Thanksgiving cactus poisonous

Dogs and Dames − NPR's Mike McGrath Schools Us on Poisonous

January 4, 2013 – 10:52 am

Thanksgiving cactus

This holiday season, you may be decking your halls with balls of Charlie (that’s what I used to say when I was five) or holly or ivy. It’s a good idea to know what plants your cat would enjoy chewing and regurgitating.

I called Mike McGrath, the host of NPR’s . He had me on his show last year when I released my “Center Pivot Irrigation” video, so I knew he was the man to ask. I learned a whole host of facts about holiday plants and the myths surrounding their toxicity. Also, it turns out he has been rescuing cats for more than forty years!

According to Mike, the theory on poisonous plants is “90 percent hysteria and 10 percent diluted hysteria.” He says it’s like poisonous spider bites: an obligatory story for garden writers. There just aren’t enough documented cases to substantiate the fears.

“Cats have the remarkable quality of being able to throw up the entire contents of their stomachs … especially on a white carpet, ” Mike says. They will nibble on many plants, but not for long. Toxic plants do not taste good anyhow. If you want to satisfy their “primal need to chew on something and throw it up, ”put out cat grass.

While there are highly poisonous plants out there, chances are they will never end up on your window sill. You should put your cat-proofing efforts into your Christmas tree. Keep ornaments high and electrical wires off the ground!

Now chill out and bedeck your halls with balls, holly, and cat grass.

We wish you a very happy nontoxic holiday season!

Sarah, Dunkin, Shosha, Rory, Bean, Crumpet, Oatmeal, and Omelette

Which Plants Won’t Kill My Cat?
By Sarah Donner

Bittersweet, mistletoe, and Christmas rose
Chrysanthemum, holly, and burning bush
Jerusalem cherry, Thanksgiving cactus
Autumn crocus and amaryllis

These are some plants that won’t kill your cats
But they make ‘em real sick
And no one wants to clean up that

Adam and Eve, alocasia too
Lilies, carnations, and the American yew
Chamomile, garlic, fig, marijuana
Primrose, rhubarb, and deadly nightshade

Poor poinsettias, they got a bad rap
Their silica crystals are just like glass
The irritant present is inside the sap
It won’t kill your kitty, but it will make them yack

I chose the plants in my lyrics from the ASPCA’s listing of 398 plants toxic to cats. They were chosen for purposes of rhythm and rhyme, not fearmongering. Use common sense and call your vet if you have concerns!

Sources: Thanks to the ASPCA,, Gardens Alive!, and Mike McGrath

P.S. Got a question about cats, or life the universe and everything? ASK A CAT LADY! Use the comments section below and you might just get a response … in song.


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Sounds like you will be traveling...

I suggest you have a live flower sent to their home to arrive just before you get there... something like an azalea or a Thanksgiving cactus plant, or a Christmas Cactus plant.
While there, I recommend you be very active in helping prepare meals, serve and clean up after the meals.
Offer to do things like peeling the potatoes, set the table, etc.
Since you are going to be there for 4 days, offer to run the vacuum before guests arrive, etc.
Offer to make quick trips to the grocery store as you see the need.
If there are children in the family, help entertain the children to give their parents a break

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