What is Caraway Poisoning?
Caraway contains carvone and limonene. Carvone is a substance that is commonly used in pesticides and essential oils. Limonene is a type of citrus oil that causes liver damage or failure. Cats are more sensitive to limonene poisoning compared to other animals. If you think your cat has ingested caraway, take it to the vet immediately.
Caraway, also known as meridian fennel, is an herb that humans have used for centuries. Caraway leaves and seeds are commonly used in essential oils, cooking, and herbal medicine. Caraway belongs to the Umbelliferae family. Unfortunately, caraway seed is sometimes recommended to help solve digestion problems in cats. However, caraway is toxic to cats and can cause severe problems, so should never be administered intentionally.
Symptoms of Caraway Poisoning in Cats
Any type of poisoning should be treated as a veterinary emergency. Symptoms may be nonspecific or may be linked to liver damage or failure. Seek immediate veterinary attention as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drinking
Causes of Caraway Poisoning in Cats
The main cause of caraway poisoning in cats is ingesting the plant. Little is known about the quantity and specific parts of the plant your cat needs to ingest in order to be poisoned. It is also unclear how severe poisoning can be if small quantities are ingested. Always err on the side of caution and take your cat to the vet if they ingest any part of the caraway plant.
Diagnosis of Caraway Poisoning in Cats
Call your vet before you arrive to let them know they will be treating an emergency case. If you have purchased or are growing the caraway as a house herb, take it with you when you go to the vet. Knowing approximately how much of the plant your cat ingested is also helpful for the appointment, but not necessary. You should always inform your vet of how long your cat has been experiencing symptoms.
Presentation of symptoms may be sufficient for the vet to make a definitive diagnosis. Additional diagnostic testing may include blood and urine analysis. If liver damage is suspected, additional tests may be recommended, including x-rays, ultrasound, liver biopsy, and exploratory abdominal surgery.
Treatment of Caraway Poisoning in Cats
Treatment may vary depending on the severity of poisoning. Your vet will be able to advise you on a treatment plan based on your cat’s individual needs. Inducing vomiting may not be ideal, especially if your cat is already suffering from vomiting. Intravenous fluid and nutritional therapy may be required to restore fluid balances. Anti-vomiting medication may be administered to slow vomiting, if present. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, activated charcoal or similar medications may be recommended to absorb toxins before they enter the bloodstream.
If acute liver damage or failure has occurred, additional medications may be prescribed to promote healing. These medications include, but are not limited to:
Dietary changes are also commonly recommended in cases of acute liver failure.
Recovery of Caraway Poisoning in Cats
Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the severity of poisoning and the treatment method. However, the prognosis is generally good as long as the poisoning is caught and treated early and no liver damage has occurred. You should always follow your vet’s instructions regarding post-treatment care. Most cases of poisoning are resolved within two hours. Cats with acute liver failure can recover within a few days as long as the condition is caught and treated early.
If your cat has been placed on an antibiotic regimen, be sure to administer the full dosage for the entire duration of the treatment period. Failure to do so can cause further liver problems. If your cat has been placed on a special diet, make sure not to deviate from this diet until instructed to do so by your vet.
If you purchased or grew the caraway in your home, you should remove the plant immediately. If your cat came into contact with the herb through outdoor activity, you may want to limit your cat’s outdoor activity to prevent future poisoning. It is always a good idea to research whether or not a plant you hope to purchase or cultivate is toxic to cats. Since caraway is often used in essential oils and recipes, you should always keep essential oils, as well as foods and beverages containing caraway, out of your cat’s reach.
Follow-up appointments are generally not required for mild cases of caraway poisoning. Your vet will schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor healing following liver damage or failure.