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Home > Cats > Are Peonies Poisonous to Cats? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Are Peonies Poisonous to Cats? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

two pink peonies

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

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

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However pretty and attractive the plants and flowers in your garden are, they can be a real threat to your pets. Cats, among others, are sometimes victims of their overly inquisitive nature, and their attraction to the exquisite flower you just bought can take a dramatic turn.

Among the species considered toxic to pet felines, the beautiful peony is, unfortunately, part of this list. Indeed, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Pet Poison Helpline, peonies contain a toxin called paeonol, concentrated on the bark but present in all parts of the plant. If ingested in large quantities, this toxin can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

However, according to the various sources consulted, the toxicity of peonies for cats is relatively mild and does not generally lead to death.


What Makes Peonies Toxic to Cats?

Peonies (Paeonis officinalis) are known by around forty species of perennial, herbaceous, or shrub plants. The leaves are tender or dark green, sometimes silvery. The flowers can be fragrant, erect, solitary, or cup or bell-shaped.

It is paeonol, a compound found in the root barks of peonies such as Paeonia suffruticosa, which is responsible for the plant’s toxicity to certain animals, such as cats, dogs, and horses.1 However, the mechanism of action of the toxin in cats has not yet been established. However, toxic reactions have been shown in some pets, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even depression.

a blooming peony
Image Credit by Pixabay

What Are the Signs of Poisoning From Peonies in Cats?

Although a priori, ingesting a part of peony is not likely to cause severe consequences in your kitty, and it is useful to know the signs related to peony poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

These signs are also likely to occur if your cat has ingested any other kind of poisonous plant.

What to Do if Your Cat Has Eaten a Peony?

a sick or sad looking cat lying on a blanket
Image Credit: Julia Cherk, Shutterstock

Either way, if you see your cat eating a plant and you’re unsure if it’s poisonous, take the following steps before taking them to your vet:

  • Never force your cat to vomit. Only your veterinarian will be able to decide whether inducing vomiting is necessary and safe. To do this, they will administer an appropriate substance from the clinic.
  • Remove any plant matter from your cat’s hair, skin, and mouth.
  • Keep your cat confined to a safe environment so that you can better supervise them.
  • Call the Pet Poison helpline at 1-855-764-7661 or Animal Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435.

Besides, the identification of the plant is crucial in determining the treatment. If you are unsure of the name of the poisonous plant your cat has been exposed to, take a sample to your vet or a photo.


Bottom Line

Be aware that cats are very good at hiding their signs; it’s a defense mechanism that keeps them safe. Call your vet if you suspect your cat has consumed peonies, even if they have no noticeable signs of illness. That being said, signs like diarrhea, lethargy, and vomiting are hard to hide. So, always be on the lookout for distress signals from your beloved feline.

Related read:

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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