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Home > Cats > Are Lilacs Poisonous to Cats? Vet Approved Facts & FAQs

Are Lilacs Poisonous to Cats? Vet Approved Facts & FAQs

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Whether lilacs represent a danger to cats is a unique question to answer since there are 20-25 different species of flowering lilacs. Most, including the common lilac plant (Syringa vulgaris), are perfectly safe for cats and other animals. However, the Persian lilac, which is not related to the true lilacs, is highly toxic to cats, and ingestion can be fatal.

Cats are curious creatures that explore their world with their mouth and nose, and getting into an owner’s plants isn’t unheard of. Lilacs do not generally appear on lists of dangerous plants to cats because most lilacs do not pose a risk. However, like anything else your cat may or may not ingest, it’s essential to monitor them after eating something they aren’t supposed to.


What Happens if a Cat Eats a Persian Lilac?

All parts of the Persian lilac pose a risk to cats if ingested. If your cat has ingested Persian lilacs, it’s imperative to keep an eye on them to ensure the plant doesn’t kill them. Persian lilacs can cause gastrointestinal upset in small doses and seizures or death in high doses.

Some toxins can take 3 or 4 days before the cat starts showing signs of illness, so monitoring your cat’s behavior in the days after ingesting something toxic is essential. Consulting with your veterinarian can also help identify if your cat has eaten something that could harm them.

If your cat has consumed some or all of a Persian lilac, consult with your veterinarian about the next steps and watch your cat for the following signs to identify any immediate threats to their health.

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty walking or a staggering gait
  • Lethargy
  • Pale or yellowed gums
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Nervousness or hyperactivity
  • Seizures or labored breathing

If you saw the cat eating the Persian lilac, take your cat to an emergency veterinary clinic to ensure that they’re in safe hands. As previously stated, Persian lilac ingestion can be fatally toxic to cats, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Signs Your Cat Has Eaten a Lilac

Although common lilacs are considered non-toxic to most animals, they are not edible, and ingestion of plant material can cause gastrointestinal upset in many animals. If you think that your pet has ingested plants, it’s best to give your veterinarian a call to see if there’s a chance that they’ve eaten something dangerous.

However, most ingestion of plant material will result in only diarrhea, vomiting, or general stomach upset. While these are primarily benign signs in the grand scheme of things, take your pet to the emergency veterinarian if the signs appear severe.

divider-paw Are Lilacs Poisonous to Dogs?

Common lilacs are not poisonous to dogs. However, like cats, dogs will become ill if they ingest Persian lilacs. As with cats, if your dog eats Persian lilacs, it’s essential to get their veterinarian involved to ensure they make it through the experience without too much harm.

Dogs will experience essentially the same signs as cats if they ingest Persian lilacs and will have to be taken into veterinary care if the signs are severe.

Lilacs in full bloom
Image Credit: EllieBurgin, Pexels

Are Lilacs Poisonous to Livestock?

Common lilacs are safe for livestock animals, including chickens, horses, and cows. Persian lilacs are also safe for most livestock animals. However, they are toxic to horses. Pigs, goats, and chickens will eat just about anything you put in front of them and come out the other side. Lilac plants will give a goat a stomach ache, and they’ll likely stay away from them after that. French lilacs are lethally toxic to sheep and should be kept away from them if allowed on a property with sheep at all.

How Can I Know What Plants Are Toxic?

The ASPCA has a list of plants known to be toxic or mildly toxic to animals posted on their website. While the list is not exhaustive, it contains a comprehensive and sortable list of plants that we know are toxic. It also includes a list of plants that we know are non-toxic to animals.

What Plants Are Safe for Cats?

While we know that common lilacs aren’t toxic to cats, they’re not edible either. To qualify as an edible plant, the plant must be digestible by the animal and provide nutrients when digested. While cats are not built for digesting plant matter, a small number of plants are considered edible by them.

As obligate carnivores, their diet needs to be sourced from at least 70% animal proteins, but some plant materials can provide roughage and fiber to their diet. Still, you don’t want to have your cat overeating plant material. Plant material can upset their stomachs since they’re made to break down animal proteins.

a tabby cat lying on a hammock by the window
Image Credit: Saman Tsang, Unsplash


Catnip is not just tantalizing for cats; it’s also considered edible! Pet parents whose cats can’t stop getting into their plants may want to consider growing some catnip plants for their cats to chew on. While we usually buy catnip pre-dried and ground, the whole plant is edible for cats, and they’ll go crazy for it!

Cat Grass

While cat grass might sound like a special kind of grass, it’s just a blend of different grass seeds that cats like to eat. Cat grass is a mixture of wheat, barley, and rye seeds that are easy to care for, and your cats are free to chow down on the cat grass.

cats running on grass
Image Credit: Piqsels

Lemon Thyme

Like many herbs, thyme is safe for cats to eat. Lemon thyme is an excellent addition to any herb garden due to its lovely scent and safety for cats in the proximity. It’s also straightforward to grow. You only need to leave it in the sun and water it when the soil looks dry!

Image Credit: Pixabay


If you’re looking for a beautiful flower to add to the garden, Valerian plants produce a gorgeous purple flower and are safe for cats to eat as well. The whole valerian plant is safe for cats, including the flowers, so they’re beautiful to look at and stress-free to have around your cats.

Valerian Root
Image Credit: Pixabay

Spider Plant

Spider plants are beloved for their unique appearance of long, flowing leaves. Cats love them too, both for playing and eating, and thankfully they’re safe for cats to eat. So, cat parents can enjoy the look of the plant without worrying about whether or not their cat might eat the leaves.

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divider-paw Final Thoughts

Knowing what things might harm our pets is an essential part of pet parenthood. It’s excellent that common lilacs aren’t threatening to our kitties because they’re beautiful, and that means we can beautify our homes with them without worry. It will be essential to check what kind of lilacs you’re getting because Persian lilacs are highly toxic to cats and could kill them! No matter what you use to make your home feel comfortable, it’s good to do your research to make sure they’re safe for everyone in the house!

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Featured Image Credit: Danica Stradecke, Unsplash

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