I have lived under the impression that my favorite Christmas flower, poinsettias are deadly to cats. So living in South Florida with indoor cats, I simply used poinsettias as outdoor decorative plants and admired them on the patio and entrance areas. But I have learned it is possible to enjoy poinsettias and cats on the inside without disastrous results.

The beautiful plant was introduced to the United States by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in 1825. The myth of poisonous poinsettias comes from the death of a two-year old child who allegedly ate a poinsettia leaf in 1919.

According to the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center, poinsettias are “irritating to your cat’s mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting”. The plant is over rated in toxicity.  The cat will not die or be violently sick.

A Texas A&M veterinarian says to make your poinsettia a table centerpiece and quit worrying. Poinsettias aren’t really poisonous to people or pets, and the reason I hedge even slightly is this:  “A 50 pound-child would have to eat over 500 leaves to be poisoned, said Dr. Audrey Cook, a clinical associate professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. And before a human or animal could consume enough to die, they’d vomit. It’s self-limited,” she said.

If you want live poinsettias, but are uncomfortable with your cats getting an upset tummy, consider displaying them in locked or inaccessible areas from your cats. Sometimes, placing plastic or aluminum foil under the plant will deter cats since they don’t like walking on such textures. After all, if I can prevent my kitty getting an upset tummy, it’s worth it.

What is your experience with cats and poinsettias?

Bountiful Blessings!