What is Bead Tree Poisoning?
Thankfully, bead tree poisoning is characterized by some obvious visual clues. As the poison begins to act, the animal will find its fine motor skills beginning to suffer. This manifests itself in the form of physical weakness, lethargy, and an uncoordinated gait. Seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac arrest may follow.
The bead tree is a species of deciduous tree that is native to Southeast Asia. However, in recent decades it has seen introduction to western gardens and public spaces as an ornamental plant, especially in the southeastern United States. However, despite its popularity with gardeners, the bead tree contains toxins that in sufficient quantities can prove deadly to humans and cats alike.
Symptoms of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats
Noticing multiple items on this list should spur most owners to contact a vet for further advice and making notes on the progression of symptoms will potentially aid greatly in diagnosing the problem.
- Physical Weakness
- Excessive salivation
- Bloody stool
- Loss of consciousness
- Cardiac arrest
Causes of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats
The toxins found in the bead tree (meliatoxins) are essentially neurotoxins, very similar in their properties to man-made insecticide. For this reason, their symptoms are very similar to those of nerve agents, causing loss of motor function and control over crucial bodily processes. The meliatoxin accomplishes this by inhibiting neurons in the nervous system from properly transmitting impulses through the body. The results of this are involuntary muscle movements (seizures) and an inability to regulate basic bodily functions (resulting in vomiting, diarrhea and heart attacks).
Diagnosis of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats
The distinct symptoms of neurotoxin poisoning should normally allow a vet to diagnose such a case fairly quickly. However, in many cases of such poisoning it may be necessary to perform a full blood panel test in order to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem. The vet will also want to know the timeframe within which the symptoms started to occur as well as the details of their progression and possible abatement.
Treatment of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats
Once properly identified, the vet can begin to mitigate the effects of the poison. Unfortunately, there is no direct counter to meliatoxin poisoning, though there are several methods that can prevent it from causing further damage. The first of these is to pump the cat's stomach; although the vomiting and diarrhea will have emptied much of the digestive tract, there may still be trace amounts of bead tree material remaining for the body to absorb. The vet will also start fluid replacement therapy via an IV drip. This will both stave off the effects of dehydration and dilute any toxins lingering in the body.
Recovery of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats
In severe cases, the vet may wish to keep the cat in the clinic for overnight monitoring so that any recurring symptoms can be quickly treated. Most pets, however will be able to return home the same day. Owners will need to make sure that the activity of their pet is limited, in order to give them plenty of time to recuperate. Animals that were badly affected will also be required to attend follow-up visits and possibly undergo physiotherapy sessions in order to regain their full range of motor function. Recovery times vary drastically depending on the severity of the poisoning, with some cats making a full recovery within just a few weeks, whilst others suffer a degree of impairment for the rest of their lives.