What is Giant Dumb Cane Poisoning?
When a cat chews on the giant dumb cane plant, crystals are released into the cat’s mouth that penetrate through tissue and cause pain. The cat will immediately begin to show signs of oral irritation, including pawing at the mouth and drooling.
The giant dumb cane plant tastes very bitter, so it is unlikely that your cat will ingest enough of it to make this condition life-threatening, however, it is possible. Regardless of how much is ingested, it’s important to take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible if he is exhibiting any signs of discomfort. Even though the condition probably isn’t serious, the vet can still provide treatment to alleviate the pain.
The giant dumb cane plant, which is also known as the mother-in-law plant, is a popular houseplant and can also be used as a decorative plant in residential gardens. Unfortunately, it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic to cats and can cause a great deal of discomfort.
Symptoms of Giant Dumb Cane Poisoning in Cats
The symptoms of giant dumb cane poisoning will vary from cat to cat. Cats will usually begin to experience symptoms right away, and if left untreated, the discomfort can persist for up to two weeks following exposure. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Irritation of the oral cavity
- Pawing at the mouth
Causes of Giant Dumb Cane Poisoning in Cats
Giant dumb cane poisoning is caused by exposure to the giant dumb cane plant. These plants contain crystals of calcium oxalate known as raphides. When the cat begins to chew or bite into a piece of the plant, the crystals are released into the cat’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract if ingested. The crystals have the ability to penetrate through the tissues inside your cat’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract to cause extreme discomfort.
Diagnosis of Giant Dumb Cane Poisoning in Cats
If you spot symptoms of giant dumb cane poisoning, or if you see your cat chewing on this plant, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you can, bring a piece of the plant or a picture of it to make the diagnosis process easier for the vet. If the cat has already started to vomit, it may be helpful to bring in a sample of the vomit, which may contain plant pieces. Describe the symptoms you have observed, when they began, and let your vet know whether your cat may have been exposed to any plants or trees in your house or yard.
There is not a test that the vet can perform to diagnose giant dumb cane poisoning. Vets will often diagnose this condition based solely on what the cat's owner has described. But, they will also be able to see signs of calcium oxalate crystals during an oral examination.
Treatment of Giant Dumb Cane Poisoning in Cats
Treatment will begin immediately following a diagnosis, and will focus on making your cat more comfortable. The vet will thoroughly wash out your cat’s mouth to relieve discomfort associated with the crystals. He can also perform a gastric lavage, which is the medical term for stomach wash, to flush out your cat’s stomach cavity as well.
The vet may feed your cat yogurt, cheese, milk, or any other product that contains calcium, as this can help relieve the pain caused by crystals.
Benadryl may also be administered to your cat to manage swelling. If it is not administered, it’s possible your cat’s airways may begin to swell up, making it difficult or impossible for him to breathe.
Some cats will experience dehydration because of excessive vomiting. These cats will need to receive fluids intravenously to regain their strength. The vet can also administer Kapectolin or sucralfate, which are two medications designed to protect the stomach lining and prevent further irritation. These medications will stop vomiting and ease any discomfort your cat may be experiencing.
Recovery of Giant Dumb Cane Poisoning in Cats
Most cats will make a full recovery from giant dumb cane poisoning. It is common for your cat to be released to you immediately following treatment, however the vet may keep the cat to monitor his vitals if his condition is severe. This is especially common in cases which the airway was swelling.
Talk to your vet about what foods you should feed your cat in the days following treatment. Your cat’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract will be very sore, so it is recommended you stick to soft foods that will not cause irritation.
The most important part of recovery is preventing exposure to the giant dumb cane plant. Remove the plant from your home. If the exposure took place outside, it’s best that you keep your cat indoors as much as possible to prevent him from making contact with the plant again.