Ask Dr. Jenn: What kind of Valentine's Day flowers are safe for cats?
I want to buy my girlfriend flowers for Valentine’s Day, but she has two cats that may chew on them. What kind of flowers can I give her that won’t harm her cats?
Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a beautiful bouquet of roses. Lucky for you (and not so lucky for your wallet) roses are safe for cats, dogs, and other pets.
If your relationship isn’t ready for roses, fortunately there are plenty of other safe and beautiful flowers. Daisies, carnations, snap dragons, and zinnias come in a variety of colors and are all safe for pets. Throw in some sunflowers to make a stunning mixed bouquet. If you want something that lasts a little longer, consider a potted plant, such as an orchid or a violet.
Lilies are an absolute no. All parts of a lily are toxic to cats – the flowers, leaves, stems, and even the water in the vase. Ingestion of any part of a lily causes severe kidney damage and potentially death. Even just a few nibbles on a lily are enough to cause lifelong illness in a kitty. If your girlfriend likes the look of lilies, ask for Alstroemeria in the bouquet. They have a similar shape and appearance as lilies but are not toxic.
Other flowers and plants to avoid include daffodils and tulips. Although it is the bulbs that are most toxic, the flowers and leaves can cause gastrointestinal upset. Toxic potted plants include sago palm, peace lily, and shamrock plant. Cyclamens are very popular colorful plants this time of year. Unfortunately, they are also toxic. Ingestion can lead to severe vomiting and diarrhea. Ivy, either used in a bouquet or as a potted plant, is also harmful to pets.
This list is not all inclusive. My advice is to find a knowledgeable florist who is comfortable arranging pet safe bouquets. You can also find lists of safe and toxic flowers on the ASPCA website.
In some cases, it may be better to avoid flowers all together. Some kitties can’t resist knocking the vase off the table, leaving shards of glass and water all over. Even safe flowers can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats with sensitive tummies.
If your heart is set on flowers, consider creative and safe alternatives, such as silk flowers, candy flowers, or a Lego flower bouquet. If you really want to warm both your girlfriend and her feline friends’ hearts, you can’t go wrong with a catnip plant.
Many people are only familiar with dried catnip, usually found in small bottles and with an appearance similar to herbs. The catnip plant is a member of the mint family of plants. It can be grown either outside in the garden or as an indoor potted plant. Check with your local greenhouse to see if they have any catnip plants you can put in a cute pot or buy some seeds and grow your own. Under the proper conditions, the seeds will start to sprout in one to two weeks.
I hope that you have a wonderful and safe Valentine’s Day with your girlfriend and her feline friends. Send me a picture of your “cat friendly” gift!