A dried flower arrangement may make a stunning centerpiece to your dining or coffee table, but it can be deadly to your resident feline. Your curious cat might take a nibble of those tasty dried buds, ingesting a mouthful of either a potentially poisonous plant or one that was treated with toxic chemicals. For safety's sake, it's best to keep dried flowers and other plants away from Fluffy.
A surprising number of decorative flowers -- including lilies, tulips, chrysanthemums, amaryllis, buttercups, chamomile, daisies, azaleas, geraniums and gardenias -- are toxic to cats, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many florists use these colorful and sweet-smelling blossoms to create dried floral arrangements. Even the seemingly innocuous baby's breath flowers, which are commonly included in many fresh and dried floral arrangements, are toxic to cats. If your cat swallows any parts of these flowers, he can become very ill. Depending on how much your cat eats, he could experience everything from gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea and vomiting to collapse, irregular heartbeat and death.
Drying Chemicals and Other Dangers
While some dried floral arrangements are made without chemicals, many aren't. Manufacturers of dried flowers use chemicals including borax, synthetic glycerin and shellac to help them retain their color and life-like appearance even when dry, according to the University of Maryland Extension Program. All three of these chemicals are toxic if eaten by your cat. You might also find metal wires within the stems of dried flowers. Florists embed these wires within the stems to help them retain their shape and keep them standing tall. If your cat chews on these plants, he could potentially ingest pieces of these wires. The sharp pieces of metal can harm your cat's intestines and potentially be fatal if swallowed.
If your cat ingests any potentially toxic dried flowers, contact your local vet or the ASPCA Poison Control Center for advice on what to do. For cats who are having trouble breathing or who have collapsed, get your kitty to the vet right away; poisoning is an emergency situation. When you bring your cat to the vet, take the dried flower arrangement that he snacked on along. This way, your vet can examine the flowers and have them tested for toxins if necessary. The vet will likely induce vomiting and provide supportive care for your feline friend afterwards to prevent internal damage.
Most cats are curious creatures and tend to explore the world with their paws and mouths. Unfortunately, this can get them into trouble when it comes to eating plants, especially dried ones that have a crunchy texture similar to kibble. Even cat-safe flowers you dry yourself or those that are dried naturally could pose hidden dangers to your cat. For example, the sharp thorns you find on dried roses or other types of flowers could potentially injure him. Prevent problems by placing dried floral arrangements well out of the reach of your cat's climbing ability or in a room he can't access.