Coffee Tree Poisoning Average Cost

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Average Cost

$300

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What is Coffee Tree Poisoning?

Unfortunately, the coffee tree contains saponins, which are toxins known to cause irritation on a cat’s skin or within his oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract if the toxin is eaten. Your cat may be exposed to these toxins either topically, if he rubs against the coffee tree, or orally, if he chews on or eats part of the tree. Some of the symptoms include contact dermatitis (skin rashes), vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, fatigue, general weakness, and increased heart rate.

Although it is rare for coffee tree poisoning to be fatal or lead to any life-threatening complications, it is still imperative you take your cat to a vet for medical treatment as soon as possible. Your cat will probably need treatment to eliminate the toxin from his body and stabilize his condition. 

The coffee tree, which also goes by the names wild coffee, geranium-leaf aralia, and aralia, is native to areas of North and Central America. In the U.S., it is often used in residential landscaping because of its tall height and dense foliage. 

Symptoms of Coffee Tree Poisoning in Cats

Cats may not experience any symptoms if they only consume a small amount of a coffee tree or if topical exposure is brief. However, if they ingest a large amount, your cat may begin to exhibit symptoms immediately following the exposure, including:

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

Causes of Coffee Tree Poisoning in Cats

Cats may not experience any symptoms if they only consume a small amount of a coffee tree or if topical exposure is brief. However, if they ingest a large amount, your cat may begin to exhibit symptoms immediately following the exposure, including:

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate

Diagnosis of Coffee Tree Poisoning in Cats

If you see your cat touching or chewing on part of a coffee tree or if you start to see signs of coffee tree poisoning, bring him into a veterinarian right away. Describe the symptoms you have observed and when they began. If you can bring in part of the tree you saw your cat chewing on, or if you have a sample of his vomit, this will help the vet make a diagnosis. You can also take a picture of the tree if there is no small piece for you to carry to the vet.

There is no test to diagnose coffee tree poisoning in cats, so the diagnosis will be made after learning about the symptoms and analyzing the contents of the vomit if this is available. The vet can also choose to examine the contents of your cat’s stomach to look for clues as to what could be causing the symptoms. 

Treatment of Coffee Tree Poisoning in Cats

Once the vet has concluded your cat is suffering from coffee tree poisoning, he will begin treatment right away. Your cat may need to receive fluids intravenously to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalances caused by excessive vomiting and diarrhea. 

Next, the vet will induce vomiting and may also administer activated charcoal after the vomiting has subsided. Activated charcoal will absorb any of the toxins that were not removed from your cat’s system with the vomiting. A gastric lavage, which is a medical term given to the process of cleaning the cat’s stomach with fluids, may also be performed. 

If your cat has not experienced any gastrointestinal symptoms, he may only be suffering from topical exposure to the coffee tree. In this case, the vet may only need to administer a corticosteroid to alleviate the swelling and inflammation of the affected skin. 

The vet might recommend keeping your cat for 24-48 hours following treatment to ensure his condition does not worsen. This is especially common in cases which the cat is severely dehydrated and needs intravenous fluids. 

Recovery of Coffee Tree Poisoning in Cats

The majority of cats will fully recover from coffee tree poisoning. In fact, it is very rare for a cat to suffer from any complications after ingesting part of a coffee tree. As with other types of poisoning, the quicker you can get your cat to a vet for treatment, the better his chances are at making a full recovery.  

Ask your vet whether you need to change your cat’s diet for the next few days while his body regains strength. Your cat’s stomach may be sensitive from the treatment, so the vet may ask you to only feed your cat soft foods until he has fully recovered.

You will need to keep your cat away from further exposure to the coffee tree. If the tree is in your yard—or in a neighbor’s—it may be best to keep your cat indoors as much as possible to limit exposure.