What is Apple Poisoning?
Because your cat’s recovery from apple poisoning depends on how quickly he receives medical treatment, you will need to take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible after you spot any of the symptoms.
For people, an apple a day may keep the doctor away, but this fruit can be incredibly dangerous when consumed by cats. The seeds, leaves, and stems of an apple contain cyanide, which will quickly cut off cells’ oxygen supply once consumed. Ingestion of cyanide can lead to dilated pupils, vomiting, heavy panting, respiratory issues, and bright red colored gums. Eventually, apple poisoning can cause your cat to go into shock. If left untreated, the condition can be fatal.
Symptoms of Apple Poisoning in Cats
The symptoms of apple poisoning will typically begin about 10-15 minutes after your cat has been exposed to the toxin. Once you see symptoms, you will need to take your cat to a vet immediately to prevent shock or death. Some of the symptoms you may observe include:
- Dilated pupils
- Heavy panting
- Difficulty breathing
- Brick red colored gums
Causes of Apple Poisoning in Cats
Apple poisoning is caused by exposure to the apple tree or fruit. The leaves, seeds, and stems contain cyanide, which is incredibly dangerous when ingested. Once in your cat’s system, cyanide will begin to inhibit the cells from taking in oxygen. Cyanide is present in the leaves, seeds, and stems at all times, however, it is especially potent when the leaves are wilting.
Diagnosis of Apple Poisoning in Cats
Take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible after you have started to observe symptoms of apple poisoning. Discuss the symptoms with your vet and let him know when they first began and if you have any suspicions as to what caused them. If your cat spends the majority of his time outdoors, mention this to the vet as well. Cat owners should also take a close look at the cat’s vomit to see if there are any clues as to what caused the symptoms. If there are, bring a sample to your vet.
Based on the symptoms, the vet should know this is some sort of poisoning. However, the vet will need to take a sample of the cat’s stomach fluids to confirm it is cyanide. In a process known as trocarization, the vet will remove a small sample of fluid from your cat’s stomach to test for the presence of cyanide. This process can leave the vet exposed to cyanide, so he will have to wear protective gear while extracting the fluid. Once the fluid has been removed, the vet will be able to confirm it is cyanide poisoning. Because many plants cause cyanide poisoning, he will not be able to say with certainty that it is apple poisoning unless you know your cat has been exposed to the leaves, seeds, or stems of an apple.
Treatment of Apple Poisoning in Cats
Treatment will need to begin immediately following the diagnosis to prevent your cat from going into shock or passing away. First, an emergency dose of amyl nitrate may be administered to your cat nasally. Next, the vet may use an IV to administer sodium nitrite. Finally, the vet may also need to administer sodium thiosulfate to your cat either intravenously or orally.
Your cat’s condition could be fragile during the treatment process. For this reason, your cat will most likely be connected to a respirator and closely monitored by trained professionals. He may experience drops in blood pressure and vomiting caused by the sodium thiosulfate, so it’s important for a veterinarian to be nearby at all times.
Over the next several hours, the vet will watch your cat’s symptoms and look for signs of improvement. A second dose of sodium nitrate may be administered to your cat if necessary.
Recovery of Apple Poisoning in Cats
Whether your cat recovers from apple poisoning will depend on the severity of his symptoms and how quickly he receives treatment. As with many other conditions, the sooner he receives treatment, the more likely it is he will recover. The vet may need to keep your cat to stabilize his condition if he is severely dehydrated. If not, your cat will be released to you. Keep him as comfortable as possible as he recovers and regains his strength.
Talk to your vet about what plants or fruits contain cyanide. If you have any of these plants or trees in your yard, you may want to keep your cat indoors to prevent an episode of apple poisoning.