Is amaryllis toxic to cats?
Amaryllis (Belladonna lily) is toxic to cats. The toxic principles are Amaryllidaceae alkaloids which cause vomiting and diarrhea and irritant sap.
What is amaryllis?
Amaryllis is a beautiful bulbous flowering perennial native to South Africa. Its large, showy trumpet-shaped pink flowers form in clumps and bloom in late summer to early autumn. Flowers are produced on a leafless purple stem, hence the name naked lady. Foliage develops in autumn, through to late winter.
- Family: Amaryllidaceae
- Scientific name: Amaryllis belladonna
- Common names: Jersey lily, Belladonna-lily, Naked lady, or March lily
- Toxic compounds: Amaryllidaceae alkaloids, specifically lycorine
Note: Hippeastrum is often erroneously labelled as Amaryllis, however, they are two different plants. Amaryllis is native to South Africa and has pink flowers on a leafless stem. Hippeastrum is a popular red or red and white flowering bulb that blooms at Christmas time.
Hippeastrum is also toxic to cats and will be covered in another article.
Level of toxicity
- Mild to moderate
Calcium oxalate crystals
- Oral pain, drooling, gum swelling
- Skin irritation if exposed to the sap
- Abdominal pain
Lycorine is the primary alkaloid responsible for gastrointestinal signs which include:
Other alkaloids are present in smaller amounts, and can cause:
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Respiratory depression
What should I do if my cat has been exposed?
Contact your veterinarian or your local poisons helpline for advice.
The treatment of choice for most types of poisoning is gastrointestinal decontamination (induce vomiting) if the exposure was recent.
- Activated charcoal to bind to the remaining toxins in the gastrointestinal tract
- Fluids to maintain hydration until the cat recovers
- Nutritional support
Keep plants and flowers which are toxic to cats out of the home, especially if your cat is prone to nibbling plants.