Are Evergreen Trees Toxic to Cats?

Are Evergreen Trees Toxic to Cats?

Introduction

How often have you come across your cat chewing on or eating something they shouldn’t? This phenomenon is nothing new to cat owners. Therefore, it is important to be informed about items or in this case plants that may or may not be harmful to your cats. Evergreens are very popular plants for landscaping and for holiday purposes. Are the new bushes you planted in front of your house a hazard to neighborhood cats or your own? Is the evergreen tree you got for Christmas something that could hurt your cat?

Keep reading this post to find out about cats and evergreen trees.

Are evergreen trees toxic to cats?

Most evergreen trees are non-toxic to cats but as with anything there are usually some exceptions. Fir and spruce trees are non-toxic to cats and are safest for Christmas trees if you have cats. The needles of the fir or spruce can still cause issues for your cats though. If ingested, the needles may cause gastrointestinal distress or damage the internal organs due to their sharpness. 

If you get a live tree, the water could mix with the fertilizer used to grow the tree and cause fertilizer poisoning in your cat if your cat drinks it. Make sure to cover the base of the tree to prevent this.

Pine trees are the evergreens you need to watch out for. Norfolk pine, house pine and Australian pine are some of the pine species toxic to cats. The sap and needles or pine trees are toxic although the toxic chemical or compound is unknown. Keep your cats away from any pine trees and especially the needles and sap to keep them safe.

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What are the symptoms of evergreen poisoning in cats?

Although fir and spruce trees are non-toxic that does not mean there are no symptoms associated with their ingestion. Fir tree oil can irritate your cats mouth. This can cause excessive drooling and if the oil is swallowed can cause vomiting.

Pine poisoning symptoms are slightly more severe. The first symptoms are lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms get worse if your cat continues to eat the sap. Liver damage can occur over time as well as severe digestive distress.

Other symptoms from fertilizers or pesticides ingested from the water or needles can also be more severe. Muscle weakness, drooling, labored breathing and changes in hunger or thirst are the major symptoms to be on the lookout for. 

What is the treatment for pine poisoning in cats?

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above and you think it could be from pine poisoning, take your cat to the vet. The vet will give your cat an emetic to empty your cats stomach to purge it of any remaining toxins. Another approach would be to administer charcoal to absorb the toxins. Both will help your cat recover within a few hours. Rarely is pine poisoning fatal when treated and caught in time. If you suspect any kind of plant poisoning do not hesitate to get your cat to a vet.

Conclusion

Cats are curious by nature and it can often be harmful to them if not taken seriously. Evergreen trees are in abundance both outside and inside during Christmas. Not a whole lot can be done about the outdoor trees except for keeping a close eye on your cats or your neighbors cats. 

A lot more can be done about the trees indoors. My first recommendation is to not get a real live Christmas tree. Fake trees are more convenient, less expensive year after year and for the purpose of this post, pet-friendly. Fake trees could save you a lot of hassle around a time of year already riddled with stress and hassles. 

If you must insist on getting a live Christmas tree, get a spruce or fir tree as these non-toxic. You still need to keep an eye on your cats even if you get one of these. Cats will eat the needles which can cause vomiting or internal damage. Pesticides and fertilizer can still be part of the tree and can poison your cat. Cats will drink the water meant for the tree and get sick because of the chemicals used in preserving the tree. Just because the tree itself is not toxic does not make it safe for your cats. 

As stated above, if you want to avoid the majority of harm evergreens can cause your cats, get a fake tree for Christmas. For more information on plants and cats check out the variety of other posts on my blog. 

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