What is Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning?
You’ll recognize golden bird’s nest by its long leaves. These are dark green with lighter, gray-green bands on the outer edges of the leaves. The leaves often twist as they grow upward. At its full growth, the leaves of this plant range from 27 to 36 inches high and two to two-and-a-half inches wide. Other names for this plant include magic sword, snake plant, good luck plant and mother-in-law’s tongue. Its scientific name is Sansevieria trifasciata. Because it’s so easy to care for, many plant lovers have chosen to make it an indoor plant.
The golden bird’s nest plant, which comes from the Agavaceae family, is mildly toxic to your cat. The toxins within this plant are organic acids and saponins, which may cause a short-lived skin irritation. Your cat may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms and depression. This plant has a very bitter taste, which makes it unlikely that your cat will be able to eat very much of it before it just turns away from the plant.
Symptoms of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Cats
Shortly after eating a little of the golden bird’s nest, your cat will show these symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive drooling
Causes of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Cats
The poisons in this plant are known as saponins. Golden bird’s nest also contains organic acids which contribute to the symptoms your cat will experience if it nibbles the leaves. Even though this plant is classified as “low” in toxicity, your cat will become ill after eating even a little bit of the plant.
After ingesting this plant, the saponins begin foaming inside your cat’s stomach. This is what leads to vomiting. This toxin also causes your cat’s red blood cells to rupture and interrupt the function of the cat’s cell pathways. This leads to cell death.
Your cat needs daily mental and physical stimulation so it won’t become bored and seek out mischief by nibbling your house plants.
Diagnosis of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Cats
Even if you didn’t see your cat nibbling at your Golden Bird’s Nest plant, once it develops vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea, you need to take it to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Once there, your cat will undergo a full physical, to include blood work and urinalysis, and if you have a sample of the plant your vet can test it to ensure that your cat is suffering from Golden Bird’s Nest poisoning.
The blood work allows the lab to carry out a complete blood count, chemistry panel, and a packed cell volume test. The last test tells the vet what your cat’s hydration status is. Urinalysis enables him to figure out your cat’s kidney function.
If your cat experiences diarrhea or vomiting while in the exam room, the vet will be able to examine both, seeking evidence of what your cat ate. The fecal sample also allows your vet to rule out other conditions, such as bacterial overgrowth or internal parasites.
Treatment of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Cats
After determining what has made your cat sick, the vet will give two medications to your cat. The first will be Kapectolin, a medication that helps to coat your cat’s stomach to protect the lining. The second medication, sucralfate, reacts with the digestive acids in your cat’s stomach, forming a pasty barrier, which protects your cat’s stomach.
Because of the repeated vomiting and diarrhea, your cat may be dehydrated, leading to the need for supportive rehydration. This will be completed via an IV. The IV will have electrolytes, which help with rehydration and restoring all the electrolytes your cat needs for good health.
If your cat has not started to vomit, your vet may induce vomiting. It’s important to help your pet get rid of any bits of the plant within its stomach. Activated charcoal helps to absorb any poison remaining in your cat’s stomach so it can’t be absorbed into its body.
If the cat is vomiting, your vet may give an antiemetic medication to control the vomiting.
Recovery of Golden Bird's Nest Poisoning in Cats
Because the toxins in golden bird’s nest are classified as low in toxicity, the chances of recovery for your pet are good. In general, cats do make a good recovery from this type of poisoning. Once treatment is started, recovery happens in one to two days.
Because the toxins and leaves of this plant have such a bitter taste, it is not likely your cat will be able to stand eating very much of it. Once it gets rid of the small amount of plant and toxins in its stomach, it will begin making a good recovery.
It’s only if your cat doesn’t receive veterinary care within a short time of symptoms developing that his chances of recovery begin to go down.