What is Fiddle Leaf Poisoning?
The fiddle leaf plant usually causes a mild form of toxicity in cats due to the fact that most felines spit out the plant after experiencing the burning sensation of the needle-like raphides it contains. Most felines will display very obvious signs of mouth irritation followed by vomiting and difficulties breathing. A fiddle leaf poisoning in cats should always be addressed by a veterinarian, as severe swelling of the upper airways can cause suffocation.
Symptoms of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Cats
Clinical signs of a fiddle leaf poisoning in cats may be seen immediately after ingestion, as biting into the fiddle leaf plant releases the needle-like oxalate crystals, piercing the feline’s tissues. The feline may begin to paw at her face, begin drooling profusely, or foam at the mouth. The felines face, lips and tongue will likely swell, as well as the upper airways making breathing difficult. If the feline swallowed the plant vegetation, despite irritation to the mouth, he or she may vomit in an attempt to rid the body of the indigestible toxin.
Causes of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Cats
A feline can become poisoned by all parts of the fiddle leaf plant, including the leaves, roots and stem. The fiddle leaf contains raphides, which are non-living substances are characterized by bundles of needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate packed with gelatinous, oxalic acid.
When a feline consumes a portion of the Fiddle Leaf plant, the idioblast cell is broken down by the cat’s saliva and allows the raphides’ calcium crystals to leave the cell. When the raphides leave the idioblast cell, they shoot out in violent, penetrating projections that pierce the feline’s mouth and embed themselves in the upper digestive tract. The feline feels immediate discomfort as the millions of microscopic needles lodges themselves in the mouth, tongue, throat and stomach.
Diagnosis of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing a fiddle leaf 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 fiddle leaf 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 exposure to the fiddle leaf, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes. The clinical signs that fiddle leaf poisoning causes in cat, such as vomiting, are the same symptoms as several other feline health conditions. The veterinarian will want to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from fiddle leaf 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 Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Cats
Fiddle leaf poisoning in cats is treated by removing the plant from the feline to prevent further ingestion and eliminating the toxins from the cat’s body. As oral irritation is common, the cat’s mouth will be flushed out with distilled water. An emetic drug will likely be administered to encourage the feline to vomit and remove undigested plant vegetation from the cat’s upper digestive system. If your cat has not vomited, the universal antidote for plant toxicity known as activated charcoal may be administered by the veterinarian. Activated charcoal will bind with the toxic agent and prevent the body from further absorption of the plant chemicals. If the stomach has undergone irritation from consuming the fiddle leaf plant, the veterinarian may administer Kapectolin, a product that provides a thick coating to the stomach wall. To reduce the stomach acid inside the stomach and prevent high acidity from corroding the stomach’s mucosal layer, the veterinarian may administer sucralfate. Sucralfate works with the stomach acid to form a paste-like coating, acting as a barrier between the stomach contents and the stomach’s soft tissues. The feline’s treatment may end with intravenous fluids to restore his or her hydration, as vomiting and diarrhea will cause the cat’s fluid levels to drop significantly.
Recovery of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Cats
The prognosis for fiddle leaf poisoning in cats is generally good to excellent. Most cats will begin to show signs of improvement within an hour of treatment and make a full recovery after 24 hours. As with all plant toxicity cases, the earlier the feline is admitted to the veterinary hospital, the greater chance she/he has of making a full recovery.