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What if My Cat Ate a Daffodil?
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What if My Cat Ate a Daffodil?

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Mar 31, 2022

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Daffodils are one of the unofficial representatives of springtime. Their bright colors usher in the season of rebirth. But for your curious cat, they may be a bit too attractive.

These flowers have an aesthetic allure that a feline may not be able to resist. This can cause some serious issues if your fur baby decides to take a few nibbles of the plant.

1

The biology of daffodils

Bunch of yellow daffodils AlpamayoPhoto / Getty Images

Part of the Amaryllidaceae family, the daffodil is also known as a narcissus. This storied flower has six tepals, which are similar to petals. In the center is a trumpet-like cup. Daffodils come in many attractive spring colors: yellow, pink, orange, and white. Sometimes they're uniform, while other times their hues contrast.

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2

Are daffodils harmful?

close-up of a red tabby cat sniffing at a yellow daffodil blossom Gabriele Grassl / Getty Images

Daffodils are usually one of the first signs of brilliant life after a cold and dark winter. Eye-catching, they're designed to gain the attention of pollinators. Yet their beauty attracts others as well. As a life-protecting safeguard, daffodils do contain a few different toxins that will poison whatever tries to eat or unearth them.

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3

Learning about lycorine

cat with yellow daffodils PumpizoldA / Getty Images

Licorine, or narcissine, is the primary toxic chemical in Amaryllidaceae family members. It's a crystalline alkaloid that's harvested for its physiological and pharmacological effects. However, in its natural state, it's poisonous if ingested by cats and other mammals, including humans.

Though it's found everywhere in the plant, the bulb contains the majority of licorine, making this the most toxic part. Being natural diggers, cats can easily uproot daffodils and consume the bulb. Eating any portion, however, will likely result in vomiting, upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea.

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4

Calcium oxalate crystals

Maine coot cat sitting outside in spring by daffodils by stairs on porch krblokhin / Getty Images

Calcium oxalate is a common offender when it comes to natural toxicity. There are well over a thousand different plants that contain this poisonous irritant. Microscopic calcium oxalate crystals are needle-like offenders located on the daffodil's bulb and in its sap. Ingestion results in a burning irritation of the lips, tongue, mouth, and throat. Drooling and swelling can occur, making breathing difficult. Skin contact also causes a painful rash-like effect.

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5

Additional symptoms

cat under blanket Tanchic / Getty Images

Licorine and calcium oxalate poisoning can happen individually or together, depending on what part of the daffodil your kitty ate. Usually, the symptoms aren't extreme, though unfortunately, sometimes they can be intense.

Not as common, lethargy and shivering could indicate poisoning. In a minuscule number of cats, low blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, drowsiness, intestinal convulsions, and tremors may occur. In incredibly rare cases, cats can suffer from liver damage. Fortunately, daffodil poisoning tends to show itself fairly quickly and doesn't creep up after the damage has already been done to the feline's system.

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6

Is daffodil poisoning fatal?

cat on the windowsill with blossom yellow daffodils ArtSvitlyna / Getty Images

Because daffodils contain toxic substances, they do have the potential to kill. But it's important to remember that this result is extremely uncommon. In exceptionally scarce cases, yes, ingesting daffodils can cause death. But for this to happen, a cat would have to eat the toxins in massive quantities, and this is quite improbable. Another thing to look out for is your cat's airway closing. Again though, this situation is abnormal.

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7

Relax, monitor, and be proactive

owner with cat at home filadendron / Getty Images

If you catch your fluffy friend eating a daffodil, the worst thing you can do is cause a scene. Getting angry, hysterical, or upset adds undue stress and confusion to the situation. The vast majority of these toxic instances demonstrate mild symptoms that go away within a few hours. Unless there's a more serious issue, your cat should be fine within a day or two. Give your buddy a bit of extra attention, and make sure they're comfortable while you monitor the situation.

You'll also want to call your vet. Typically, this problem doesn't require a visit unless symptoms are severe. Your vet very well could want to see your cat, but don't be surprised if you merely get some guidance and instructions over the phone.

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8

What to expect at the vet

cat in a veterinary clinic having iv therapy sommart / Getty Images

If your vet wants to examine your cat, get to the office at the soonest available time. It's not a bad idea to take the plant with you too, as it's concrete evidence of how much was consumed. The vet may induce vomiting or use activated charcoal to remove as much of the toxins as possible. Your kitty may also need some intravenous fluids to rehydrate.

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9

Should you keep daffodils?

Hand of a girl holding a beautiful bouquet of yellow daffodils Michele Ursi / Getty Images

Daffodils are a perennial part of many landscapes. Year after year, they bloom, and this pattern has the potential to continue for decades. If you have some in your garden, your best bet is to get rid of them, especially if your cat tends to frequent the outdoors. But if you can't bear to part with these spring blossoms, always oversee your pal's activity. Blocking off any access to the flowers with solid fencing or a net is also a good move.

As for cut or potted daffodils in your home, you probably should get rid of them. Gifting them to a friend or loved one without pets is a great idea. If the thought of parting with them isn't something you're eager to do, just make sure they're entirely inaccessible to any curious creature. Keep them in an elevated area that your cat is unable to reach.

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10

Great daffodil alternatives

cat and sunflower gyro / Getty Images

If you're willing to get away from daffodils and find something that's more pet-friendly, there are a number of options available. You'll still be able to get cheery and uplifting blossoms without the potential to harm your kitty, which is a great exchange. Some non-toxic flowers include freesia, sunflower, zinnia, crocus, rose, snapdragon, waxflower, and orchid.

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