NPR’s Mike McGrath Schools Us on Poisonous Plants for Cats in Today’s “Ask a Cat Lady”


Editor’s Note: This week’s Ask a Cat Lady video raised some very important concerns about plants that can be harmful to cats. We checked in with Catster’s resident vet, Dr. Eric Barchas, and he said that while the gist of Mr. McGrath’s advice was correct, lilies didn’t fit the mold and should not have been included in the shortlist used in Friday’s song. So we’ve taken down the video and pulled the lyrics from this post.

This video series is supposed to be lighthearted — it’s Ask a CAT LADY, not ask an expert — but we don’t want to be sending out advice that is harmful, either. The comments section on this post is now closed thanks to some uncivil comments. Those have been removed, too. Please play nice and remember that nobody here (especially Sarah Donner who is always helping kittens find new homes) wants any harm to come to any kitties, EVER.

This holiday season, you may be decking your halls with balls of Charlie (thats what I used to say when I was five) or holly or ivy. Its a good idea to know what plants your cat would enjoy chewing and regurgitating.

I called Mike McGrath, the host of NPRs You Bet Your Garden. He had me on his show last year when I released my “Center Pivot Irrigation” video, so I knew he was the man to ask. I learned a whole host of facts about holiday plants and the myths surrounding their toxicity. Also, it turns out he has been rescuing cats for more than forty years!

According to Mike, the theory on poisonous plants is 90 percent hysteria and 10 percent diluted hysteria. He says its like poisonous spider bites: an obligatory story for garden writers. There just arent enough documented cases to substantiate the fears.

Cats have the remarkable quality of being able to throw up the entire contents of their stomachs … especially on a white carpet, Mike says. They will nibble on many plants, but not for long. Toxic plants do not taste good anyhow. If you want to satisfy their primal need to chew on something and throw it up,put out cat grass.

While there are highly poisonous plants out there, chances are they will never end up on your window sill. You should put your cat-proofing efforts into your Christmas tree. Keep ornaments high and electrical wires off the ground!

Now chill out and bedeck your halls with balls, holly, and cat grass.

We wish you a very happy nontoxic holiday season!

Sarah, Dunkin, Shosha, Rory, Bean, Crumpet, Oatmeal, and Omelette

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.

Let Catster answer all of your most baffling feline questions!

Starting at just


Follow Us

Shopping Cart