What is Australian Pine Poisoning?
The precise toxic substances in this tree aren’t known. Vets and cat owners have reported that when cats have ingested the needles they have developed gastrointestinal symptoms, along with lethargy and depression. The popularity of this tree as a Christmas tree puts cats at higher risk during the Christmas and New Year holidays. If your cat shows curiosity, seeming to want to nibble the needles from the branches, find a way of creating a barrier between your cat and the tree, so it can’t harm itself.
Australian Pine, which is also called house pine, Norfolk Island pine, and Norfolk pine, is poisonous to cats. The Australian pine is popular for use as a Christmas tree and for outdoor landscaping.
Symptoms of Australian Pine Poisoning in Cats
After a cat has ingested the needles of the Australian Pine, it may show these symptoms:
- Stomach upset
Causes of Australian Pine Poisoning in Cats
The Australian pine is a highly attractive plant to cats. Unless you treat the lower branches of the tree with an agent that repels your cat, such as a bitter spray or a citrus spray, the cat will be drawn to the tree and may eat its foliage. The needles are indigestible, so they will remain in your cat’s stomach until it is able to vomit them up. Because tree farms and retailers spray poisonous chemicals on these trees to make them last longer, your cat can also fall ill because of the chemicals and fertilizers used. These chemicals can also leach into the water poured into the tree stand, posing even more of a risk to your cat’s health.
Factors that can influence the likelihood of poisoning in cats include:
- Lack of mental stimulation for the cat
- Not protecting the cat or tree with barriers
- Not learning what plants, trees, and flowers are toxic to cats
Diagnosis of Australian Pine Poisoning in Cats
When your cat becomes ill with lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting, it’s not easy to figure out the cause. If you saw it eating Australian pine needles, explain to your vet what you found.
At the vet’s office, your cat will undergo a full physical, which includes blood work. If you have been able to collect samples of your cat’s stool or vomit, bring them in, along with clippings from the tree. The vet will have these analyzed to determine if your cat’s illness is truly a case of Australian pine poisoning. If it is, your vet will have a better idea of how to treat it.
Treatment of Australian Pine Poisoning in Cats
While your cat may not be in danger of dying, it still needs to be treated for its symptoms. Your vet may give Kapectolin to your cat. The vet may also give sucralfate, which helps the cat by creating a paste in its stomach. This paste creates a barrier between the lining of your cat’s stomach and the remaining bits of the pine that it ate. If the cat ate a large amount of tree material, it may be necessary to do a gastric lavage, which completely empties the stomach contents.
If your cat drank water from the tree stand, you should take a sample of that water so the vet can isolate what is making your pet ill and give the most appropriate treatment.
Recovery of Australian Pine Poisoning in Cats
If your Australian pine is a Christmas tree located indoors, you’ll need to be highly watchful of your cat (and any other household pets) to ensure they don’t nibble any part of the tree or drink any of the water.
Any poisoning by this tree will make your cat uncomfortably ill. To help it to feel better, take the cat to the vet so appropriate medications can be given. Within a few hours or days, your cat will return to full health, depending on how much of the tree or water it ate or drank.
If you obtained immediate veterinary treatment, expect your cat to feel under the weather for up to a few days. Once the offending material has been removed from its stomach, it will begin to feel more like its normal self, recovering completely.
At home, set up barriers so the cat can’t get to the tree, whether it’s a part of your outdoor landscaping or whether it’s a Christmas tree inside. Provide distractions for your cat, such as its scratching post, a fish pole toy, treats and catnip. Because cats love to nibble on greenery, provide safe, cat-edible grass indoors and outdoors.