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When the Crocus Blooms: Is My Cat in Danger?

In addition to snowdrops and spring cups, crocuses are among the early bloomers that herald the approaching spring. That is why most people look forward to seeing the purple or yellow polka dots on park meadows and in the garden. In the following, we explain why you as a cat owner should be careful.

This is Why the Crocus is Poisonous to Cats

Did you know that there are well over 200 different species of crocus? For us, however, two of them are especially important: The Crocus albiflorus is the most common species in our latitudes as the “spring crocus”. There are numerous subspecies and many melodious regional names. Crocuses are and will remain poisonous. Similar to tulips and Easter lilies, they are dangerous plants for cats. If the cat has only nibbled a little on the crocus but quickly lost its taste, you don’t need to worry: only larger quantities are toxic.

Young cats and pregnant cats are particularly at risk.

The latter, as crocuses can cause labor. Some subspecies such as Crocus tommasianus are only slightly poisonous.

We would also like to warn against Crocus sativus at this point. Only a few of us should have this plant, which mainly blooms in autumn, in our garden. Many, however, use it as a precious spice: this plant is “real saffron”. This is to be dosed sparingly anyway. But don’t leave saffron unattended in your kitchen when your cat has access to it.

Attention, Risk of Confusion with Autumn Crocus

Crocuses are poisonous plants, but not a great danger for attentive pet owners, because cats usually do not eat toxic quantities. But another plant looks very similar to the crocus and is far more poisonous: the Colchicum autumnale, the autumn crocus. It blooms from late summer to autumn. In spring only the leaves are visible and cases of poisoning often occur because people mistake them for wild garlic. In autumn, only the flowers that contain a particularly large amount of the poisonous alkaloid are visible. The autumn crocus is also poisonous for many animals. If you suspect that your velvet paw has eaten autumn crocus, or if your animal shows severe symptoms of poisoning, you should contact a veterinarian immediately.

The effect of the poison, whether it be vomiting, diarrhea, or even respiratory paralysis, only occurs two to six hours after ingestion.

How to Protect Your Cat From Poisonous Crocus

Most cats are not interested in crocuses – outdoor adult cats have a well-developed instinct for harmless plants. Keep an eye out for young velvet paws as they explore to see if they are nibbling on crocuses. Alternatively, offer cat grass or fragrant catnip. If you have pure indoor cats, you should only place crocuses sparingly on the balcony or in the apartment. This way you can quickly move the plant out of reach if you discover signs of nibbling. The same applies here: Attractive plants such as cat grass are a good measure to keep the velvet paw away from crocuses. Autumn croissants in the garden are a greater danger, which is especially important for young animals or inexperienced outdoor animals.

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