Toxic plants

Are Paperwhites Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Paperwhite Toxic To Cats? 

The phenanthridine alkaloids found in daffodils, the most common of which is lycorine, are poisonous to cats. Paperwhite contains toxins such as glucoside scillaine, galantamine, calcium oxalate crystals, and narciclasine. Although the toxins are concentrated in the outer layers of the bulb, a significant amount of toxins can also be found in the flowers and stems. As a result, if a cat eats both the foliage and the bulbs, he or she may become poisoned.

What Is Paperwhite?

Paperwhite with a cat in the background

Paper White is a Mediterranean endemic perennial bulbous plant. However, several narcissus species have become widely naturalized in North America. The plant produces white flowers that bloom in clusters and have a distinct fragrance. It’s popular as a houseplant, and it’s frequently forced to bloom around the holidays. 

There are numerous cultivars available that are simple to force into bloom indoors. Paperwhites, unlike other Narcissus species, do not require chilling to bloom. The bulbs start growing as soon as they are planted, and flowers appear in three to four weeks. Narcissus papyraceus grows best in moist, peat-based potting soil. Plants can also be grown in water-filled containers.

Narcissus and its hybrids are frequently utilized to beautify and accent gardens and landscapes because of its vividly colorful trumpet-shaped flowers, which appear in many colors and tones of yellow, white, orange, pink, red, and green.

Clinical Signs of Paperwhite Poisoning in Cats

Paperwhites with a cat in the background


Symptoms of paperwhite ingestion can appear in as little as 15 minutes or as late as 24 hours; in most cases, clinical signs appear quickly. The severity will vary depending on the size and species of the animal, as well as the amount consumed.

The typical symptoms of paperwhite flower poisoning that cats may exhibit include the following:

If an at consumes a huge portion of this flower, more serious clinical symptoms may develop such as:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Sedation
  • Shivering
  • Muscular tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Respiratory depression
  • Kidney damage

First Aid and Treatment of Paperwhite Poisoning in Cats

Paperwhite and cats

Because no specific treatments for paperwhite poisoning have been developed, your veterinarian will treat your cat based on its symptoms. Your vet will flush remaining plant bits from your cat’s mouth by gently washing it out with cool water. Your veterinarian will not have to force your cat to vomit. One of the toxins’ emetic properties will cause your cat to vomit on its own. If your cat has vomited frequently, your vet may decide to perform gastric lavage to clean out its stomach.

If your cat has been severely poisoned by paperwhite ingestion, your veterinarian may recommend fluid therapy, dexamethasone, and atropine. Your pet should recover well as a result of this supportive care.

Recovery from Paperwhite Poisoning in Cats

Your cat should be able to fully recover after receiving veterinarian attention. Depending on how badly the cat was poisoned and how much of the plant it ate, recovery can take anywhere from 24 hours to a week.

Prevention of Paperwhite Poisoning in Cats

Remove all paperwhite flowers from your house and yard. Make sure to properly dispose of plant parts so that your cat cannot get to the dried stems, leaves, flowers, or bulbs. Plant cat-safe grasses to satisfy your cat.

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

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