Are tulips safe for cats?

Tulips are unsafe for cats. And a recent story about Kiki the cat from the UK proves it. But the story confuses me because a veterinarian diagnosed kidney damage because the cat had ingested some of the tulip (it seems). The decision was to euthanise. So in effect tulips killed this cat.

However, the ASPCA tells us that the toxins tulipalin A and B are predominantly in the tulip bulb and this cat did not eat the bulbs. There were no bulbs because the plants were cut and in a vase. In fact the story in the Sun does not tell us that the cat ate some of the tulips.

The ASPCA say that the symptoms of cat tulip poisoning are vomiting, depression, diarrhoea, hypersalivation. There is no mention of kidney damage. It appears a cat poisoned by tulips will normally recover and survive.

So I have wondered, possibly incorrectly, if the veterinarian misdiagnosed Kiki’s injury by poisoning. I wonder if they made an incorrect decision to put him down. Kiki was not an elderly cat.

Tulips are toxic to cats
Photo: Mercury Press. The cat is Kiki and the tulips are said to have killed her within 24 hours.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The story of Kiki

Juliet Cridlow rarely buys tulips. This was the third time. She put them in a vase and photographed her six-year-old cat, Kiki, next to the vase of tulips. That was the last picture of Kiki as the next morning she was laying on the bathmat unresponsive. Juliet picked up Kiki and she made a weak sound. Clearly something was very wrong and Juliet correctly diagnosed poisoning by the tulips although she was unaware that tulips were poisonous to cats. She had heard about lilies being poisonous but not tulips.

She rushed Kiki to the vet where she was told the tulips had poisoned her and damaged her kidneys. It took them 40 minutes to decide to euthanise Kiki.

Such a tragic story. It is so easy to get into this situation. One careless moment. Not even that because not everyone knows the toxicity of tulips with respect to domestic cats.

List of plants poisonous to cats

There is a huge list of plants toxic to cats. Please click this link to see it. I have a page on plants which are safe for cats as well. The list is much shorter and another page to find out if you are at the garden center which plants are toxic.

Conclusion

As to whether tulips are safe for cats, the clear answer is no, they are toxic to cats. But how toxic? The answer is not clear to me. The ASPCA indicates that tulips would not normally be fatal if ingested unless it is the bulbs. But the cat will be sick. That means a rapid visit to the veterinarian. The bottom line is to keep tulips out of a home where cats live.

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