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Home > Cats > Are Sunflowers Toxic to Cats? What You Need to Know

Are Sunflowers Toxic to Cats? What You Need to Know

cat with sunflower seeds

Sunflowers are large, beautiful, and striking plants that can be gorgeous additions to any home garden. They are eye-catching in flower beds and can look beautiful arranged in a vase. Of course, flowers as large and colorful as these are sure to attract the attention of your feline. If you’ve noticed your cat snacking on your prized sunflower arrangement, you may be wondering about the health consequences.

Fortunately, sunflowers are non-toxic to cats and will not cause any significant health issues if ingested. That said, eating these flowers can cause mild stomach issues for your feline, so they are best left off the menu.


Can Cats Eat Sunflowers?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, sunflowers are non-toxic to cats, and they should not cause any ill effects if your cat has a sneaky nibble here and there. Cats may enjoy a sunflower petal for various reasons, not the least of which is that the bright, attractive, and soft flower is a great toy for them to play with.

While cats are predominantly carnivores, they do occasionally eat small amounts of plants for added nutrients like fiber and may view your bouquet as a tasty snack! Every cat owner knows how mysterious cats can be, and they’ll have their own reasons for nibbling on the leaves or petals of flowers occasionally.

This should not be an issue for your cat, but if you notice them making a habit out of it and nibbling on sunflowers regularly, it’s best to try to stop them. Too much fresh plant matter can cause stomach and digestive issues. This can lead to nausea or vomiting, causing mild but unwanted health problems for your feline.

What About Sunflower Seeds?

Black oil sunflower seeds
Image by: LeoNeoBoy, Pixabay

Sunflower seeds are delicious, raw or cooked, and they have a ton of potential health benefits too. They are low in sodium and cholesterol and a great source of vitamins and minerals. Of course, this is for humans, and your cat should be getting all the nutrition that they need from their regular diet.

Cats can eat shelled, cooked sunflower seeds in moderation, but you’ll need to make sure they are not salted or seasoned. Unshelled, raw sunflower seeds should be avoided, as the sharp shell can cause internal injuries and is difficult for your cat to digest. Fortunately, most cats will have no interest in the seeds, especially while they are still on the plant, so you don’t need to worry too much.

Can Cats Have Sunflower Oil?

Image by: Bru-nO, Pixabay

The oil made from sunflower seeds is, like the rest of the plant, non-toxic to cats. Small amounts of sunflower oil on occasion should not be a problem for your cat, but it’s an unnecessary additive all the same. This oil can add more unnecessary calories to your cat’s diet and risk excessive weight gain, and these vegetable-based fats are not ideal for your carnivorous cat.

While sunflower oil shouldn’t cause much of an issue in moderation, it’s best left off the menu.


What Other Flowers Are Safe for Cats?

Sunflowers are great additions to the inside of your home and are perfectly safe to have around your feline.

Plants that are safe to add to your bouquet:
cat sitting near vase with white roses
Image by: Nadinelle, Shutterstock

What Flowers Are Toxic to Cats?

There are several flowers that you should avoid having around your feline, as they can cause mild clinical signs, like stomach issues, or severe issues, like kidney failure.

These include:
  • Lilies (true lilies and daylilies)
  • Daffodils
  • Hyacinths
  • Azalea
  • Hydrangeas
  • Tulips
  • Chrysanthemums


Final Thoughts

Sunflowers are beautiful flowers to have around your home, and they are perfectly cat safe and non-toxic. While a nibble here and there shouldn’t create any major issues for your feline, it could cause an upset tummy, so it’s best to keep them away from your sunflowers. If cooked and unseasoned, the seeds are fine in moderation for your cat, as is sunflower oil, but due to the excess calories, these are best left off the menu too.

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Featured Image Credit: Lili-OK, Shutterstock

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