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Do You Think Plants Should Have Warning Labels for Cat Owners?

I always try to keep poisonous plants away from my cats, but it made me wonder: Why no warning labels?

 |  Dec 20th 2013  |   9 Contributions


In today’s world, we seem to be warned about virtually everything. There are food allergen warnings on every package: I know this too well due to the many food allergies we experience in our family. There are warning labels on over-the-counter and prescription medications. We even have warning labels on television boxes telling us how to lift and carry the box. Signs, signs, everywhere there are signs -- or warning labels, in this case. But why aren’t there warning signs or tags on plants that tell you to keep the plant out of reach of your cats?

I think all of the detailed information describing what’s in a package and the proper way to handle an item is a good thing. If you’re anything like me, I don’t read every line unless I absolutely have to, but it’s good to know where to get the information if I need it. 

Cat on Greek balcony by Shutterstock

We are big gardeners in our family. Well, let me rephrase that comment. My wife, Kim, loves to buy plants and flowers, and she is also excellent at supervising me on where to plant and how to place the plants and flowers for optimum results. I like looking at the finished results, but I can’t say I’m a big fan of planting and maintaining them.

Our home and outside porches are always filled with plants and flowers. We even store the tropical outdoor potted plants in the garage during the winter to protect them from the cold and frost. This is in addition to the plants and flowers that cover the yard and our Southern-style walking garden out back.

We put our tropical plants in the garage for the winter.

Each plant and flower usually comes with a watering and weather zone tag, which helps you determine the proper care. A few of them have had warnings about keeping the plants away from small children, but I don’t recall seeing any tag saying to keep the plant away from cats or other animals. The only way we know which plants at our home may be poisonous or cause illness is through research in articles and websites, discussing this topic with veterinarians, and our years of experience of living with many animals over the years.

Orange cat eats plants by Shutterstock

I've had many clients contact me about physical issues they’ve had when their cats digests a leaf or a flower from a plant that was toxic to the animal. One of our family members had her cat die from eating a leaf from a peace lily. She had no idea of the dangers of having a peace lily in her home or any other poisonous houseplant that was within reach of her cat. (Catster's resident cat, Luna, also had a scare a while back.)

"Lemme check whether your crown is poisonous." Kitten wearing daisies by Shutterstock

I am aware of the labels and warnings that are printed on food, medicines and products that are specifically designed for cats. The companies that manufacture products have done a pretty good job in this area. Things do seem to be improving every year and more research and knowledge is being shared. Catster is one of the best resources available to the consumer to gain additional knowledge about cat-specific products. The articles and information found on the website is thoroughly researched and unbiased. For a comprehensive list of plants and flowers that are safe or deadly to your cat, I suggest the ASPCA website.

Garden stores, do us a favor and label the cat-friendly plants. Plants at plant store by Shutterstock

I’m hoping that one day plant and flower growers, distributors and retailers will do a better job of informing their customers about the plants that could cause cats to have health issues or even result in their death if consumed. Until then, please do your own research prior to bringing plants and flowers into your cat’s surroundings. If you already have some of the toxic or deadly plants listed on the ASPCA website, move them to a room in your home or area of the yard where your cats don’t frequent. Better yet, ask someone you know (who doesn’t have cats) if they’d take them off your hands. You can never be too careful when it comes to our furry feline friends.

Have you seen warning signs for cats on plants? Share your stories on Catster.  

About Tim Link: All-American guy who loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir and prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters. Considers himself to be the literal voice for all animals. Author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, Animal Communicator and consultant at Wagging Tales

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