What is Franciscan Rain Tree Poisoning?

Franciscan rain tree is a tropical, perennial, flowering shrub that produces small single layered petal flowers with sprawling green foliage. Franciscan rain tree poisoning occurs when your cat ingests any portion of the plant. While all parts of the Franciscan rain tree are poisoning to your cat, the flowers, berries, and seeds contain the highest concentrations of toxic compounds. While these plants may make attractive decorations in your outdoors garden, pet owners should be aware that their pet could suffer serious symptoms if the plant is ingested. Immediate veterinary care will give your pet the best potential for recovery from Franciscan rain tree poisoning.

Symptoms of Franciscan Rain Tree Poisoning in Cats

Symptoms of Franciscan rain tree poisoning tend to be very severe and can affect cats even if only a small amount of the plant is consumed, due to their smaller size by body weight. Signs of Franciscan rain tree poisoning in your cat may include:

  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Lack of coordination or ability to walk
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Rapid breathing
  • Inability to regulate body temperature
  • Disorientation

Causes of Franciscan Rain Tree Poisoning in Cats

Franciscan rain tree is an attractive plant with white, purple or light lavender flowers that is grown as a perennial in many household gardens. The plant is a member of the Solanaceae family, which contains a variety of toxic and poisonous plants. Other common names for the plant include kiss-me-quick, yesterday, today, tomorrow and lady of the night. Franciscan rain tree poisoning occurs when your cat ingests any part of the plant.

Poisoning from the Franciscan rain tree is caused by two toxic compounds: brunfelsamidine and hopeanine. The plant may also contain additional chemicals of unknown identity that also produce serious health issues in your pet. All of these compounds affect your cat’s body by interfering with neurotransmission.

Diagnosis of Franciscan Rain Tree Poisoning in Cats

Your vet will begin diagnosis of Franciscan rain tree poisoning in your cat with a thorough physical examination in their office. The symptoms of plant poisoning of any kind are often difficult to differentiate. If you witnessed your cat ingesting or chewing on a specific plant you should bring along a sample to your vet’s office so that they can pinpoint the exact toxic compounds. This will help with your vet prescribing the most effective treatment.

Your vet will listen to your cat’s vital signs including heart rate and breathing. A cat’s normal heart rate will be between 140-220 beats per minute and normal breathing is 20-30 breaths per minute. Your vet will closely inspect your cat’s mouth, paws and exposed skin areas for indications of allergic reaction, which can often mimic the symptoms of some types of poisoning. If your cat has any existing medical conditions you should alert your vet to these as they may complicate treatment.

Treatment of Franciscan Rain Tree Poisoning in Cats

As with many cases of suspected poisoning, treatment after ingestion of Franciscan rain tree will take place in multiple stages. Your vet’s first priority will be to stabilize your cat’s vital signs by administering medications to aid in heart rate and breathing. If your cat is suffering tremors, medications may be given to reduce these in severe cases. As part of the initial treatment, your vet may also lavage or rinse out your cat’s mouth to attempt to eliminate residue of the toxic plant.

Next, your vet will induce your cat to vomit by having them ingest a solution of 3% peroxide. Vomiting can also be induced with an injection of a medication called apomorphine. Complications may arise from vomiting, such as aspiration pneumonia, and your vet will provide you with signs to watch for once your cat is discharged.

After your cat has vomited, there may still be additional toxic compounds in their stomach and digestive tract. Your vet will administer medical activated charcoal which absorbs a large number of chemicals. Activated charcoal is not digested by your cat and instead passes through their system. This will be given in connection with a medication to induce diarrhea which will speed the elimination of all toxic chemicals from your cat’s body.

Recovery of Franciscan Rain Tree Poisoning in Cats

Your cat’s prognosis for recovery from Franciscan rain tree poisoning is generally good if prompt veterinary care is ought after the initial poisoning. Your cat’s symptoms, especially any tremors, may last for several days after treatment. In most cases, your vet will ask to keep your cat for observation overnight or longer while symptoms persist. 

If your cat is allowed to return home they should be kept in a warm, dark and quiet place where they can remain calm and recover from poisoning. Your cat may need additional fluids to replace those lost from vomiting and diarrhea. Wetting their regular food or providing a bowl of watered down chicken broth will help encourage your cat to drink and speed their recovery.