What is Bobbins Poisoning?
Even though Arum maculatum poisoning is not generally life-threatening, attempting management of bobbins poisoning with medications made explicitly for human use is not recommended. Human medications can affect cats unpredictably, and administering them may only worsen the condition. It is important that you take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect it is suffering from bobbins poisoning. If you have purchased the Arum maculatum as a house plant, take it with you when you go to the vet.
The Arum maculatum plant is known by many names, including Lord-and-Ladies, Adam-and-Eve, bobbins, cuckoo-pint, and wake robin. No matter the nomenclature, these names refer to the Arum maculatum, which is toxic to cats, dogs, horses, and humans. Recognize the Arum maculatum by its pointy leaves and orange berries. This plant is commonly found in woodlands and grows natively all over Europe and in parts of Africa. The bobbins plant contains calcium oxalates, which simulate a feeling of tiny needle pricks all throughout the mouth when the plant is ingested.
Symptoms of Bobbins Poisoning in Cats
Symptoms can be immediate or can occur as long as two hours following ingestion, and may last as long as two weeks if left untreated. If your cat has ingested larger amounts of the bobbins plant, symptoms will be more severe. Seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Irritation of the mouth, tongue, and/or lips
- Pawing at the mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry heaving
- Swelling of the mouth
Causes of Bobbins Poisoning in Cats
The primary cause of bobbins poisoning in cats is ingestion of the Arum maculatum plant. Although the berries have a bitter taste which makes ingestion of large quantities less likely, poisoning can occur from ingesting just a few of the berries or chewing on the leaves or stem. The leaves of the plant typically contain lesser amounts of poisonous toxins. However, the entire plant is considered poisonous.
Diagnosis of Bobbins Poisoning in Cats
If you’re able to, take some of the plant your cat has consumed with you to the veterinarian. Having an estimate of how much of the plant your cat ingested is also useful, but not necessary for the diagnosis. Let your vet know how long your cat has been experiencing symptoms.
Presentation of symptoms is generally sufficient to make a definitive diagnosis. Additional diagnostic testing, including blood and urine tests and complete blood count, may also be utilized if the poisoning is suspected to have caused damage to any organs.
Treatment of Bobbins Poisoning in Cats
Treatment may vary depending on the amount of bobbins plant materials ingested and the severity of symptoms. Your vet will first attempt to rinse out your cat’s mouth to remove the calcium oxalate crystals. A neurologic examination will then be carried out in order to ensure the poisoning hasn’t caused damage to the neurological system. If swelling is severe, antihistamines may be prescribed to manage swelling.
For more severe cases of poisoning in which large quantities of the plant is ingested, additional treatment may be required based on symptoms. In cats that exhibit severe swelling, dehydration, and vomiting, intravenous fluid therapy may be required to restore fluid levels. Hospitalization and surgery may be required if kidney or liver damage has occurred. Additional medications may be prescribed according to your cat’s specific needs.
Recovery of Bobbins Poisoning in Cats
Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the severity of symptoms. For mild cases of bobbins poisoning that are diagnosed and treated early, the prognosis is typically very good.
If your cat came in contact with the plant through outdoor activity, you may want to limit your cat’s outdoor activity or remove Arum maculatum houseplants from your home to prevent future poisoning. It is always a good idea to research flowers and plants that are toxic to cats before purchasing anything that may be dangerous or toxic to your cat. Many popular household plants contain calcium oxalates, so be sure to research whether the plant you’re looking to purchase contains these crystals.
If your cat has had surgery, ensure it has a warm, safe place to rest on the return home. Never allow it to irritate the surgery site. Check the surgery site daily to ensure no swelling or drainage has occurred.
Your vet is unlikely to schedule any follow-up appointments for mild cases bobbins poisoning, as the condition generally resolves with treatment within 24 hours. More severe cases will warrant follow-up appointments as needed to monitor the condition.