Are Peonies Poisonous for Cats?

By Laura Payne

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Cats may be finicky eaters, but potential remains for them to eat something poisonous. Case in point: the peony. The peony plant contains a toxin that makes it poisonous to cats when ingested in large amounts. A cat's consumption of large amounts is unlikely but possible.

The Toxin in Peony Plants

The toxin in peony plants is called paeonol. The Pet Poison Helpline website indicates that the toxicity level of paeonol is generally mild and that the toxin is most concentrated in the plant’s woody stems. As cats do not usually eat woody garden plants, the risk of paeonol poisoning is slim.

Signs of Poisoning and What to Do

If you suspect your cat has ingested any portion of a peony plant, watch him for vomiting, diarrhea and depression. These are the signs of paeonol poisoning.

Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any signs of poisoning. If you see your cat eat part of a peony, do not force vomiting.

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Laura Payne has been freelance writing for several online publications in her free time since 2006. She holds a Master of Arts in linguistics from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Oakland University. Payne teaches linguistics classes at both universities on an adjunct basis.

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