With holidays just around the corner, everyone is certain to be getting in the spirit. You can be hanging stockings on your mantle, putting lights in your windows and placing holidays plants around the house. While poinsettias are the Christmas plant, do cats and poinsettias mix?

Are Cats and Poinsettias a Dangerous Mix?

The short answer? Kinda-sorta. Poinsettias were given a bad rap back in the early 1900s. As the story goes: in 1919, an Army officer stationed in Hawaii found a child dead under a poinsettia plant. The assumption was that the poinsettia is what caused the death. While testing proved this not to be the case, the rumor had already spread. It stated that poinsettias were a toxic plant that should be avoided at all costs. We know today that consuming poinsettia flowers or leaves is not actually toxic, though there may be side effects. If you or your pet consumes poinsettias, the following side effects may occur:
  • Skin Irritation
  • Eye Irritation
  • Drooling
  • Locking Lips
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
While these side effects are not comfortable, they are by no means fatal. For the most part, these symptoms are self-limiting because a cat will stop eating a poinsettia before these symptoms become too severe. So, cats and poinsettias should not mix, but if they do at least you don’t have to worry about a trip to the vet. Just keep a close eye on your pet, make sure they get plenty of water and the symptoms should subside quickly.

What Else Should I keep My Cat Away from This Holiday Season?

Now that we know cats and poinsettias are a tolerable (while not preferred) combination, what about some other products your cat may be exposed to this season? There are other potentially more dangerous products that are sure to be floating around this holiday season that you should be aware of. Here are just a few:


Most, but not all, people are aware that chocolate is not good for animals. With all the children running about, there is a chance that your pet can find their way into some delicious treats. Chocolate is considered toxic to most pets, and the darker the chocolate the worse their reaction can be. If your pet gets a hold of some chocolate, look for these symptoms to appear:
  • Increased Thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
Abnormal heart rate or breathing can occur, and if you see these symptoms a trip to immediate care will be necessary.

Eggnog (or other liquors)

Sometimes when revelry hits a peak, it’s easy to go to bed and leave the mess for tomorrow morning. This doesn’t work well when you have pets in the house, however. Alcohol is very toxic to animals. It’s easy for a cat or dog to want to finish the last of a drink, especially mixed drinks that are usually made to be sweeter that straight alcohol. Make certain that your guests are aware of where their drinks are and clean up after yourself before going to bed. Alcohol can cause coma, liver damage, and even death in small animals.


While the actual chemical compound has yet to be discovered, what is known is that lilies are toxic to animals. Be sure that if you are given any lilies as gifts, you keep your cat away from it.


While not legal federally, many states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. Just because people can consume it, doesn’t mean that your pets should. If your cat consumes marijuana, they can experience depression of the central nervous system, increased heart rate, vomiting and diarrhea. Seizures and coma have even been reported. So, if you or your guests partake in marijuana use, be certain to keep your cat away.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Cat Has Consumed Something Toxic?

At best, if it is still during business hours you can try calling your vet. Have an idea of what and how much you pet consumed. If it is after business hours, you should take your pet to the nearest immediate care center or contact the ASPCA 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 888-426-4435. If you do go to immediate care, be sure to take the plant your pet consumed to it can be certainly identified. Hopefully this has given you some ideas of how to keep your pet safe this holiday season