Is Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Cats?
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Is Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Cats?

The Christmas cactus is a plant that flowers in the winter, hence its name. This plant has flat stems and brightly colored flowers when in bloom. Because of those blooms, many people have them in their homes to brighten their spaces during the cold winter. 

Picture this: your cats’ Christmas dinner is your new beautiful Christmas cactus; you haven’t even had time to enjoy it before your cat has enjoyed a snack. When it’s cat vs. cactus, cat wins. Should you be worried?

This article will discuss whether or not the Christmas cactus is toxic to cats and what signs and symptoms to look out for if your cat decides to snack on your houseplants.

a close up of a plant with red flowers
a close up of a plant with red flowers

Are Christmas Cactuses Poisonous to Cats?

If you’re noticing that your cat is snacking on your houseplants, whether you catch them in the act or see bite marks on the leaves/stems, it's important to understand how those plants might affect your cat's health. 

According to petMD, the amount of the plant ingested will determine whether or not the plant has a poisonous effect. 

Generally, the Christmas cactus is considered non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, according to the ASPCA. They do not have the same fatal consequences as the consumption of a lily – keep these away from your cats and dogs at all times!

Cactus, Cat, and the Potential Dangers 

If you have ever been in a situation where you’ve had to rush your precious furry friend to the vet because of something they ate, know you’re not alone. It's perfectly reasonable to be leery when adding a plant to your home, especially if it can become an afternoon snack for your cat or dog. 

The good news is that the Christmas Cactus is generally non-toxic to cats, but this doesn’t mean you should allow your furry feline friend to continue snacking on it. 

If your cat has been munching on your Christmas cactus, or any houseplant for that matter, it is best to talk to your vet and plan to bring your furry friend in for a checkup out of an abundance of caution. 

Are Christmas Cactuses Poisonous to Cats? 

While the short answer to this question is “no,” Christmas cactuses are identified by the ASPCA as being non-toxic to cats in small quantities. However, if a large amount of the cactus is consumed, your cat may start to exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Diahrrea

  • Nausea/fatigue

  • Vomiting

  • Decreased appetite

Why Do Cats Eat Houseplants?

There may be several reasons your cat is choosing to feast on your houseplants. While cats are carnivores and cannot survive on a strictly plant-based diet, cats (and dogs, for that matter) tend to munch grass, houseplants, and other vegetable matter. 

According to gardenerspath.com, research has shown that cats eat grass and other plant matter to get rid of internal parasites. Wild felines, like lions, are often plagued with large volumes of worms, so eating non-digestible plant matter helps rid themselves of these parasites. 

While we often feed our furry friends a monthly preventative for worms and intestinal parasites, their behavior is still ingrained.  

Boredom, curiosity, and playfulness can also explain why your cat is munching on your houseplants. While your cat may not intentionally eat the plant, but you catch them nibbling the leaves during an episode of play, they may inadvertently ingest some of the leaves. 

This is another reason why providing plenty of enrichment toys and exercise for kitty is extremely important to keep your playful puss out of trouble. If you find that your kitten is feeling extremely curious, it's a good idea to keep your Christmas cactus out of reach. 

Of course – out of reach can mean different things to different cats; if your kitten is leaping to new heights or scaling the curtains, you may consider ‘out of reach’ to be ‘out of the house’ instead. 

Are Christmas Cactuses Pet-Friendly? 

Are cactuses poisonous to cats? While Christmas Cacti are non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, you should be mindful of bringing one into your home if your furry friend might choose to feast on it as a snack. 

If you notice that your feline has sunk its teeth into your plant, we recommend calling your vet to be safe. While it's generally not fatal when consuming the Christmas cactus cats can experience nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. 

You’ll also want to be careful of any pesticides or chemicals used to maintain the well-being of your plant. While the plant itself may not be harmful to your beloved kitty, any type of insect repellent or anti-fungal can be poisonous to your cat. 

With some necessary precautions, you can rest assured that the Christmas cactus can be a safe addition to your home. 

As always, if you’re worried about the safety and well-being of your precious kitten, have a conversation with your vet to discuss your concerns and decide whether bringing a new plant into your home is safe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Christmas cacti pet-friendly?

The ASPCA lists the Christmas Cactus's stems and flowers as non-toxic to cats and dogs. 

Do cats eat Christmas cactus?

Generally, cats may be tempted to eat or chew on houseplants if they are bored or stressed or simply enjoy the taste – your cat may try to eat your Christmas cactus.  If you're concerned about your cat eating a cactus, it's best to keep it out of reach or remove it altogether.

How do I stop my cat from eating Christmas cactus?

If your cat is known to munch on your plants, consider using a hanging basket or placing the cactus out of reach of your cat. Many cat parents also offer “cat grass,” an indoor plant specifically for pets, as a safe alternative to chew on.

What happens if a cat bites a cactus?

While Christmas cactuses aren’t necessarily poisonous to cats, they may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if they ingest any part of the plant.