What is Cape Jasmine Poisoning?
Cape jasmine contains two different iridoid glycosides (gardenoside and geniposide) that convert into alkaloids in the digestive system. These glycosides can produce an anti-inflammatory effect in many animals, but in cats produce a negative gastrointestinal response. This is because cats lack the digestive enzymes that are present in most herbivores which allow the body to break down the alkaloids. The environment in which the plant is grown will impact the toxicity levels it contains. Cape jasmine has two peak periods of growth when toxin production increases.
Cape jasmine is an evergreen shrub that produces beautiful white flowers. Its scientific name is Gardenia jasminoides and it is often referred to simply as “Gardenia”. Cape jasmine is of the Rubiaceae family native to Asia, however it can be grown in many parts of the United States. The leaves are dark and glossy, growing up to 4 inches in length. The flowers and very fragrant, and can measure 3 inches across. They are trumpet-like in shape.
Symptoms of Cape Jasmine Poisoning in Cats
While consuming cape jasmine is not life-threatening to cats, it may produce a very unpleasant gastrointestinal upset. This may present complications in cats who have underlying health issues. Symptoms to watch for include:
- Hives on the skin
Causes of Cape Jasmine Poisoning in Cats
Because this plant is so well-loved for its elegant flowers and their pleasant fragrance, it can be found in many gardens or be potted and kept inside the home. Cats with a curious nature, and especially kittens, may be more likely to attempt eating parts of the cape jasmine plant. The leaves produce a very bitter taste, deterring the consumption of large amounts. Both the leaves and the flowers contain toxins.
Diagnosis of Cape Jasmine Poisoning in Cats
While symptoms are generally mild, it may be best to have your veterinarian assess the condition of the cat. If you witnessed your cat eating the plant, the examination may be shortened. However, if the cause of gastrointestinal distress is unknown, a more detailed evaluation will be needed. Your vet may ask about which type of plants you keep in your home or garden, and if the cat is allowed outdoors.
To differentiate cape jasmine poisoning from other health problems, full blood work may be run including a complete blood count and a biochemical profile. These test will measure levels of all of the various minerals and cells within the blood stream. Abnormalities may indicate other issues in the cat. Urinalysis may also be obtained to assess how the liver and kidneys are functioning by monitoring what is being removed from the body with the urine.
Treatment of Cape Jasmine Poisoning in Cats
Most cats will not require any major treatment, and may be sent home and monitored until symptoms have passed. If vomiting and diarrhea has become severe, hospitalization may be necessary to stabilize the cat.
If the cat has become dehydrated from lengthy periods of gastrointestinal expulsion, intravenous fluids may be administered to increase volumes within the body. The cat should be kept comfortable throughout this process.
Recovery of Cape Jasmine Poisoning in Cats
To reduce the chance of your cat being poisoned by eating cape jasmine, it may be best to remove it from your gardens, or from inside your home. There are many other options of plants with elegant and sweet smelling blossoms that are not toxic to cats. Keeping your cat indoors will protect it from exposure to poisonous plants growing on neighbors’ properties.