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cats and plants advice needed

I might be getting a cat. She is already mostly indoor and might be here too. Are there any plants I need to completely get rid of? She's a clever cat and I imagine she'll just avoid anything dangerous?

I have 6 amaryllis, outside at the moment but usually brought in in the Autumn. Other houseplants here aspidistra, philodendron (I think, it's a creeper type), goosefoot plant (Syngonium podophyllum), yukka and happy plant (dracena massangeana) and on the kitchen windowsill, orchid, Ajwain and rubber plants.

Outside I have lots of oriental lilies in the border and asiatic lilies in pots. Is it true that lilies are posioness to cats? Is it really the whole plant or just the pollen?

On another vein - will I see a reduction in the garden wildlife if the cat is around? Currently we have regular squirrels and small birds visiting the garden.

Thanks in advance.


  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,327

    All parts of lilies - including day lilies - are toxic to cats. Whether you need to get rid of them depends on the cat. It's not so much whether she's clever, more whether she is inclined to eat plants. Most cats don't - my Mum was a keen gardener and kept cats for decades without poisoning any of them. Nor did they go in for eating house plants. But that's not to say yours wouldn't. Kittens are more of a risk than an adult cat because they'll try things out. 

    I would keep a watchful eye for the first few weeks and see if she's taking an unhealthy interest in the greenery. Try to discourage her and try to keep your house plants somewhere not easily accessible especially from the places she chooses to sleep. I would think about keeping the lilies all in pots and the pots somewhere hard to reach (or get rid of them).

    As for wildlife again, it varies a lot. Mum's last 2 cats, one was a very adept hunter who would catch a rabbit every Sunday for his lunch (I'm not even making it up). He also caught moles for a pass time. He'd sit on the lawn 2 feet from birds hopping about and not bat an eyelid - no interest in them at all - and as far as I know he never caught a mouse, rat or other rodent. His brother cat caught the neighbour's goldfish image but never anything that had the option of flying or running away. He was rubbish (I watched him trying to sneak up on a blackbird once by hiding behind a crocus. I swear the blackbird gave me an old-fashioned look before wearily flapping a couple of feet further off and sniggering under his wing).

    But we also had cats that made a habit of catching birds and mice. Again, you'll have to see what she's like when you get her home. If she's a born hunter but doesn't go out much, consider putting a bell on her to warn the birds. I doubt a squirrel would care two hoots, cat or not. They are still all over my garden and I have 3 sight hounds who try very hard to catch them. The squirrels just sit in a tree and laugh.

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531

    Many garden plants, including most of the lily family, are poisonous if eaten by mammals, including cats and humans.  Cats rarely eat plants, except grass which they nibble to induce vomiting when they've got a furball.  I heard of a cat that died after brushing against lilies in a vase, getting pollen on its fur and licking it off.  But hey, lots of gardens have lilies, lots of cats wander around other people's gardens, and they aren't dropping like flies.  Cats are adventurous and you can't protect them from everything, unless you confine them to the house, and that's not much of a life.  For a cat that goes outdoors, I'd think traffic is a greater hazard than poisoning by garden plants.

    I don't have a cat, but lots of other people's cats visit my garden, and the birds still come to the feeders.  If your cat kills things, you and the birds just have to make up your mind whether the benefit of the food is worth the risk.  Squirrels are much better climbers than cats, so as long as there's a fence or a tree, they will escape.

  • wakeshinewakeshine Posts: 967

    Thank you both so much for this excellent advice. Also do I need to stop using slug pellets? I grow a lot of dahlias and have been using them all over the garden. I don't think there is much I can do about the pellets that are already scattered...most of it is on the soil around the plants, not on the patio.

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,327

    Well I would say yes for the sake of all wildlife as well as your cat. There are better ways to protect plants from slugs. I think you can get slug pellets that are supposed to be safe but I just wouldn't go there myself. I use nematodes in the veg garden, slug picking elsewhere and do what I can to encourage birds and toads and hedgehogs to hang out at my place (dogs, feral cats and foxes notwithstanding). I grow dahlias, hostas, and even delphiniums. I wouldn't say they have no holes in the leaves at all, but they do grow and flower perfectly well with never a slug pellet in the house image

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,314

    On another vein - will I see a reduction in the garden wildlife if the cat is around?

    IMHO, YES, 

  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653

    Agree with Raisin & hosta, might not be the best idea to provide boxes, feed and attract birds if you have a cat around. If you do, make sure you have the feeder and bird bath in nice open sites, with no place that a cat can pounce from. 

    I find lambs wool pellets & a mulch of grit to be very effective against slugs & snails here. Nematodes are great also if you have a small/medium sized area 

    Lily's can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested (pollen included) I do believe. Many cat owners are unaware of this, especially with cut flowers in the house. 

    Last edited: 26 July 2017 13:44:57

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,531

    If slugs are a problem, I suggest you treat yourself to "the little book of slugs" from the Centre for Alternative Technology. It suggests many non-toxic ways to control them.

  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,601

    If you put a bell on the cat be sure the collar has a section of elastic or a quick release or your cat may hang itself . Will you see a reduction in wildlife? Our rabbits moved out PDQ when the cats arrived and we only see dead rats but everything else is abundant. Some cats hunt but British wildlife has existed beside domestic cats for so long that they cope very well. Even the RSPB says cats are not a major problem.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,314

     "Even the RSPB says cats are not a major problem."

    I think RSPB also say that domestic cats are responsible for the deaths of around 55 million garden birds. 

    I , for one, consider that a major problem. Others are free to disagree.

  • wakeshinewakeshine Posts: 967

    Yes the RSPB article is a little contradictory. I saw it earlier too. It seems to be referring to certain species of birds not necessarily al found in the garden.

    Posy - I don't think I'll put a collar on the cat as she has long hair and I also read somewhere it can be a hazard to the cat

    Raisingirl - yes I really need to stop using slug pellets. I'm using Eraza which are apparently 5X more effective too, they have really worked but I will refrain from using anymore and get the book suggestion from josusa47.

    Thanks all x

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