Plants and flowers in your garden, no matter how lovely and appealing they are, can pose a serious threat to your cats. Cats, like other animals, can be victims of their inquisitive nature, and their fascination with the beautiful flower you just bought can quickly escalate.

So, are peonies poisonous to cats?

Yes, peonies are poisonous to cats. Unfortunately, the beautiful peony is one of the types that are harmful to cats. Peonies do, in fact, contain a poison called paeonol, which is concentrated on the bark, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Pet Poison Helpline. This toxin can induce gastrointestinal disorders like vomiting and diarrhea if consumed in big amounts. Peony toxicity in cats, according to the numerous sources studied, is rather minor and does not result in death.

This article will tell you why you should keep cats away from peonies and how can you do it.

Are Peonies Poisonous To Cats?

What Are Peonies?

The peony or paeony is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae.

Asia, Europe, and Western North America are all home to peonies. Scientists disagree over how many species can be recognized, with estimates ranging from 25 to 40, however, the current consensus is 33. The interspecies relationships must be clarified further.

The majority are herbaceous perennial plants ranging in height from 0.25 to 1 meter (1–3 ft), although some are woody shrubs ranging in height from 0.25 to 3.5 meters (1–11 ft).

In late spring and early summer, they feature compound, deeply lobed leaves and big, frequently fragrant flowers in a variety of colors ranging from purple and pink to red, white, and yellow. The flowering period of the flowers is usually about 7–10 days.

In bloom, the peony is breathtakingly beautiful, with the fattest, most delectable blossoms and lush green leaves.

Plant peonies in the fall to build strong root systems, then enjoy stunning blooms from spring to summer. 

Peonies are annual flowers that return year after year to take your breath away. In fact, the plants may outlive you—some have been known to live for more than a century.

Peonies bloom from late spring to early summer, depending on where you live and which variety you have.

Early, midseason, and late blooming kinds are available at many nurseries, allowing you to extend the peony season and enjoy those wonderful blossoms for as long as possible!

Peonies grow well as far south as Zones 7 and 8 and are hardy to Zone 3. The rules for success in most of the United States are simple: provide full light and well-drained soil. Peonies enjoy chilly winters because they require cooling to produce buds.

Are Peonies Toxic To Cats?

Yes, peonies are toxic to cats.

Are Peonies Toxic To Cats?

Cats may be picky eaters, but there’s still a chance they’ll eat something toxic, like peony .

When swallowed in high quantities, the peony plant has a toxin that renders it poisonous to cats.

It’s unusual, but not impossible, for a cat to consume significant amounts of food.

Paeonol is the poison found in peony plants. The toxicity level of paeonol is normally modest, according to the Pet Poison Helpline website, and the toxin is largely concentrated in the plant’s woody stems.

Paeonol poisoning is unlikely in cats because they rarely eat woody garden plants.

Around forty species of perennial, herbaceous, or shrub plants belong to the genus Paeonia. The leaves are delicate or dark green, with a silvery appearance. The flowers can be fragrant, erect, and solitary, or cup or bell-shaped.

It is paeonol, a chemical found in the root barks of peonies like Paeonia suffruticosa, that causes the plant’s toxicity in animals including cats, dogs, and horses.

However, the toxin’s mechanism of action in cats has yet to be determined. Physiological responses, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even depression, have been observed in certain pets.

Only supervised pets should be allowed in the garden from the time the peonies’ shoots emerge in the spring until their foliage dies back in the fall.

Peonies in a cage discourage digging and snacking. Provide a remote garden corner for cats, complete with a sand-filled litter box, snacking grass, water, and perennial catnip in USDA zones 3 through 8. (Nepata x faassenii).

The message “cats are unwelcome” is reinforced by sprinkling coffee grounds around the peonies on a regular basis.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, spraying the plants with water and then sprinkling them with cayenne pepper deters both cats and dogs. Removing the water bowl for an hour after the animals have tasted the pepper helps to emphasize the point.

Although the peony is a beautiful plant that fills garden spaces with vibrant colors, it can be poisonous to cats. The plant has been linked to gastrointestinal problems in cats, dogs, and horses.

Peonies are somewhat harmful to cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and sadness in them if they consume them. It’s better if your cat doesn’t have access to the plant if he’s normally interested in plants or flowers.

Poisoning occurs most often when a cat consumes a considerable amount of peony plant bark. Paeonol is a high-concentration chemical found in the plant’s bark and roots. If you have peony in your garden, most cats are unlikely to eat the bark, thus they are safe.

However, the plant’s blooms and leaves contain glycosides, which might cause your cat’s stomach to upset. Peonies might conceivably poison your cat if consumed in excessive numbers.

Signs Of Peony Poisoning In Cats?

Peony poisoning will show mild symptoms in your cat. You may see your cat exhibit the following characteristics of illness if he ingests any part of the peony: –

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Stomach pain
  • Dehydration if vomiting becomes excessive


Paeonis officinalis is the scientific name for the peony, which belongs to the Paeoniaceae family. Due to its durability and capacity to thrive for decades, the peony is most usually seen as big bushes in gardens, although it has also been observed in the wild.

The plant is also available as a tree. This flowering perennial comes in a variety of hues and varieties. Here are three examples: –

  • Paeonia officinalis Rosea Plena (pink in color)
  • Paeonia officinalis Alba Plena (white in color)
  • Paeonia officinalis Rubra Plena (red in color)

The chemical paeonol and the effects it has on canines have not been well researched. Even though paeonol has pharmacological effects in modern medicine and is utilized in traditional Chinese medicine, it is well known that consuming big amounts of the peony plant will induce gastrointestinal upset in your cat.

Though the peony is a lovely plant with rich hues that brightens up outdoor settings, it is harmful to our cats.

The plant has been documented to cause gastrointestinal problems in cats, dogs, and horses. The major component, paeonol, is contained in the roots, however, all portions of the plant produce stomach upset.

Vomiting, for example, can lead to more serious problems including dehydration. If your pet ingests the peony plant, as with any potentially hazardous plant, a veterinary visit is recommended.

What To Do If Cat Has Ingested Peony?

If your cat has ingested peony and is showing signs of poisoning, veterinary aid must be provided immediately.

What To Do If Cat Has Ingested Peony?

If the long-lived plants’ magnificent floral displays aren’t enough to make peonies (Paeonia spp.) a garden must-have, the fragrant spring air is.

Throughout the fall, clumps of glossy, green peony leaf provide attractive backdrops for later-blooming plants.

Unfortunately for animal-loving gardeners, perfection has a dark side in the form of a poison that is deadly to animals.

If your cat’s gastrointestinal distress has progressed to the point where he or she is critically ill, the veterinarian may decide to use intravenous fluid treatment to restore electrolyte balance.

The fluids will also aid in the flushing of the kidneys and liver. If there is a mass of plant material in the belly, intravenous medicine to help the body clear the plant material can be given.

Antiemetics will also help your cat to stop vomiting and feeling sick. Fortunately, the majority of peony poisoning cases are minor.

Aged pets or those with underlying illnesses, on the other hand, may be more affected by hazardous plant intake than a young, healthy cat.

How To Diagnose Peony Poisoning In Cats?

If you have a lot of peony plants in your yard, as many gardeners do, you’ll notice that the plant begins to droop when the blossoms become too heavy. This puts this potentially deadly plant within reach of your cats, allowing those who prefer exploring the outside to try it.

If your cat is allowed to eat from the garden on a regular basis, it will have gastrointestinal trouble if it eats the peony plant.

A medical visit is required if you fear your cat has eaten from your peony bush or if he comes in from the yard and appears ill. If you see any foliage or flowers in or around your cat’s mouth, take the time to remove them before going to the clinic.

Many cats who eat the peony will have only minor side effects. Ca ts usually recover from a moderate digestive upset in a day or two, but if a significant amount of peony is consumed, vomiting and diarrhoea may become extreme.

If this is the case, the veterinary staff will take your pet’s basic vitals (heart rate, pulse, breathing sounds) as well as blood tests and a urinalysis to see if your cat is becoming dehydrated as a result of the gastrointestinal distress.

The veterinarian may also perform an abdominal examination to ensure that there is no remaining plant debris in the stomach.

How Do Cats Recover From Peony Poisoning?

When your cat returns home, make sure he has a quiet spot to relax and enough water to drink. Your cat will be back to normal in a day or two if the peony intake just produced a minor gastrointestinal upset.

If the peony intake resulted in gastrointestinal symptoms, the veterinarian will provide food recommendations to be followed during the healing period.

If your cat enjoys consuming plants and flowers, you may need to encircle your peonies with a fence. Some cat owners will plant veterinary-approved grasses in a secure section of the yard away from the garden to provide grazing options for their cats.

Grass should be grown in inside containers and the cat trained to eat just from this area, not from outside, in some circumstances.

How To Stop Cats From Eating Peonies?

You can stop cats from eating peonies by following these steps: –

How To Stop Cats From Eating Peonies?

1. Use Repellent Spray

There are a variety of strong-scented products on the market that can make your cat sneeze if it goes too close, or you can manufacture your own with common home items.

A mixture of water and a strongly scented soap (such as lavender or citrus) can be effective, or a puree of garlic in water can be used for a similar but more pungent effect.

For a similar effect, scatter some hot chilli pepper around your plants if you need to get more serious.

Just keep in mind that if the cats get too much in their nose or eyes, it might be uncomfortable. Use with caution.

2. Keep Them High

You may have to just move your plants out of the way of your cats, which might be difficult if your cats are really agile and determined.

Hanging baskets that aren’t too close to other pieces of furniture, or even containers that mount straight to the wall (no shelf) and are out of reach, can be useful.

3. Clean The Litter Box

This could be the reason why cats are going to your plant pots to relieve themselves, while some kitties will do it just to be challenging.

Ensure that their correct litter box is cleaned on a regular basis and is in a convenient position. If your cat is avoiding the litter box even when it is clean, switch to a different type of litter.

Cats can become finicky after years of using the same litter, so don’t dismiss this as a problem just because things have been “ok” for a long time.

4. Provide Them Safe Alternatives

You can sometimes divert a leaf-chewing cat’s attention away from your houseplants by supplying them with their own plants.

You can maintain a pot of mint, cat grass (which is actually a blend of oat and barley grass), or thyme instead of catnip. These are popular with cats, and they are absolutely safe to chew on occasion.

If you use a few of the other strategies for your “peony” plants, your decoy should become the focus of your cat’s attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Should I Plant Peonies?

Peonies make excellent sentinels for sidewalks or a low hedge. The peony’s bushy cluster of attractive glossy green leaves lasts all summer before turning purplish-red or gold in the fall, making it as majestic and dignified as any flowering shrub. Peonies go beautifully with columbines, baptisias, and veronicas in mixed borders, as well as irises and roses. Plant yellow irises and a froth of forget-me-nots with white peonies, and blue Nepeta or violets with pink peonies.

Final Words

Be mindful that cats are excellent at concealing their symptoms as a defence strategy to keep them safe. Even if your cat shows no signs of having eaten peony, you should contact your veterinarian. However, symptoms such as diarrhoea, tiredness, and vomiting are difficult to conceal. As a result, always be on the alert for your cat’s distress signals.

If you have any questions, ask us in the comments section.


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