What is Everlasting Pea Poisoning?
In cats, symptoms of everlasting pea poisoning typically manifest immediately. In larger animals, poisoning from the everlasting pea plant tends to cause cumulative symptoms. However, every animal is different, and there is a chance that severe symptoms can set in over time. If you suspect your cat has ingested the everlasting pea in any quantity, take it to the vet immediately even if it is not showing symptoms.
The everlasting pea plant, also called the sweet pea and the perennial pea, is a member of the Fabaceae family, which is toxic to domestic animals and horses. Recognize the everlasting pea by its light purple clusters of flowers. The everlasting pea plant contains the toxin aminopropionitrile, which affects the neurological, muscular, and skeletal systems.
Symptoms of Everlasting Pea Poisoning in Cats
Everlasting pea poisoning primarily affects the neurological system, and may or may not appear immediately following ingestion. If you suspect your cat has ingested the everlasting pea plant, be aware of the following symptoms and take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice them.
- Lethargy and weakness
- Excessive pacing
- Sudden death
Causes of Everlasting Pea Poisoning in Cats
The cause of everlasting pea poisoning in cats is ingestion of the plant. The main toxin in the everlasting pea is aminopropionitrile, which reduces the synthesis of collagen and prevents the body’s ability to heal muscles and connective tissues. Every part of the plant is poisonous. Since the everlasting pea causes upset in the gastrointestinal tract, it is unlikely that your cat will consume the everlasting pea in large quantities. At present, the amount your cat needs to ingest in order to develop poisoning is not fully understood. If your cat has ingested any part of the everlasting pea plant in any quantity, use caution and consult your vet immediately.
Diagnosis of Everlasting Pea Poisoning in Cats
With any case of plant poisoning, you should call your vet before you arrive to let them know they will need to treat an emergency cause of poisoning. If you’re able to, take part of the everlasting pea plant with you when you go to the vet. Being able to give an approximate estimate of how much of the plant your cat ingested may be helpful to your vet for making the diagnosis, but is not necessary.
Tell your vet how long your cat has been experiencing systems. Your vet will confirm everlasting pea poisoning through standard diagnostic testing. These tests may include blood and urine analysis as well as an examination of the gastric acid to confirm the presence of the plant and toxin. Other tests may be conducted based on your cat’s symptoms.
Treatment of Everlasting Pea Poisoning in Cats
Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your cat’s poisoning. Your vet can advise you on a specific treatment plan based on your cat’s situation.
There is no specific antidote to treat everlasting pea poisoning. Mild cases of plant poisoning are usually treated conservatively using supportive intravenous fluid and nutritional therapies. Your vet may induce vomiting to clear the poison from your cat’s gastrointestinal tract. Activated charcoal is also useful for absorbing the toxin in your cat’s stomach. If your cat is suffering from persistent vomiting, your vet may administer anti-vomiting and/or anti-nausea medication. Other medications may be prescribed to control seizures and other symptoms.
Severe cases of everlasting pea poisoning are extremely rare in cats and other domestic animals. Severe poisoning only occurs if the cat has ingested large amounts of the everlasting pea or has ingested it continuously for several days. If your cat has suffered severe poisoning or organ damage, treatment may be more aggressive depending on the extent of the damage and symptoms present.
Recovery of Everlasting Pea Poisoning in Cats
Recovery and prognosis may vary depending on the severity of poisoning and how quickly it was treated. Most cats recover from mild cases of plant poisoning within a few hours. Severe cases of poisoning have a guarded prognosis.
If your cat encountered the everlasting pea while they were outside, you may want to restrict your cat’s outdoor activity to avoid future bouts of poisoning. If you purchased or grew the everlasting pea as a house or garden plant, remove it immediately. Before making any plant purchases, do your research to ensure your prospective purchase does not contain any substances that may be toxic for your cat.
For most mild cases of poisoning, follow-up appointments usually aren’t required. For severe cases of poisoning, follow-up appointments may be scheduled as needed to monitor healing and to ensure that no further tissue or muscular damage has occurred.