Are Sunflowers Toxic To Cats?

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As a cat owner, you should be familiar with what is toxic or harmful to your pet, and that includes sunflowers. If you have plants in your home, you might notice your cat taking a nibble of the flowers or leaves from time to time.  This is more harmful to your plants than your cat, as long as you have non-toxic plants. Do you know which plants and flowers are safe for your cat? We have done the research to provide you with an explanation of the relationship between your cat and sunflowers.

Sunflowers are not toxic to cats. However, as with any plant, if your cat ingests too much, they run the risk of an upset stomach. 

You can enjoy having a vase of sunflowers in your home with peace of mind. Read on as we discuss other flowers that are safe for your cat and how to deter your cat from eating your houseplants.

A cat sitting next to a vase with sunflowers, Are Sunflowers Toxic To Cats?

Sunflowers are a popular house plant

Two cute cats sitting near the window with a sunflower in a vase upfront

Sunflowers or the Helianthus species are eye-catching flowers that can be enjoyed in your garden, potted indoors, or cut and placed in a vase for your home. Your curious cat is likely to nibble on these perennial plants. Lucky for you and them, eating the flower, and even the leaves, is not a risk for toxicity in your cat.

Let’s take a closer look at other aspects of the sunflower.

Are sunflower seeds toxic to cats?

Like the rest of the sunflower, the flower’s seeds are not toxic to cats. The seeds may not be toxic, but they aren’t the best choice of treat for your cat either. Why isn’t it safe to share your tasty sunflower treats with your cat?

A three colored cat sleeping on a ripe sunflower

Sunflower seeds still in their hard shells are difficult to bite into. Shelled, these seeds pose less of a choking hazard -or a chipped tooth! Often, shelled sunflower seeds are prepared with seasonings or other ingredients. While the seeds themselves are not toxic, these extra flavorings can be. It is best to avoid feeding any form of sunflower seed to your cat.

Fortunately, most cats aren’t attracted to sunflower seeds, so if you’re having some, Kitty is most likely to ignore them.

Is Sunflower Oil Poisonous To Cats?

Sunflower oil is not poisonous to cats. Being rich with omega-6 fatty acids, this oil can provide health benefits for your cat. Having sunflower oil in limited quantities, and as part of a balanced diet, won’t hurt your cat. However, it’s not particularly necessary either.

As a rule of thumb, supplementing with any kind of oil tends to add more calories to the feline diet. When given in excess, the main risk is weight gain, which is usually not a desirable effect for most cats. What’s more, providing too much fat from vegetarian sources could satiate your cat’s appetite before she’s had her fill of animal-sourced nutrients. Last, but not least, for some cats, an excessive amount of oil can cause an upset stomach and even lead to diarrhea.

Sunflowers, sunflower seeds and a pitcher with sunflower oil on the table

Some commercial cat food diets will contain sunflower oil. Check the ingredients to see if that’s the case. Oil-enriched formulas are fine, as long as they provide your cat with a complete and balanced diet. And again, while a small amount of sunflower oil won’t be a problem, there’s no need to supplement your cat’s diet with this type of oil.

Looking for more information on oils for your cat? Read our blog post, “Should You Add Coconut Oil To Your Cat’s Food?”.

What Other Flowers Are Safe For Cats?

Decorating your home with flowers from the garden always brightens the mood. We know that cut sunflowers on the table won’t harm your cat, but it is nice to have options when making floral arrangements. Are you wondering what other non-toxic flowers are available for your bouquet? Other flowers that are safe for your cat include:

  • Roses
  • Alstroemeria
  • Gerbera Daisies
  • Orchids
  • Celosia

A bombay cat sitting on the couch with flowers on the background

Let’s look into the details of these non-toxic flowers.

Roses

We often associate roses with romance and will see an abundance of these red beauties, especially around Valentine’s Day. The rose flower is safe for your cat, but be aware of the thorns on the stem.

A small little kitten sitting on a small wooden basket next to pink roses

Eating the stem and thorns creates a risk of gastrointestinal upset or even an intestinal blockage. If you find your cat is interested in the stems of your roses, place them in a vase or area where the stems are not accessible.

Alstroemeria

Alstroemeria is also referred to as a Peruvian lily. You may have heard how incredibly toxic lilies are for cats, and this information is true. The majority of lilies contain toxins that will cause acute kidney failure in your cat, but the Peruvian lily will not. When ingested in larger amounts, alstroemeria can cause vomiting and diarrhea for a short time.

An up close photo of a Peruvian lily on a garden

Read more about lily toxicity and cats from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration here.

Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera daisies or “Gerber daisies” come in various colors and will brighten up any table. This specific type of daisy is non-toxic for your cat but be aware of other types of daises. Some daisies that are toxic to cats include mums, chamomile, and seaside daisies.

A Calico maine coon cat lying near a window with flowers on a vase at the background

Orchids

Orchids are part of the Orchidaceae family and are perfectly safe for your cat. These vibrant flowers live years with proper care and come in a variety of types. Popular types of orchids include Miltonia orchids, Vanda orchids, Oncidium orchids, and Cattleya orchids. Having orchids in your home is a safe bet because all types are considered non-toxic to your cat.

A cat smelling staring and smelling an orchid plant

Celosia

Celosia is a bright, beautiful flower. They are named after the Greek word for “burned” due to their flame-like appearance. This flower is non-toxic to your cat and is even edible for you. These attributes make it a practical and pretty flower for your home.

A cute white kitten sitting near the window with a celosia flower plant in the vase

These are just a few flowers that are considered safe for your cat. Do your research when bringing any new plant or flower into your home to ensure the safety of your cat.  If your cat ingests any part of a flower you are not familiar with, please follow up with a veterinarian for advice.

What Happens If Cats Eat Flowers?

What will happen to your cat if they eat flowers depends on which flower they eat. If Kitty nibbles on some sunflowers, then no harm is done (at least, not to the cat). However, toxic flowers like lilies and daffodils can cause serious, even deadly conditions for felines. Ingesting a toxic flower may lead to kidney or liver failure and even to some respiratory conditions.

You have taken the precautions and only brought non-toxic or safe flowers into your home. There is no concern for major health issues if your cat nibbles on these. However, if they ingest a large amount, they can experience vomiting and diarrhea or other gastrointestinal related issues.

A ragdoll tortie point cat lying down and smelling a sunflower

If you are concerned with symptoms your cat has, it is always best to consult a veterinary professional.

Will Cats Eat Toxic Plants?

Unfortunately, your cat will eat toxic plants. Plants release their toxins when they are disturbed as a defense mechanism. Your cat cannot detect these toxins ahead of time.

For some flower species, even coming in contact with the pollen of the flower can cause toxicity. Your curious cat cannot tell the difference between a dangerous and a safe plant. Protecting your cat’s health is up to you!

How Do You Keep Your Cat From Eating Flowers?

Your cat can be extremely motivated to eat your houseplants and flowers. If you find that your cat is destroying your living house decorations, there are a few ways to discourage this behavior. One of the easiest ways to stop your cat from eating your flowers is placing your plants strategically in your home. If your cat can’t reach them, they cannot eat them.

Even if you think you know your cat’s limits when it comes to jumping on a particular shelf, keep Kitty safe by making sure no toxic varieties are present in the house.

If your cat is still finding a way to get to your plants after moving them, try adding material to your plant that your cat dislikes. Cats are turned off by citrus or acidic flavors. Spraying your plant leaves with a vinegar mixture or adding an orange peel to the soil can create a sour taste, turning your cat away. The spice of cayenne pepper is on the list of cat dislikes. Sprinkling the pepper around the plant will keep your cat from eating your flowers.

Making sure your cat’s environment is stimulating will keep them busy and distracted from your plants. Read more on our blog post, “How To Choose The Best Toy For Your Cat.”

In Summary

Sunflowers are not toxic to cats. There is a whole list of safe flowers to fill your home with as a cat owner. Always research the flower or plant you are bringing into your home to avoid serious health conditions for your cat. Your cat cannot tell the difference between toxic and non-toxic plants; please take the precaution necessary to keep your companion safe. We hope you found this article helpful in choosing your cat-friendly houseplants.

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