What is Hawaiian Ti Poisoning?
The Hawaiian ti tree is known throughout the world by its scientific name, Cordyline fruticosa. However, the Hawaiian ti has also been given a variety of common names including; the snake plant, red ti, green ti, good luck tree or the ti tree. The Hawaiian ti is a type of evergreen that grows slowly with large, broad green leaves.
Hawaiian ti poisoning in cats is caused by the ingestion of any portion of the Hawaiian ti plant. The Hawaiian ti produces naturally occurring toxins, known as saponins, which cause the feline to develop gastrointestinal upset. Vomiting and diarrhea are the main symptoms of a Hawaiian ti poisoning in cats, but additional signs of central nervous system disruption may be present.
Symptoms of Hawaiian Ti Poisoning in Cats
The symptoms of a Hawaiian ti poisoning in cats are usually limited to gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. However, the Hawaiian ti toxin can also affect the feline’s pupil dilation and mood. A complete list of Hawaiian ti poisoning symptoms in cats are listed below:
- Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
Causes of Hawaiian Ti Poisoning in Cats
Hawaiian ti poisoning in cats is caused by the ingestion of any portion of the Hawaiian Ti plant. The Hawaiian Ti tree produces natural chemicals to protect itself from fungi, illnesses and insects, which are mildly toxic to domestic pets. These naturally occurring toxins, known as saponins, give the Hawaiian ti tree a bitter taste and the likelihood that a feline would ingest a fatal dosage of the plant is very low.
Diagnosis of Hawaiian Ti Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing a Hawaiian ti 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 Hawaiian ti 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 Hawaiian ti, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes. The clinical signs that Hawaiian ti poisoning causes in cat, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are the same symptoms as several other feline-related health conditions. The veterinarian will want to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from a Hawaiian ti 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 Hawaiian Ti Poisoning in Cats
Hawaiian ti poisoning in cats is treated by removing the plant material from the feline to prevent further ingestion and eliminating the toxins from the cat’s body. An emetic drug will likely be administered to encourage the feline to vomit and remove undigested Hawaiian ti 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 Hawaiian ti 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 Hawaiian Ti Poisoning in Cats
The prognosis for Hawaiian Ti 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.