What is Exotica Poisoning?
Exotica poisoning tends to cause moderate symptoms and is typically not life-threatening. However, if you think your cat has ingested the exotica plant in any quantity, you should take it to the vet immediately in order to relieve any discomfort.
The exotica plant, also called tropic snow, is a common household and garden plant. It belongs to the Araceae family, which contains many types of plants that are toxic to cats. Its scientific name is Dieffenbachia amoena. Recognize the exotica plant by its long, broad leaves that feature a light green pattern. The exotica plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which produce a feeling of tiny pinpricks in the mouth when ingested.
Symptoms of Exotica Poisoning in Cats
Symptoms of exotica poisoning can be nonspecific, and typically manifest quickly after ingestion. If left untreated, symptoms can last for up to two weeks. Ingesting the exotica plant will cause pain for your cat, so take it to the vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Signs of oral irritation
- Pawing at the mouth
- Excessive meowing
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
- Rapid or shallow breathing
Causes of Exotica Poisoning in Cats
The cause of exotica poisoning in cats is ingestion. The exotica plant contains toxic, insoluble calcium oxalates, which cause irritation in the mouth and significant pain for your cat. All parts of the plant are poisonous, although the leaves contain lower levels of toxins. However, just chewing on the leaves can trigger symptoms of poisoning in your cat. Exercise caution and consult your vet immediately if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of the exotica plant in any quantity.
Diagnosis of Exotica Poisoning in Cats
It is a good idea to call your vet before you arrive to let them know they will need to treat an emergency case of poisoning. If the exotica plant is a house plant, take a sample of it with you when you go to the vet. If you have an approximate estimate of how much of the plant your cat consumed, provide this information to your vet. This may assist them in making the diagnosis, but is not necessary.
You should tell your vet how long your cat has been experiencing symptoms. Your vet will conduct a thorough physical examination and may be able to reach the definitive diagnosis based on presentation of symptoms. In order to confirm the diagnosis, your vet will utilize standard diagnostic testing, including blood and urine analysis as well as complete blood count.
Treatment of Exotica Poisoning in Cats
Treatment may vary depending on the amount of the plant your cat ingested. The primary objective of treatment is to relieve your cat’s discomfort. Your vet will first try to rinse out your cat’s mouth. This will clear the calcium oxalate crystals and reduce pain. Afterward, your vet will conduct a neurological examination to ensure the calcium oxalate crystals have not affected the neurological system. If swelling has occurred, your vet may prescribe antihistamines to reduce swelling and inflammation. This course of treatment may be sufficient for mild cases of poisoning. If your cat has experienced severe swelling, persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea, or dehydration as a result of poisoning, your vet may recommend intravenous fluid therapy to correct fluid imbalances.
Severe cases of exotica poisoning are very rare in cats, as the oral discomfort they experience prevents them from eating larger quantities of the plant. However, excessive ingestion of insoluble calcium oxalates may cause kidney or liver damage. If this is the case, your vet may recommend that your cat is hospitalized in order to monitor kidney and liver function. Additional treatment for severe poisoning will be recommended on a case-by-case basis.
Recovery of Exotica Poisoning in Cats
Recovery and prognosis are generally very good for mild cases of exotica poisoning that have been treated quickly. Most cats that have experienced mild exotica poisoning recover within a few hours. The prognosis for severe cases of poisoning will vary based on symptoms present and the extent of organ damage.
If you purchased exotica as a house or garden plant, remove it from your home, rather than simply place it out of your cat’s reach, in order to prevent future cases of poisoning. Cats are known for accessing hard-to-reach places, so may still gain access to plants in the home. It is always a good idea to research plants before making any purchases to ensure they do not contain substances that are toxic to your cat.
For most mild cases of poisoning, your vet will not usually schedule any follow-up appointments. For severe cases of poisoning that result in organ damage, follow-up appointments will be scheduled as needed to monitor recovery.