Ranunculus plant comes in a variety of colors that are sure to make any garden look beautiful. Mimicking the pompom-shaped rose that can be found in any old-fashioned photograph or movie, you’ll love to add this flower to your garden. Keep in mind that this isn’t considered to be in the category of cat-friendly plants. The look and feel may mimic a beautiful rose, but the high level of plant toxicity makes it an obvious plant to keep out of your garden if you have pets. Ranunculus can mimic symptoms of plant poisoning and might quickly have your beloved pets in the hospital.

  1. Peonies

Another beautiful Rose look-alike is the Peony. Peonies have been spicing up beautiful gardens for years. They’re a classic found in a variety of different gardens around the United States. This shrub-like plant is filled with beautiful cup flowers coming in a variety of colors that closely resembles a rose bush. The biggest difference, and most important aspect, to look out for with Peonies is, of course, the safety of your pets. Peonies are found to be toxic to animals and are considered a very poisonous plant. This toxic plant will have you putting in a call to the pet poison helpline or spending the day at the vet with your pet. The best way to avoid plant poisoning in your cat is to bypass planting this flower in your garden completely. Stick to a true rose to keep your pets safe!

  1. The Desert Rose

With the word “rose” directly in the name, it’s completely normal for any cat owner to mistake this plant for a true rose. Unfortunately, it’s not. Unlike true roses that fall into the Rosa family, the Desert Rose is not at all related. This popular indoor succulent can provide a beautiful aesthetic to any plant lover’s home. Having said that, it’s important to note that this plant is extremely dangerous not only to cats but also to humans! The sap found inside the Desert Rose is extremely harmful. With high plant toxicity levels, the desert rose isn’t recommended. This house plant will generally only be harmful if your cat ingests the entire flower (or bites into it and eats the sap), but knowing if your cat will be curious about it is impossible to predict. It’s better to avoid this plant altogether or just store it in a room that your kitty doesn’t have access to.

  1. The Lenton Rose

The Lenton Rose, which is commonly referred to as the Christmas Rose or the Easter rose, is one of those holiday roses that should NEVER be around your curious cats. This plant is not at all a true rose and should be stored with extreme caution not only around your cats but also around any other animals in your household. You should also be aware if you plan to give this plant as a gift or decoration during the holidays; if your friends or family have animals in the house, maybe try going a different route.

The Lenton rose can be extremely dangerous and if you believe that your cat has ingested this plant, you must contact the pet poison helpline or your veterinary clinic immediately! This is an extremely toxic plant that should be handled with serious care and stored in a place that your cherished animals can’t get to it.

  1. Primrose

Another tricky rose-named plant is the Primrose. Despite not being a true rose, the primrose isn’t quite as dangerous as the Lenton Rose. The Primrose is certainly considered to be dangerous to cats and dogs, but it isn’t necessarily deadly. It may just cause discomfort and some GI issues in your pets. Therefore, being aware and careful of this possibility is extremely important for your pet’s health and your well-being. If your animals become sick after ingesting this plant, they should be back to their normal selves within the next few days. As with any other sickness, it’s important to monitor your cat, as it potentially could be something more serious than just ingesting a Primrose petal.

  1. Moss Rose

Another deceitful rose bush is the Moss Rose. Despite the name, this plant isn’t considered to be a true rose and can be extremely harmful to your cats. According to the ASPCA, the Moss Rose plant not only can make your cat sick but may also lead to kidney failure in dogs and cats. It may be considered rare, so if your cat has ingested the plant, it’s important to call the pet poison helpline or your veterinarian just to be safe.

  1. Rosebay

Rosebay is another toxic plant that’s adopted the “rose” name. This poisonous plant is highly toxic to your feline, along with your other pets. Even eating a few of these rose leaves will leave your cats with very evident symptoms of plant poisoning. According to the ASPCA, the Rosebay, part of the Rhododendron species, will exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hypersalivation
  • Weakness
  • Coma
  • Hypotension
  • CNS depression
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite

These are the most pivotal symptoms that may arise in your animals. It’s important that if you suspect or if your kitties are showing any of these symptoms you contact the pet poison helpline or your veterinarian on what steps you should take.

Above are just a few of the different poisonous plants that may be confused as being authentic roses. Be careful with the plants that you’re putting in reach of your curious, sensitive felines. It’s important to always research and check local databases for plant toxicity levels.

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Other Potential Rose Hazards

Through research, and previously stated in the article, it’s become evident that roses are not toxic plants, but the beautiful flower has a few other potential dangers that might injure your pets. The most obvious is that of their sharp thorns.

We’ve all been poked or scratched by some type of thorn on some type of plant throughout our lives. Rose petals and leaves aren’t found to be harmful but it’s not surprising that the sharp thorns found on your rose plants can end up hurting your kitties. It’s a bit easier for us humans to avoid getting hurt, but cats love to feel and rub against things. Therefore, the potential of scratching their skin, eyes, mouths, and even insides is quite high.

This can be easily avoided by not using roses as a house plant or keeping them in a place that your kitty won’t rub against them. Although that may be true, sometimes things are just unavoidable and that’s ok! Cats are natural healers and will most likely heal themselves quickly. Just take caution if you believe your cat has ingested a stem that may have thorns on it. Swallowing the thorns of a rose bush could potentially cause serious harm.

Protect Your Kitties

As mentioned before, sometimes accidents happen and there’s not much you can do to stop your kitties from being curious creatures. Coming up with different ways to train your cats not to consume plants can be a complete trial and error process. We know how independent our curious felines can be. Here’s a list of a few different techniques you can try:

  1. The Classic: Water Spray Bottles

Spray bottles are a classic way of training our cats not to do things they shouldn’t. The majority of cats HATE water, except those few that absolutely love it. If you are a cat owner that falls in the majority, then spraying your cat with water when they approach a house plant will most likely work quite well for you.

  1. The Alternative: Cat Grass

Cat grass is, essentially, a mix of a few different types of grass that’ll give your kitty a sense of nature inside your home. It’s natural for cats to eat grass and providing them with a safe variety will surely entice them. It can go either way though, some cats love it and some cats don’t. Try it out and let your kitty be the judge!

  1. The Obvious: Keep Plants Out of Reach

This technique is a bit more obvious and is probably the only sure way that cats won’t accidentally ingest a poisonous plant, or injure themselves on a plant’s thorns. Keeping plants out of reach will keep your mind at ease, but might dim the beauty throughout your home.

Conclusion

All in all, some plants can be dangerous for our curious felines, but roses aren’t toxic to cats. There might be some controversy on the overall safety of roses as a house plant due to the nature of their sharp thorns. Overall, though, roses aren’t, in any way, poisonous. There’s no stopping your cat from feeling, smelling and, of course, tasting your luscious rose bush, but keeping in mind their absolute safety should come at the top of your list. For a more detailed list of plants that are potentially poisonous check out the ASPCA’s detailed database filled with authentic and helpful information about toxic and non-toxic plants. 

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