What is Ceriman Poisoning?
The Ceriman plant belongs to the Araceae family and is known throughout the world by its scientific name: Monstera deliciosa. The ceriman is a tropical plant commonly found in Latin American countries, however, it is one of the most common indoors plants of homes and offices in North America. The Ceriman has large, glossy leaves, cut with deep splits that perforate with distinctive, oblong holes near the stem line. The ceriman plant flowers around age three with the bloom being a 12-inch-long split-leaf Philodendron that is white in coloration and sometimes bears an unusual fruit. This edible bloom looks like a fleshy spike with a shield-like boat behind it. When the plant matures, the fruit it bears looks like a green corn cob with hexagon scales. Some varieties of ceriman plants lose their toxicity component upon ripening and can be eaten, however, environmental conditions can cause the ceriman plant's fruit to continuously contain the needle-like raphides. The ceriman has several common names, including the Mexican breadfruit, the swiss cheese plant, the hurricane plant and the cutleaf philodendron.
Ceriman poisoning in cats is a condition of toxicity caused by the ingestion of the root, stem or leaves of the ceriman plant. The ceriman plant is laced with needle-like calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. When swallowed, these raphides cause an intense burning sensation of the mouth and can even cause significant throat swelling that can cause the feline to suffocate. If the oxalate crystals are digested, the needle-shaped crystals will precipitate in the feline’s kidneys, transforming into a solid, which leads to eventual death. A sure sign of ceriman poisoning in cats is visible signs of oral irritation, paired with excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
Symptoms of Ceriman Poisoning in Cats
The ceriman plant causes a severe burning sensation in the cat’s mouth, which can be identified by irritation to the cat’s lips, tongue and cheeks. The feline’s mouth may be red in coloration and swollen, causing the feline to drool excessively. The needle-like crystals inside the ceriman plant can cause severe throat swelling, which prevents air from entering the lungs and results in suffocation. The feline may vomit as the body responds to the toxic element inside the upper digestive tract, but upon digestion, the raphides can reach the kidneys.
Causes of Ceriman Poisoning in Cats
The toxic component of the ceriman plant is the needle-like calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. A feline can be poisoned by the Ceriman plant if the steam, leaves, roots or unripe fruit are digested.
Diagnosis of Ceriman Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing ceriman plant poisoning in cats is difficult as there is no specific test available for identifying this type of toxicity. Your veterinarian’s diagnosis will be based on ruling out other possible causes of your feline’s current condition that could cause similar symptoms that mimic a ceriman plant poisoning. The diagnostic process will begin with a physical examination, review of the feline’s medical history and a consultation with the pet owner. It will be important for you to inform the veterinarian about your feline’s recent actions and possible exposure to a ceriman plant, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes. The clinical signs that ceriman plant poisoning causes in cats, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are the same symptoms as several other feline health conditions. The veterinarian may conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from ceriman plant toxicity and not a more severe underlying condition. Diagnostic tests the veterinarian will likely request to be performed on the feline include:
- CBC (complete blood cell count)
- Biochemical profile (blood work)
- Blood smear test
- Urinalysis (examination of urine)
- Fecal floatation test
- Fecal examination
Treatment of Ceriman Poisoning in Cats
Although there is no known antidote to counteract ceriman plant poisoning in cats, immediate veterinary care can save the feline’s life. The key to a positive prognosis is receiving treatment prior to kidney organ shutdown. The veterinarian may administer medication to induce vomiting or give the feline an activated charcoal solution to bind with the toxic plant chemical, to later be passed in fecal form from the body.
If the veterinarian feels the ceriman toxin has entered the cat’s bloodstream and needs to be flushed through the urine, intravenous fluids will be started upon clinical arrival. If your cat has continuously vomited or has experienced severe diarrhea, fluids may also be administered to replace the feline’s level of hydration. As the ceriman plant can cause throat irritation, Kapectolin may also be administered to coat the inside of the throat and stomach.
Recovery of Ceriman Poisoning in Cats
The prognosis for ceriman poisoning in cats is guarded and greatly depends on the extent of the toxicity. In general, cats that receive emergency veterinary care have a greater chance of survival than those in which the raphides reach the kidneys.