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Are Azaleas Poisonous to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Houseplants Examined

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Are Azaleas Poisonous to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Houseplants Examined


Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo


Dr. Lorna Whittemore


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

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Azaleas are ornamental shrubs that are incredibly popular and loved by gardeners everywhere. Not only are they sturdy, resistant plants, but the flowers also turn stunning colors that range from a vibrant jewel color to a pretty, pale pastel hue. Although the plants are gorgeous, durable, and fragrant, keeping them away from your cat is essential.

The Azalea bush and all parts of it are poisonous to felines and canines. The saying that curiosity killed the cat was invented for a reason. Cats are naturally curious and will sample, chew on, or rub against anything. We’ll discuss why Azaleas are poisonous to cats and what you can do if your cat ingests part of the plant.

Cat ball divider 1

Are Azaleas Poisonous to Cats?

Yes, Azaleas are poisonous to cats. The plants, also called Rosebays, are a species of Rhododendron and are part of the family Ericaceae. Every part of the plant is toxic to cats, and when they ingest it, the toxin grayanotoxin starts to affect the cat’s sodium levels, which can lead to problems with the skeletal muscles and heart.

Image Credit: Pixabay

What Are the Symptoms of Azalea Poisoning in Cats?

If your cat ingests any part of an Azalea plant, they can display signs from 15 minutes to three hours later. That’s one of the reasons it’s crucial to keep azaleas and other toxic plants away from your feline companion.

Mild Symptoms

  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Depression
  • Over salivating
  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy

Severe Symptoms

  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Temporarily unable to see

What Should You Do If Your Cat Eats Azaleas?

While you should watch for the signs of azalea toxicity in your cat, it’s best to contact your vet immediately if you know your cat has eaten any part of the plant. In many cases, the vet will give your cat activated charcoal to help prevent their body from absorbing the poison.

They may also use a gastric lavage, which will empty the cat’s stomach of the poison. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, your cat may be kept at the vet’s clinic for up to 48 hours.

Image Credit: Pixabay

How To Prevent Your Cat from Eating Your Azaleas?

While it’s best to remove azalea bushes from your yard to prevent your cat from eating them, bushes that have been in the yard for years may be challenging to remove. If you love azaleas, you might want to keep them around.

Invest in Pet Repellent Spray

Pet repellent sprays can keep your cat out of the azaleas. Since the spray is bitter and sour, the feline may move away from the plant after taking a bite. Cats dislike sour or bitter flavors. However, some brands are only effective for 24 hours, and you’ll have to reapply the deterrent after a storm.

Make a repellent spray
Image Credit: Michael-T, Pixabay

Build a Fence

Often, just building a fence around the bush will keep your cat away since it’s too much trouble for them to jump the fence and get into the bushes.

Use Citrus

No one is really sure why, but cats hate citrus. You can use citrus spray or peels from oranges, lemons, or limes.

These are just a few of the best ways to prevent your cat from getting into and eating your Azalea bushes. None of the methods are foolproof, and it’s best to keep your cat inside where they can’t get into the bushes in your yard.

Cat ball divider 1Final Thoughts

Although you can purchase plants for your yard that will not harm your pet, azaleas are toxic to cats. You can do a few things to keep your cats from getting into your azaleas, but it’s best not to have the plants and your cat in the same yard, if possible.

See Also: 

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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