Are Carnations Poisonous to Cats?

Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) are only mildly toxic, but they can cause stomach upset. Diarrhea, drooling, loss of appetite and vomiting are indications that your cat may have chewed on carnations in the garden or in a bouquet. Consult your veterinarian if your cat has eaten carnations, pinks, sweet Williams or other Dianthus species.

Cat is looking from behind a tree
Cats eat a variety of plants to aid in digestion -- including carnations.
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Mildly Toxic Dianthus Species

Carnations, pinks, sweet Williams and other dianthus species contain triterpenoid saponins, which are stomach irritants. They usually make a cat sick only in the stomach. Because cats eat grass and plants, including carnations and their relatives, and often vomit afterward, it is hard to determine if one is sick because she ate a few carnation petals or because she munched on a grassy snack outside. In general, if a cat vomits once or twice, that usually clears her system of the irritant. If your cat has prolonged sessions of vomiting or diarrhea, take her to the veterinarian; she may have eaten something more poisonous than a carnation.

Extremely Toxic to Cats

While most plants, such as grass or carnations, cause simple vomiting or diarrhea to cats who ingest them, some plants are very poisonous. Components of these plants can cause extreme reactions and possibly death:

  • Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.): All parts.
  • Castor beans (Ricinus communis): All parts, especially the seeds, or beans.
  • Cylamen (Cylamen spp.): All parts, especially the tubers, or roots.
  • Lilies (Lilium spp.): All parts.
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander): All parts.
  • Sago palm (Cycas revoluta): All parts, especially the seeds, or nuts.
  • Yew (Taxus spp.): All parts.

If your cat eats any part of these plants, you don't have time to wait and see how she is doing; a trip to the veterinarian is essential to your cat's survival.