While it's fine for your cat to stop and smell the roses, it can be a different story if she tries to eat them.
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gray cat pawing at a pink rose
Credit: Anna Vereshchak / Getty

Love is in the air! Roses are a classic, thoughtful gift that are sure to make your loved one smile on Valentine's Day, your anniversary, or any other special occasion. Whether you have a green thumb or love to collect plants and flowers—roses, in particular—you might wonder which are safe to keep around your cat.

Our curious kitties love to investigate anything aromatic, especially plants and flowers. So, being their natural, lovable selves, they'll nudge against them, smell them, and maybe even eat them to see if they taste as good as they smell. However, this can be dangerous—and even fatal—depending on the flower or plant. So much so that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center ranked bouquets and plants fifth on their list of top 10 pet toxins—yikes!

But are roses toxic to cats?

Fortunately, roses are a safe option to have in and out of your home. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you have these fragrant flowers around your kitty.

Are Roses Poisonous to Cats If They Eat Them?

"Roses are not considered to be a concern for poisoning," says Renee Schmid, DVM, DABVT, DABT, and Senior Veterinarian Toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline. "However, gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea) may occur if ingested."

So, while you won't have to worry about the petals, leaves, and stems being poisonous, keep a close eye on your cat if you see her doing more than just stopping and smelling the roses.

And let's not forget—every rose has its thorn. "The stems that still have thorns may cause trauma to the mouth when chewed," Schmid says. Ouch!

Prickly stems can cause your cat pain and discomfort. Signs of trauma to your cat's mouth may appear as:

Consult with your veterinarian if you notice these signs in your cat.

If you can't resist having a beautiful bouquet of roses in your home, Schmid recommends removing the thorns on any cut arrangements.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Roses

Cats love to gnaw on anything that their incredible sense of smell draws them to. And contrary to OutKast's "Roses," these prickly shrubs smell delightful … delightful enough for cats to eat. If your cat eats roses, how you should proceed depends on how much she eats.

"If a large amount is ingested, it may be good to have vomiting induced with your pet's veterinarian," Schmid says. "Otherwise, offering a small amount of their regular diet may help minimize the risk of GI upset. There is no safe way to induce vomiting in cats at home."

Other Flowers That Are Toxic and Non-Toxic for Cats

Flowers Toxic for Cats

When it comes to the safety of roses in your home, Schmid says, "Roses are OK. The main thing to make sure of is that lilies are not in the home. Any lily from the Lilium Sp can cause acute kidney failure in cats and should never be in or around a house with cats."

Also steer clear of these toxic flowers that contain "rose" in their name:

  • Christmas Rose
  • Desert Rose
  • Moss Rose
  • Primrose
  • Rosebay
  • Rose of Sharon

Another area of concern is the chemicals sprayed onto flowers, such as pesticides, insecticides, and preservatives. While these will keep bugs away and your flowers healthy and blooming, they pose a serious risk to your cat if ingested. Avoid using pesticides on your roses if you grow them in your yard, and buy from organic, pesticide-free growers to keep your cat safe.

Non-Toxic Flowers for Cats

Want to make sure Kitty can sniff and graze safely in your home? Surprise her with indoor, chemical-free grass! It's a great occasional snack and satisfies her desire to chew on greenery. Still, it's best to provide a totally safe environment for your furry friend by only keeping non-toxic plants and flowers in your home and garden.

Whether you like to grow beautiful flowers in your garden or showcase them inside your home, some safe options for cats include:

  • Asters
  • Celosia
  • Orchids
  • Snapdragons
  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnias

In any case, we recommend checking the ASPCA's list of toxic and non-toxic plants and flowers to see which are safe to keep around your cat and any other pets you have. Consult your vet for additional questions or concerns, and always keep flowers and houseplants out of your cat's reach.

For more information on cats and toxic substances, read our guide on signs of poisoning, what to do if you suspect your cat has been poisoned, and how to keep your cat safe.