Dr. Dan Christian specializes in small animal medicine, with special interests in behavior and nutrition. He has been instrumental in establishing animal behavior residencies for veterinarians at leading veterinary schools and developing innovative programs with veterinary organizations in the United States. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. During his professional career, Dr. Christian earned the American Association of Feline Practitioners Award. He has also appeared as a guest on television and radio pet health programs
nationwide, and to has authored numerous articles for pet health magazines.
Q: I have two kittens. Recently my husband bought me some tulips, and I saw the kittens eating one of my tulips (chewing on the petals and stem). There were three tulips, and now there is only one. I don't know if the cats ate them or hid them. Are they poisonous? What should I do for the kitties?
A: It is not unusual for kittens (and cats) to explore plants and flowers in the house. Their normal behavior in the outdoors is to use planted areas as a litter box, so they are naturally drawn to explore plants inside. But good for you that you have made them house cats -- they are much safer and more secure there.
Tulips are not considered poisonous, but consuming a stem and petals may certainly contribute to a bout of diarrhea. You may even notice some vomiting simply from the ingestion of the fiber and the volume of plant matter they consumed. If you continue to notice your kittens eating plants or flowers in the house, you may want to keep a spray water bottle around to give them a negative experience when they jump up and chew on the flowers. Or you can spray the area with citrus, a natural repellant for cats. When you're not around, it's a good idea to keep the plants out of reach.
If your kittens continue to experience intestinal upset, be sure to take them to your veterinarian for an examination and proper medication.