What is Common Privet Poisoning?
If your cat eats some of this hedge, it will become either mildly or moderately ill, depending on how much it ingested. It’s only when animals, including cats, eat a large amount that death becomes a possibility. Once treated, your cat should return to good health.
The common privet, also known as privet, wax-leaf and Amur privet, is an ornamental shrub that contains terpenoid glycosides, which are toxic for cats. The glycosides in the common privet can cause your cat’s heart to beat abnormally fast. The plant’s scientific name is Ligustrum vulgare and it comes from the Oleaceae family.
Symptoms of Common Privet Poisoning in Cats
Once your cat has eaten some of this shrub, it will begin to show several symptoms:
- Loss of physical coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Gastroenteritis (upset stomach)
- Abnormally fast heart rate
Causes of Common Privet Poisoning in Cats
Cats who are bored and are more likely than others to get in trouble by nibbling on a toxic plant, such as the common privet. Ingestion of this plant material exposes a cat to toxic glycosides. Consuming a large volume of this shrub, combined with a cat’s small size, can make common privet poisoning potentially fatal for cats.
Diagnosis of Common Privet Poisoning in Cats
The first sign you’ll see is that your cat is physically ill with diarrhea, fast breathing and vomiting. You may have seen your cat nibbling at the shrub, so get your pet to the vet right away. Since you don’t know how much your cat ate, it’s vital to get veterinary treatment as quickly as possible.
Once on the exam table, your cat will undergo a full physical. Its symptoms won’t point directly to common privet poisoning because they are just too vague. Instead, your vet will need to rely on any plant material you may bring in. If your cat still has berries or leaves in its mouth, this will help the vet to narrow down your cat’s cause of illness.
If your cat age a large amount of this shrub, it may be showing cardiac and respiratory symptoms (high heart and breathing rates). Once these symptoms become evident, it’s vital that your cat receive immediate treatment. As long as it didn’t eat a large amount of plant material, its poisoning and symptoms should be treatable.
Treatment of Common Privet Poisoning in Cats
Treatment will likely begin with rinsing your cat’s mouth out with water. Your veterinarian may induce vomiting and, if your cat ate a large amount of the shrub, may choose to wash out your cat’s stomach under anesthesia. Your cat may also be treated with activated charcoal, which reduces the amount of toxins in its stomach. Your cat may receive an IV to push fluids into its body, especially if it is dehydrated from repeated episodes of diarrhea and vomiting. Medication can also be administered to your cat to force the plant materials already in its stomach to move through the intestines and colon faster. This reduces the amount and time for potential absorption into its body.
If your cat has begun to show respiratory and cardiac symptoms, it will be given heart medication and supplemental oxygen to stabilize its condition. The vet will also treat its lack of physical coordination. As long as you bring the cat into the vet’s office as soon as you realize it has eaten something poisonous, these treatments can bring it back to good health.
Recovery of Common Privet Poisoning in Cats
Poisoning by common privet shrub is rarely fatal, unless the cat ate a large amount of this plant and did not receive prompt treatment. Because of the small size of your cat, it is at higher risk of developing life-threatening symptoms. Prompt treatment may mean the difference between recovery and death.
Once your cat is back at home, you need to reduce the chance that it will again eat from this shrub and suffer another bout of poisoning. If the hedge is in your yard, remove it and plant something that is safer for your cat to nibble on. Limit its ability to roam outdoors and provide cat-safe grasses and plants that it can consume with no negative health effects. By growing cat-safe plants and grasses, both indoors and outdoors, you enable your cat to indulge in a normal and instinctive behavior. A large, outdoor planter full of oat, wheat grass or rye grass allows your cat to lounge in, as well as eat, healthy, safe grass.