Wondering if your beautiful blooming roses are toxic to your cat? Here's what you should know about these spring and summer blooms.

By Jennifer Nelson
June 08, 2021
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Mmmm inhale deeply. Roses are in full bloom right now. If you're lucky enough to have some rose bushes in your yard or screened porch where your kitty hangs out, you may wonder if roses are toxic to your cat. Owners report they've occasionally caught a kitty licking or munching on their precious rose petals from time to time. Their sweet scent may attract cats over for a taste. Most often find out quickly that the flower is not that yummy, however, a few end up with a penchant for eating the roses. The good news is that roses by themselves are not toxic to cats, says Dr. Maureen K. Murithi, veterinary spokesperson for ExcitedCats.com, a digital magazine for cat lovers. "They may experience a stomach upset accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea though not severe if they munch on the leaves, stem, or petals, which may warrant a visit to the veterinarian," she says.

Are Roses Poisonous to Cats?
Credit: Martin Poole/Getty Images

Pesticides and rose spray products are a problem

"However, the chemicals (pesticides) sprayed on roses are poisonous upon ingestion," Dr. Murithi says. If you or your landscaper don't use pesticides on your roses, all is OK. If your cat does get a taste of sprayed roses, symptoms of pesticide toxicity include:

  • Drooling
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

Look out closely for any of these signs of illness. If your cat develops them bring her to your vet right away.

Watch out for thorns

If your kitty plays in a rose bush, the plant could bite back. "Thorns found on rose stems may injure cats during play or if they decide to eat them," says Dr. Murithi. So, if your kitty gets in a fight with a rose bush, check her out for any injuries or wounds. If they're small, a little antibiotic ointment can help them heal.

Other plants with rose in the name

Aside from real roses, which are nontoxic to your cats, if you have other plants that have rose in their name, you'll need to watch your kitties closely around them. For instance:

The Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) is poisonous to cats.
The Desert rose (Adenium obesum) contains a sap that is poisonous to kitties.
Moss rose (Portulaca oleracea) are succulents that are toxic to cats.
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a plant that is toxic to cats.
Rosebay (also called rhododendron) has leaves that are highly toxic to cats.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) contains primrose oil that is poisonous to your cats.

As with most plants in your home or yard, take care that while you're stopping to smell the roses, your kitty keeps her mouth off any that could do her harm. And as always, check with your vet if you have any specific questions or concerns.