Hyacinth is a name given to ornamental garden and house flowering plants that belong to the genus Hyacinthus, under the family Asparagaceae (formerly family Liliaceae).
They grow on bulbs and have fragrant, dense-spiked flowers that come in various colors including deep purple, pink, white, red, yellow, lavender, blue and apricot.
Finally, this plant has green leaves and slightly exposed bulbs that look like onions or shallots.
Are they poisonous?
Yes. Hyacinths are poisonous to cats, other animals, and even human beings. Their stems, leaves, flowers, and bulbs are poisonous with the bulbs being their most toxic parts.
a). Toxicity principle
The principle these ornamental plants of toxicity is due to oxalic acids, and specifically the “calcium oxalate raphides” as well as the presence of “alkaloids such as lycorine,” notes the Illinois University Library. Also, allergenic lactones are a common culprit.
As you know, oxalic acid will cause calcium oxalate crystal in cats as well as damage their kidney, reduce urine production, bind with calcium causing hypocalcemia (low calcium), among other symptoms we are going to list shortly.
b). How does it happen?
Toxicity can happen via ingestion, inhalation, or topical contact.
- Ingestion – Your cat may ingest hyacinth leaves, flowers, stem, and bulbs that are often exposed from the ground or dig them up.
- Topical contact – Topical contact will result in mild or minor skin irritation, itchiness, or redness. On seldom occasions, you may notice blisters.
- Inhaling it – If inhaled, it may cause nasal irritation, breathing difficulties, wheezing, coughing, and other allergies symptoms to susceptible cats.
Depending on the amount ingested or means of contact, some of the generalized signs of toxicity include the following:
- Reduced appetite
- GI irritation and colic
- Drooling if ingested or eaten
- Excessive vomiting and diarrhea which may, on some occasions, be blood-stained.
- Finally, in case of severe poisoning, depression, tremors, breathing difficulties, et cetera may occur.
Is grape hyacinth safe
Grape hyacinth, bluebells or Muscari are lawn, garden or container ornamental plants with summer-blooming bluish-purple flowers. These flowers have an urn shape and form bunches that resemble grapes.
Some Muscari sp. such as the tassel grape hyacinths (Leopoldia comosa) have edible bulbs and should not be confused with any Hyacinthus sp. as the latter have toxic bulbs. While these two are members of the subfamily Scilloideae, their genera are different.
Grape hyacinth is not toxic to cats and therefore a safe option if you insist on having flowers from the subfamily Scilloideae.
What about water hyacinths
Belonging to the family Pontederiaceae, water hyacinths are safe for cats.
Talk to your vet
If your cat or kitten has ingested any part of this ornamental plant, talk to your vet for further diagnosis and treatment.
If you have this plant or any other toxic one in your garden, lawn or containers, use safe repellents, cage container flowers, cat-proof your garden and yard, and so on to ensure your feline pal does not access them.
When handling them, wear gloves as they will cause mild irritation to your skin if they come intact with it.