Having an outdoor cat comes with some worries, especially if you or your neighbours are avid gardeners.
While some plants, flowers and herbs are beneficial to help promote healthy soil and a perfect mini-ecosystem, there are a number of plants that are extremely toxic to cats and may even cause something as fatal as death.
It is very important to understand which plants are considered safe for your little ones and inform those around you about pet-safe plants to ensure that no neighbourhood animals get sick, especially if there is a high population of strays in the area.
SO WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT MARIGOLDS?
Well, Marigolds are actually one of the most popular flowers to plant in gardens because they are bright and will attract a number of beneficial insects. Marigolds are also known to deter harmful creatures like worms.
The thing is, many cats and dogs are actually very interested in these beautiful flowers, putting them high up on the list of “is this plant a hazard?”
WHAT DOES THE ASPCA SAY?
The ASPCA is known as the easiest place to look up whether or not a plant is considered toxic to dogs, cats and oftentimes horses. The only issue I find with the ASPCA is the fact that it doesn’t give much more information.
All that being said, the ASCPA classifies Marigolds as non-toxic to cats and dogs.
SO ARE THERE ANY ISSUES WITH MY PETS NIBBLING ON MARIGOLDS?
Oftentimes, no. What do I mean by that? Well, as you can assume if your pets end up eating too much of these pretty flowers they will end up with gastrointestinal problems.
Other problems include excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting and skin irritation (often caused by sap that has been on the skin for too long.)
WHAT DO I DO IF MY CAT SHOWS ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS?
Honestly, you can probably ride these symptoms out with your pet as they don’t usually last long.
If your dog or cat shows sign of skin irritations make sure to use some warm water and pet safe shampoo to wash off any remnants of the sap. In this case, waterless shampoos tend to be less effective, however, if your cat doesn’t like water you can try out a waterless shampoo.
If any symptoms last for more than an hour it is best to take your dog or cat to the vet just to be extra safe.
BUT THERE ARE MULTIPLE FORMS OF MARIGOLDS, ARE THERE ANY THAT ARE TOXIC?
Yes and no. Pot Marigolds are known to be “harmless” to dogs and cats, though the tagetes form is known to cause more problems with cats.
Again, this toxicity is commonly very, very mild, though it should be taken seriously if symptoms last for more than an hour.
WHAT IS SOME AFTERCARE THAT A VET MAY RECOMMEND?
If a dog or a cat experience severe or prolonged symptoms a vet may recommend some fluid treatments to help flush their system from any of the toxins.
A vet may also facilitate some topical creams if skin irritation gets too serious, although again it is very uncommon that interactions with Marigolds are that serious.
WHAT ARE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALTERNATIVE PLANTS?
If you are concerned about your pets getting into the Marigolds or are just curious about plants that are still amazing pest controls I would check out basil and lavenders. Both provide a great smell for gardens and do virtually the same job as Marigolds without the worry of your little ones getting sick.
Other plants include sunflowers, petunias and nasturtiums which are very colourful and completely dog and cat safe.
Although Marigolds aren’t considered highly toxic for both cats and dogs, it is important to keep a close eye on your pet.
I would recommend training your pets to stay away from these plants, especially if they are outdoor cats. Deterring your cats from these beautiful flowers will also help deter them from eating other plants that may, in fact, be more toxic than Marigolds.
In general, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your animals to make sure that they show no signs of drooling, skin irritations, vomiting or diarrhea as they may cause dehydration in extreme cases, which can be detrimental.
That all being said, there should be no reason to alert the neighbours about the need to “ban” Marigolds from the neighbourhood as in most cases toxicity is extremely mild and symptoms pass fairly quickly.
So I’m curious pet parents, what plants do you have growing in your gardens that are pet safe? Let me know in the comments below and very happy gardening!