Poisonous Plants for Cats

Plants Toxic for Cats

Cats will chew on plants. And, because they love to climb and explore, it is difficult to keep plants out of their reach. Therefore, if you are going to have plants in your house, or if you let your cat out in your yard, you need to be able to accurately identify the plants to which your cat will be exposed. When in doubt, however, it is best to remove the plant from your home.

 If a plant is poisonous, assume all parts of the plant are poisonous — though some parts of the plant may have higher concentrations of the toxic principle than others. Many toxic plants are irritants: they cause inflammation of the skin, mouth, stomach, etc. The toxic principle in other plants may only affect a particular organ like the kidney or heart.

 The following is a listing of plants that are toxic to cats, as well as the most commonly encountered toxic plants:

  • Amaryllis (Amaryllis sp.)
  • Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.)
  • Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
  • Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.)
  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sp.)
  • Lilies (Lilium sp.)
  • Marijuana (Cannabis sativa)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
  • Spanish thyme (Coleus ampoinicus)
  • Tulip and Narcissus bulbs (Tulipa and Narcissus sp.)
  • Yew (Taxus sp.)

You can also visit the Pet Poison Helpline for their Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets, and the ASPCA for their extensive list of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants.

What to Watch For

 Since many plants are irritants, especially for the gastrointestinal tract, most symptoms seen will be the result of irritation or inflammation, such as redness, swelling, or itchiness of the skin or mouth.

 If the toxic principle directly affects a particular organ, the symptoms seen will be related to that organ. For example:

  • Difficulty breathing (if the airways are affected)
  • Drooling or difficulty swallowing (if the mouth, throat, or esophagus is affected)
  • Vomiting (if the stomach or intestines are affected)
  • Diarrhea (if the intestines or colon are affected)
  • Excessive drinking and urinating (if the kidneys are affected)
  • Fast, slow, or irregular heart beat (if the heart is affected)

Immediate Care

 If you see your cat eating a plant and you are uncertain if it is poisonous, or if you suspect your cat ate such a plant within the past 1 to 2 hours, you can do the following before you take him to your veterinarian:

  1. Remove any plant material from the hair and skin.
  2. If it necessary, you can wash the cat with warm water and a little non-irritating dish soap.
  3. The identity of the plant is very important for determining treatment. If you don’t know what kind of plant it is and you can bring it with you, do so. Veterinarians don’t receive much training in plant identification, but every effort needs to be made to identify the plant. If your cat has vomited at all, try to collect some it for the doctor.
  4. Call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680.

Veterinary Care

Diagnosis

The best diagnosis is made by identifying the plant. Your veterinarian will give your cat a physical exam, and order such tests as necessary to determine the overall health of your cat. These tests are especially necessary if the plant is known to target specific organs.

Treatment

Once your cat has vomited, your veterinarian may give him activated charcoal to absorb any of the toxic principle that may be in the gut. Your vet may administer medication like sucralfate, which protects the damaged areas of the stomach.

Supportive care, such as intravenous fluids or anti-inflammatory medication will be used as needed, especially if the gastrointestinal tract is severely affected.

Living and Management

Some plants are fatal for cats when ingested, regardless of how quickly and excellent the care may be. This is usually true of lilies. Other plants may cause enough damage that prolonged aftercare in the form of medication or special diet is needed. Be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions.

Prevention

 Take whatever steps you can to protect your cat from exposure to poisonous plants. This includes removing such plants from your home and yard.

Article taken from:  http://www.petmd.com/cat/emergency/poisoning-toxicity

Your Cat’s Annual Exam

by Dr. Dawn Ruben, DVM
John Hopkins Medicine

It’s that time of year again. Time to take your cat to the veterinarian for his annual examination. But maybe you’re thinking that you might skip it this year. After all, he isn’t sick. Maybe you will just put it off until next year – what could it hurt?

Actually, delaying an annual physical exam can hurt. Annual physical exams are an important part of providing optimal health care and the best longevity for your beloved companion. Cats age quickly and they are unable to tell us if they are feeling a little off. Remember, it may be one year in your life but that can be about 5-10 comparative years in your cat’s life. A lot can change in that much time.

Sometimes, cats can be ill for weeks and you are unaware of it. This may not be from a lack of monitoring or caring; your cat just hides his illness until it is so far advanced he has no choice but to show signs of disease.

Your veterinarian has special training and experience in detecting subtle illness in pets. Listening to the heart can detect murmurs. Increased lung sounds may indicate early illness. Abdominal palpation may reveal pain in certain areas, abnormal size and shape of various organs or even tumors. Checking out the eyes can detect early signs of cataract or other ocular problems. Ears may be in need of cleaning or medication. Dental disease may be detected as well as signs of allergies or skin problems. It’s easier for someone who doesn’t see your pet every day to detects lumps and bumps that you may not have noticed. Comparing annual weights, too, can determine if your cat is heading down the path to obesity or is slowly losing weight.

As a cat reaches middle to old age, annual physical exams become even more important. Certain problems that you may simply attribute to “old age,” and just something you will have to live with, may be signs of underling disease and may be very treatable. Annual physical exams also give you an opportunity to ask your veterinarian any questions you may have about your cat’s health. Your veterinarian may recommend certain additional tests to determine overall health based on physical exam findings or may have suggestions for improving the quality of your cat’s life. Remember, the primary goal for your veterinarian is to keep your cat healthy and provide the best care available. Your veterinarian cares a great deal about your cat – almost as much as you.

A physical examination is not just a chance for your vet to see how cute your cat is; a thorough exam can pick up on a variety of illnesses and prevent potential catastrophic disease. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early, your cat will live a much healthier and longer life.

Polydipsia and Polyuria

Excessive Drinking & Urinating in Cats

The term polydipsia refers to excessive thirst manifested by excessive water intake, which in turn usually leads to polyuria, which is the formation and excretion of a large volume of urine. Polydipsia and polyuria are early signs of several diseases, including:

  • Kidney failure
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperactivity of the thyroid gland
  • Uterine infection (called pyometra)
  • Liver disease
  • High blood calcium
  • Uncommon abnormalities of the pituitary gland
  • Inability of the tubules of the kidney to reabsorb water properly (i.e. “nephrogenic” diabetes insipidus


Cats normally take in about 20 to 40 milliliters per pound of body weight per day, or about 2 ½ cups per day for a 10 pound cat. This includes any water that is taken in when eating canned food. Anything more than that, under normal environmental conditions, is considered polydipsia.

You should watch your cat for increased thirst and urinations. You may observe an increase in the amount of wet litter in a cat’s litter box. Some cats may begin drinking from a dripping faucet in the sink or from an open toilet bowl. However, if you want to determine how much your cat is drinking, allow him only one source of water and subtract the amount left in the bowl after 24 hours from the amount you put in originally. If you determine that your pet is drinking excessively, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Diagnosis
One of the first steps in the evaluation of a cat with polyuria and polydipsia is to determine the urine concentration by a test called “urine specific gravity.” The specific gravity of pure water is 1.000. Polyuria is suspected if the urine specific gravity is less than 1.035. This can be verified by measuring daily urine output. Polyuria is present if the cat’s daily urine output is greater than 20 milliliters per pound of body weight per day.
Several diagnostic tests may be needed to determine the cause of polyuria and polydipsia because many different diseases may cause these symptoms. Tests may include:

Complete medical history and physical examination including palpating the abdomen to check kidney and liver size, checking for vaginal discharge in females and palpating the thyroid gland.

The history that includes the determination of drug administration (e.g. diuretics, anticonvulsants, cortisone-type drugs, salt; or recent fluid therapy); reproductive status (i.e. sexually intact or spayed) in females; occurrence of urinary accidents in the house; abnormal odor or appearance of the urine; and the presence of weight loss, appetite change, or any other abnormalities.

Treatment
There are several potential causes of polyuria and polydipsia, and the underlying cause of these symptoms must be determined before appropriate treatment can be initiated.

The occurrence of polyuria and polydipsia usually does not constitute an emergency, but several potentially serious diseases (such as diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, liver failure or high blood calcium caused by a malignancy) may be the underlying cause of the symptoms. Hypercalcemia can be a medical emergency and if identified should be treated appropriately with intravenous saline solution and diuretics.

Home Care
You should also monitor your cat for any clinical abnormalities and discuss them with your veterinarian. Monitor the amount of water consumed by your cat and try to identify any changes in urinary behavior and urine output. Also monitor your cat’s appetite and activity level. Discuss any changes you observe or concerns you may have with your veterinarian.

Polyuria and polydipsia cannot be prevented, and successful treatment depends on identification of the underlying disease causing these symptoms.