Yes, poinsettia plants are mildly toxic to cats.
Poinsettias are flowering plants that are popular during the Christmas season. They belong to the Euphorbia genus, and are native to Central America and Mexico. Poinsettias go by many names. This includes the crown of the Andes, Easter flower, flame leaf flower, flower of Christmas eve, flower of the holy night, and lobster flower.
According to both the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Pet Poison Helpline, poinsettias are mildly toxic to cats because of its milky white sap found throughout the plant. The sap contains diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents that can cause irritation.
What to do if your cat accidentally comes into contact with, chews, or eats poinsettia plants: Depending on the point of contact, the plant’s sticky sap can irritate your cat’s skin, mouth, and stomach. However, its effects are not life-threatening as some sources may indicate.
Skin contact can cause swelling, redness, and itchiness. Meanwhile, vomiting, drooling, licking of lips, and diarrhea (in rare cases) may occur after sap ingestion. Aside from these symptoms, your cat may also experience eye irritation.
Observe your cat closely by keeping her in a contained space. Contact your veterinarian immediately if her conditions worsen. More importantly, take the plant away from her, and discard any remaining plant matter found on your cat’s body.
In summary: Poinsettia plants can cause mild irritation in cats, so it’s best for feline parents to refrain from obtaining them during the holiday season. Be a responsible cat owner by checking these lists created by ASPCA, Pet Poison Helpline, and PetMD before exposing her to a new houseplant or growing one in your backyard.