Toxic plants

Is Cardinal Flower or Indian Pink Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Cardinal Flower or Indian Pink Toxic To Cats? 

Yes, the Cardinal Flower, commonly referred to as Indian Pink, is toxic to cats. This plant contains lobeline, a substance that disrupts the communication process of nerve cells from the brain to the spinal cord and other parts of the body. Immediate consultation with a veterinarian is essential for prompt treatment of cardinal flower poisoning.

This article is a product of our collaboration with a team of experienced DVMs (doctors of veterinary medicine). Their invaluable insights enable us to offer accurate and current information regarding the potential hazards of various plants, in this case, the Cardinal Flower. Furthermore, our findings are bolstered by comprehensive research from high-authority sources like ASPCA and PetMD, ensuring the utmost reliability of our information.

Clinical Signs of Cardinal Flower or Indian Pink Poisoning in Cats

Lobelia and cats

When a cat comes into contact with, smells, or ingests the Cardinal Flower, also known as Indian Pink, certain clinical symptoms can manifest due to the presence of lobeline in the plant. Immediate attention is crucial to prevent these symptoms from escalating into severe conditions. Here are the primary symptoms of cardinal flower poisoning, accompanied by explanations of why they might occur:

  1. Diarrhea: This is a common reaction in cats when they consume something toxic. Their body tries to expel the toxic substance as quickly as possible, leading to diarrhea.
  2. Vomiting: Similar to diarrhea, vomiting is another way the cat’s body attempts to rid itself of the harmful substance. The irritation caused by the plant in the stomach prompts this response.
  3. Salivation: The lobeline in the Cardinal Flower can cause an increase in saliva production. This is due to the plant’s irritant properties and the cat’s natural response to try and flush out or neutralize the irritant.
  4. Depression: Lobeline affects the nervous system, disrupting the communication process of nerve cells. This can lead to behavioral changes in cats, including a noticeable drop in their energy levels or general mood.
  5. Irregular heart rhythm: The toxic properties of the plant can directly impact the cat’s cardiac functions, causing disruptions in its heart rhythm.
  6. Abdominal pain: The ingestion of the plant can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to discomfort and abdominal pain in cats.

If you observe any of these symptoms in your cat after potential exposure to the Cardinal Flower, it is vital to seek veterinary assistance promptly.

First Aid and Treatment of Cardinal Flower or Indian Pink Poisoning in Cats

Lobelia with a cat in the background

Typical treatment of poisoning will be administered by the veterinarian which includes IV fluids, inducing vomit, and activated charcoal. The veterinarian may also prescribe medications to relieve diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms as needed. For severe liver damage, modification of diet may be required for your cat.

Recovery from Cardinal Flower or Indian Pink Poisoning in Cats


As long as your cat has no other underlying health condition and was given prompt medical attention, he or she will fully recover quickly. Continue giving support care at home while he or she is still regaining strength. Let your cat rest in a quiet and cozy environment as he or she may still be distressed from the poisoning incident.

Prevention of Cardinal Flower or Indian Pink Poisoning in Cats

If you have a cardinal flower at home like a house or garden plant, you should remove it immediately. If your cat got the poisoning from encountering cardinal flowers while out in your neighborhood, you should restrict their outdoor access to avoid reoccurrence of poisoning in the future. Try to do some research before buying or growing plants to make sure they are not hazardous to cats.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

Read Our Recent Posts
And Learn More
Read All