First Aid for Plant Poisoning

Cat in pot

  • Dieffenbachia
  • Philodendron
  • Caladium
  • Skunk cabbage
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit
Oral and esophageal irritation: ulcers, swelling, and irritation in mouth and throat; excessive salivation.  Swelling in throat may sometimes interfere with breathing.
DO NOT induce vomiting.  Give milk or water to wash out the animal's mouth and throat; an eyedropper is good for this, but make sure you don't force liquid down the trachea.  Usually this type of poisoning is not fatal, but if the animal seems to be having difficulty in breating, take it to the veterinarian.
  • Amaryllis
  • Daffodil
  • Tulip
  • Wisteria
  • Note: especially bulbs of all the above
Gastric irritation: violent vomiting and nausea immediately after eating the plant.  May see central nervous system excitement followed by depression, coma, or death in severe cases.
Induce vomiting. Give activated charcoal to absorb (bind) the rest of the toxins. Give lots of wter with an eyedropped, then give 1-5 Tbsp. of milk to coat the intestines. Take the cat to the veterinarian.
  • English ivy
  • Alfalfa
  • Beech
  • Daphne
  • Iris
Intestinal irritation:  nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea immediately after eating.
Same as above. Induce vomiting, give activated charcoal and lots of water, then milk.
  • Bird of pradise
  • Box
  • Crown of thorns
  • English ivy
  • Euonymus
  • Honeysuckle
Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea immediately after eating.
Same as above. Induce vomiting, give activated charcoal and lots of water, then milk.
  • Castor bean
  • Precatory bean (rosary pea)
  • Black locust
Vomiting, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain after a latent period of up to 18-24 hours after eating.  May see depression, fever, low blood pressure, coma or convulsions, even death.
Induce vomiting. Give lots of fluid by mouth to help overcome dehydration. Get cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible; these plants are extremely toxic, and only one bean or pea may be fatal.
  • Nightshades
  • Jerusalem cherry
  • Potato (green parts and eyes)
Vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, dry mouth, all after a latent period of 18-24 hours after plant was eaten. May proceed to nervous system stimulation followed by depression; i.e., trembling, salivation, and paralysis. May lead to cardiac arrest.
Induce vomiting if possible, but exercise caution: the gastrointestinal tract may already have suffered extensive damage that vomiting would exacerbate.  Get the cat to your veterinarian promptly so that he or she can provide the necessary supportive therapy.
  • Foxglove
  • Lily of the valley
  • Oleander
  • Monkshood
  • Larkspur
Slow, irregular heartbeat, intense vomiting, abdominal pain also seen a few hours after ingestion. Signs may progress to include excitement, followed by coma and death.
Get the cat to the veterinarian at once. The digitalis glycosides have a severe depressent effect on the heart. This is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Cherry pits
  • Peach pits
  • Apricot pits
  • Almond nuts
  • Apple seeds
  • Hydrangea
Labored breating, collapse.  May suffer muscle tics, terminal convulsion, and death.
Take the cat to the veterinarian immediately.  Cyanide poisoning interferes with the ability of the blood to release oxygen into the tissues, so the cat effectively suffocates while its blood is full of oxygen. Your veterinarian will have the necessary chemical antidotes for this poinson
  • Yews; e.g., Japanese yew
  • English yew
  • Western yew
  • American yew
Trembling, pupil dilation, heartbeat irregularities.  Sudden death may occur with no prior signs.  The signs will vary with the amount eaten.  If only a small amount is ingested, you may see nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain along with mild neurologic signs.
Induce vomiting and get to the cat to the veterinarian immediately.  Yew is so poisonous that the most common finding is sudden death. Owners often do not even realize that the yew has been nibbled.
  • Indian tobacco
  • Golden chain
  • Mescal bean
  • Poison hemlock
  • Tobacco
Rapid heartbeat, salivation, shaking, twitching, staggering, then difficult breathing and collapse within a few minutes to hours of eating plant.
Get the cat to the veterinarian immediately. Specific chemical injections are required to counteract the effects of nicotine poisoning.
  • Rhubarb (leaves, upper stem)
Staggering, convulsions, salivation, vomiting, abdominal pain.
Induce vomiting, then take the cat to the veterinarian. The oxalates are absorbed into the bloodstream, interfering with body calcium (leading to convulsions) and may be deposited as crystals in the kidneys, causing extensive damage there.
  • Belladonna
  • Henbane
  • Jimsonweed
  • Jessamine
  • Datura
Thirst, dry mucous membranes, dilated pupils, gastrointestinal upset, fast, weak heart, delierium, convulsions, coma, death.
Get the cat to the veterinarian immediately.  Chemical antidotes and supportive care that only a veterinarian can provide are necessary to save the animal's life.
  • Periwinkle
  • Chinaberry
  • Coriaria
  • Moonseed
  • Waterhemlock
  • Marijuana
  • Morning glory
Alteration in behavior, violent convulsions and tremors.
Induce vomiting and get the cat to the veterinarian.  Specific antidotes and supportive care (oxygen, fluid therapy, tranquilizers) may be necessary.
How to induce vomiting

The goal when inducing vomiting is to remove poison from the stomach before it can pass to the intestines and be absorbed into the bloodstream. Open the cat's mouth without tipping its head way back and slowly pour in one of the following:
  • Give 1 to 2 teaspoons of syrup of ipecac (may be repeated once in twenty minutes if needed).
  • Give 1 to 2 teaspoons of a 1:1 mix of hydrogen perioxide and water (repeat a few times at twenty-minute intervals if needed).
Repeat or alternate these measures every 5 or 10 minutes until the cat vomits.  Save the vomit and bring it and the poison, if available, to the veterinarian to help identify the poison and choose specific treatments.

If activated charcoal (the kind purchased in a pharmacy, not charcoal briquets) is available, mix several teaspons into the liquid.  The charcoil will adsorb (bind to) poison in the intestine, so it is passed out of the body without entering the bloodstream.  Do not use the charcoal if the cat has been given syrup of ipecac, for they will bind together and inactivate each other.  Try coating the intestines to slow absorption.  Feed the cat one to three tablespoons of eggs whites.  One to two teaspoons of mineral oil may help prevent some poisons from passing from the intensive into the cat's system, but this must be given slowly and carefully to prevent aspiration.

While traveling to the veterinarian, keep the cat warm and lower its head to allow liquids to drain out of the mouth.

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Above information from The Cornell Book of Cats

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