Is hibiscus really toxic to cats?
December 4, 2009 7:07 PM   Subscribe

Is hibiscus really toxic to cats (not dogs)? I need to bring in our two big tree-like hibiscus tonight -- it's going to freeze soon -- but we have nowhere really good to store them, and we have kittens here.

I know that hibiscus is toxic to dogs. I know that some plants, e.g. lilies, are deadly to cats. I know where there are big lists of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to cats, and that some don't list hibiscus, though at least one does -- although that list might include it just because it's toxic to dogs/pets in order to be extra safe.

Does anybody know for sure whether hibiscus is poisonous to cats? Just pointing me to a non-qualified "list of plants toxic to cats" won't help much -- I need something authoritative, or at least a personal anecdote one way the other. Please?

Of course it's safest to just keep them away, which we'll do by default, and the plants might be vulnerable to the kittens -- but we'd end up having to keep the kittens out of a fun room in the house, and it would be nice to have the "temptation" of the fun-looking tree-like plants available so we could carefully train the kittens to respect house plants (if such a thing is possible).
posted by amtho to Pets & Animals (7 answers total)

In reality, you can find a long list of houseplants that are toxic to pets. They would usually have to be ingested in large amounts to actually cause damage. I'm not saying that I know that the kittens are safe, and kittens would be more likely to chew on random shit. But I doubt they're in much danger. The LD50 seems pretty high (on rats, anyway). Never a bad idea to play it safe, and good that you're thinking of it.
posted by Red Loop at 7:54 PM on December 4, 2009

Throw a sheet of plastic over the plants. Put christmas lights on the ground under the plastic,
and turn them on (real C& or C9 bulbs, incandescent). The plants can live outside, and the
cats can live inside, and you won't have to worry.
posted by the Real Dan at 8:22 PM on December 4, 2009

For future readers: I just learned that LD50 is 'Lethal Dose to 50% of test subjects'. Cool.

Yeah, I think I'd seen the ASPCA's page, but I don't completely trust it: Hibiscus is very toxic to dogs, apparently (from other pages), but I've not seen the same vivid warnings against cats. And the ASPCA page says "Toxic Principles: Unknown" (although I did find out that apple leaves/seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides from their site). Also, the symptoms listed are not as severe as those given for lilies (although of course vomiting and diarrhea can be very severe if untreated or intense), making me wonder if it's more that the sap is an irritant, or something.
posted by amtho at 4:55 AM on December 5, 2009

Why take the chance?
posted by sickinthehead at 6:03 AM on December 5, 2009

Why take the chance, indeed, especially with baby animals.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:19 AM on December 5, 2009

I'm not taking the chance. I'm trying to find out for sure before unleashing the baby kitties. Said kitties are asleep on my desk right now, safe and warm, I promise (although I think one of them has a cold).
posted by amtho at 9:04 AM on December 5, 2009

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