What is Bergamot Orange Poisoning?
The bergamot orange is one of the most common varieties of oranges grown in the United States. It is naturally found in Mediterranean climates, meaning that its cultivation is mainly localized to the Southwestern states. Though the bergamot is very useful for preparing many different kinds of foods and perfumes, it does have some toxins within it that can be very dangerous to cats if ingested. Whilst the whole plant contains potentially harmful substances, the seeds can prove to be especially dangerous. Fortunately, however, most bergamot orange cultivation is kept to agricultural land, with most gardeners preferring to privately grow sweeter varieties of orange at home.
Symptoms of Bergamot Orange Poisoning in Cats
It is difficult for most owners to narrow down the exact cause of poisoning from symptoms alone, but handily, poisoning via citrus fruits leaves behind a trademark sensitivity to ultraviolet light that will assist in diagnosing the problem. When noting down their pet's symptoms, it is important for owners to keep in mind the order and rate at which they progressed, as this information can potentially help a vet to reach a diagnosis much faster.
Causes of Bergamot Orange Poisoning in Cats
The main harmful chemical in bergamot oranges is 'psoralen'. Once inside the body, this toxin absorbs energy from direct sunlight that shines on the skin and then uses it to fuel a chemical reaction. It is this reaction that causes the rash and blisters that are the tell-tale sign of citrus fruit poisoning. The second group of chemicals that provoke the symptoms mentioned above are essential oils (which are found in the orange plant in abundance). These chemicals can cause various health problems because several essential oils are in fact neurotoxins that prevent the nervous system from properly regulating bodily functions. It is these essential oils that are responsible for increased lethargy as well as a portion of the vomiting and diarrhea that will be exhibited.
Diagnosis of Bergamot Orange Poisoning in Cats
The first thing a vet will do once a poisoned cat is brought to their clinic is consult with the owner about the symptoms that they have noticed and the rate and sequence within which they have progressed. For this reason, owners should be sure to note down times and changes in behavior, as this information can make diagnosis much easier. The vet will also perform a physical examination of the cat to identify any particularly inflamed areas of the digestive tract. In addition to this, tests can be done on the cat's blood in order to identify the specific toxins at work. In citrus poisoning, urinalysis can also be used as another diagnostic tool.
Treatment of Bergamot Orange Poisoning in Cats
The main way in which bergamot orange poisoning is dealt with is to commence fluid replacement therapy. This will help quickly restore the liquids that have been lost to vomiting and diarrhea, preventing the onset or further development of dehydration. It will also have the effect of helping to flush the psoralen and essential oils from the body. This causes an immediate reduction in photosensitivity and should quickly raise the cat's levels of energy. Although the vomiting and diarrhea should rapidly subside, the cat's digestive system will be somewhat sensitive for a time after the poisoning, meaning that it could still expel food after eating.
Recovery of Bergamot Orange Poisoning in Cats
Due to the increased sensitivity of the stomach following the poisoning, it may be necessary to feed the cat a liquid diet, as this will prove far easier to digest than solid food and therefore runs less of a risk of being regurgitated. The cat may also require additional fluids to be administered by the owner if dehydration has set in. In most cases, it will also be necessary to limit the cat's activity levels by confining it to the house for a few days. This will give its body ample time to recover from the poisoning. Most cases of bergamot poisoning are relatively mild, meaning that follow-up visits are not usually required. It also means that the average time needed for a cat to make a full recovery is not typically longer than a week.