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Are Roses Toxic To Cats, Actually?

Written by Shaunice Lewis
Updated: May 7, 2022
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With the weather beginning to warm, many cat owners may be allowing their cats to venture outside again. But with the spring and warm weather comes blooming flowers and plants.

It’s important to know what plants and flowers could be toxic to your cat before letting them lounge in the garden. Read on to find out more.

No, Roses Are Not Toxic To Cats (Sort Of)

The good news is that roses themselves are not toxic to cats. However, this doesn’t mean that you want to let your guard down.

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You may catch your kitty munching or licking on the rose bush in your garden. Usually, this is not too much of a cause for concern. However, this doesn’t mean that roses cannot cause issues.

If your cat ingests certain parts of the rose, including the stem, leaves, and petals (nearly all of the plant) it may cause an upset stomach.

This reaction is usually not severe, but still, something to pay attention to. Some of the negative side effects to look out for if you suspect your cat has been eating roses include; vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy.

If you notice your cat acting strange, it is always best to consult your local veterinarian so that they can help.

And if you want to provide a healthy alternative to keep your cat from licking and chewing on roses, check out some of the best lickable cat treats.

Pesticides Are The Real Threat

Now, although roses themselves are non-toxic to cats, the pesticides they may be sprayed with definitely are.

The pesticides that can sometimes be sprayed on roses to keep the plants looking their best can pose a serious threat to your cat’s health and safety if ingested.

The symptoms to look out for if you think your cat has ingested roses sprayed with pesticides include:

  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Keep an eye out for any of these symptoms as some of them are similar to the side effects of ingesting roses without pesticides.

If you’re not sure whether or not the roses your cat ate were sprayed with pesticides, it is always best to err on the side of caution and get them to the vet just in case.

Thorns Can Pose A Risk Too

Another obvious threat that roses pose to cats is their sharp thorns. Even if your cats don’t consume any parts of the rose, just playing in a rose bush could be dangerous.

You’ll want to keep an eye on your cat to make sure it doesn’t accidentally get hurt playing around roses since it can get poked by the thorns.

Thorns can injure your cat if they play near them or decide to take a bite out of them. After playing in a rose bush, check your cat for any wounds.

If your cat is wounded and the injuries are small, a little bit of antibiotic ointment should be all that you need in order to help your cat heal and prevent the wound from becoming infected.

If the wounds on your cat appear to be more serious or show signs of infection, have them checked by a veterinarian.

Are Other Plants With Rose In The Name Toxic?

Although real roses may not be toxic by themselves to your cat, it doesn’t mean that every plant with ‘rose’ in the name should be considered safe.

There are definitely a few plants with ‘rose’ in their name that you should try to keep your cats away from. For these plants, you’ll need to watch your cats closely around them:

  • The Desert Rose (Adenium obesum), the sap of this plant is poisonous.
  • Moss Rose (Portulaca oleracea) are succulents that are toxic to cats.
  • The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) plant is poisonous to cats.
  • Rosebay (rhododendron) leaves are highly toxic to cats.
  • Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) plant is poisonous to cats.
  • Primrose (Primula vulgaris) contains oil that is toxic to cats.

If you are unsure whether or not the plants in your yard are harmful to your cat, it is best to keep an eye on it and prevent it from munching on any plants if possible.

If your cat has been exposed to a plant that you’re suspicious of, always consult your vet with questions or concerns.

If your cat is in recovery, you may want to try introducing a dry cat food made for sensitive stomachs or a wet food version.

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What Plants Can I Have That Are Safe For Cats?

Being a plant lover as well as a cat lover can be hard, especially when you want to enjoy the best of both worlds while keeping your cat safe.

Fortunately, there are many plants to choose from that are perfectly safe to have in your home or your garden while not having to worry about the safety of your cat’s health.

Rattlesnake plants can be a great addition to an indoor space that doesn’t get much sunlight. They have an easy watering schedule and grow best in loose, fast-draining soil.

As long as you fertilize the soil monthly (except in the fall and winter), this plant should hold up very well. Be sure to use a fertilizer that is safe for pets.

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These plants thrive best when kept away from direct sunlight, which is great for those that live in apartments or a space that doesn’t get much sun throughout the day.

Their ideal temperature is anywhere from 70-80 degrees F and only requires watering when you notice that the top of the soil has become dry.

You can also feel free to spritz them with a bit of water if their leaves look a bit dry.

Spider plants are a favorite among veterinarians and many pet owners. This plant is easy to grow indoors and is incredibly resilient.

This makes them especially great for those that want to get started with plants but feel as though they don’t have a green thumb.

Spider plants also make great air purifiers so they can help remove toxins from the air in your home.

Like the rattlesnake plants, spider plants do not like direct sunlight, making them great for low-light living spaces. Their ideal temperature is anywhere from 60-80 degrees F.

Keeping your home within this range will help them flourish.

Orchids are another great option that is safe for cats. These plants make a beautiful, elegant addition to your home and with proper care, can last up to four months.

These plants do their best in partial lighting, so they don’t need to be in full sun, but they will need a bit of sunlight to be happy unlike the previous two we mentioned.

You’ll want to water your orchids once a week in the wintertime, and twice a week during warmer months.

Orchids will thrive in places that offer indirect sunlight, warmth, and humidity. They typically bloom about once per year for about three months, after which the flowers will die off and return again during the next season.

If you notice the leaves of these plants begin to yellow, it may be due to overwatering or too much sunlight.

These three plants are only a few of the various plants that are safe for cats. Before bringing a new plant home, always be sure to do your research so that you keep your furry friends and the plant safe and healthy.

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Ginger kitten sitting in box with a rose.
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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What should you do if your cat just ate roses?

Visit your vet immediately if you suspect your cat has eaten a plant and exhibits any symptoms. Be sure to bring the plant with you if you’re not sure what it is so that your vet will know what to treat your cat for.

Why are cats attracted to roses?

The sweet scent of roses and sometimes the color may attract cats over for a taste.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.