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What is Florida Beauty Poisoning?

While houseplants can be an attractive way to add greenery and decoration to a home, many common types of indoor potted plants can also be toxic to cats. Florida beauty is a common plant, grown indoors, that when ingested could be potentially harmful to your family pet. Young kittens are especially prone to Florida beauty poisoning given their small size and inquisitive nature that causes them to chew on many household objects, including plants. If you believe your cat is suffering from Florida beauty poisoning, or has recently ingested any plant and is displaying abnormal behavior, you should seek immediate veterinary care. Recovery of your cat from poisoning will often depend on how quickly they receive medical treatment.

Symptoms of Florida Beauty Poisoning in Cats

Florida beauty poisoning can cause a variety of symptoms in your cat. These will vary in severity depending on your cat’s age and size and how much of the plant they ingest. Common signs to watch for include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • GI upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking

Causes of Florida Beauty Poisoning in Cats

Although cats are not able to digest plant material, their natural curiosity and healthy appetites will often cause them to chew or eat household or outdoor plants. In most cases, your cat will simply vomit back up the material that they are unable to digest. When your cat ingests a plant that also has poisonous compounds, such as Florida beauty, they will have additional symptoms and complications.

Florida beauty is a green tropical appearing plant with large, flat green leaves speckled with white or cream-colored spots. The plant can also produce small white flowers that appear at the end of inflorescences or stems. Other common names for Florida beauty are:

  • Gold dust Dracaena
  • Spotted-Leaf Dracaena
  • Japanese Bamboo
  • Gold Dust Plant

Florida beauty is a member of the Asparagaceae family of plants. All portions of the plant are toxic to your cat. 

Diagnosis of Florida Beauty Poisoning in Cats

Your veterinarian will diagnose Florida beauty poisoning in your cat during an initial office visit. Many of the symptoms of poisoning will be similar to other conditions, some serious or even fatal. Because the prospect of recovery from poisoning of any kind is dependent on the speed in which they receive proper treatment, it will be important to provide your vet with as much background information as possible regarding the suspected poisoning. If your cat was seen chewing or eating a plant, you should collect a sample from the plant large enough to help your vet determine the exact species. This will allow you vet to confirm the possibility of poisoning and begin administration of medications or treatment that may help minimize symptoms and speed up recovery.

During your cat’s exam, your vet will check their temperature and vital signs include heart rate and breath sounds. Your vet may also choose to take a blood and urine sample, either before diagnosis or after or during treatment, to ensure proper kidney, liver and other organ function. Your vet will also check pupil dilation if Florida beauty poisoning is suspected. This is done by shining a small light into your cat’s eyes and observing the speed of which the pupil dilates and constricts in response.

Treatment of Florida Beauty Poisoning in Cats

Treatment of Florida beauty poisoning will occur in several stages. First, your vet will work quickly to stabilize your cat’s vital signs and treat any life-threatening symptoms. Medications may be given to help stabilize your cat’s heart rate and to aid in proper respiration by opening up the bronchial tubes. Oxygen may also be administered with the use of a small mask if your cat is suffering from breathing difficulties.

After your cat has been stabilized, your vet will work to remove any remaining plant material from their system. The mouth will be thoroughly inspected for any additional leaves or stems. Your vet may also want to induce vomiting, if your cat is not already doing so. This is done by inserting a tube directly into your cat’s stomach via their mouth and throat. A solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide is then poured directly into your cat’s stomach. This will cause immediate vomiting of any remaining material. While this will be uncomfortable for your cat, it is an important part of the treatment process to stop the absorption of additional toxic compound.

Recovery of Florida Beauty Poisoning in Cats

With proper and prompt care most cats will make a full recovery from Florida beauty poisoning. Your cat will need follow-up vet visits in order to re-check blood and urine and to ensure they suffered no long term effects. Cat owners should research plants that are toxic to their pets and remove these from the household or place them out of reach.