What is Impala Lily Poisoning?
Impala lily poisoning is a plant-based toxicity caused by the ingestion of one or more parts of this flowering plant. The toxic principles of the impala lily are cardiac glycosides and cardioactive steroids that can be found throughout the entire plant. A feline that consumes this red to violet colored, flowering plant will develop clinical signs of irregular heartbeat, depression, anorexia, diarrhea, and vomiting. The impala lily plant is highly toxic and consuming only a small amount of the plant can result in fatality, which makes immediate veterinary medical care of the utmost importance for survival.
The impala lily is a member of the Apocynaceae family. Although given the scientific name, Adenium obesum, the impala lily is more commonly known by its other names; kudu lily, desert azalea, Sabi star, mock azalea and desert rose. This brightly colored flowering plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Sahel, Africa, as well as Arabia. Today, the impala lily is commonly found in local homes and gardens, raising the potential threat of feline intoxication.
Symptoms of Impala Lily Poisoning in Cats
A feline that has ingested any portion of the impala lily plant will develop an array of toxicity symptoms. Even in small quantities, the impala lily is lethal and clinical signs can soon turn into fatality if they are not addressed promptly. Symptoms of an impala lily poisoning in cats that pet owners should watch for include the following:
- Severe gastrointestinal upset
- Abdominal pain
- Cardiac abnormalities
- Decreased body temperature
- Decreased activity
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Myocardial excitation
Causes of Impala Lily Poisoning in Cats
Impala lily poisoning in cats is caused by the ingestion of any portion of the plant including; the roots, stem, leaves, or flower. Cardiac glycosides and cardioactive steroids are found throughout the entire impala lily plant, which target the transmembrane protein complex causing Na+/K+ ATPase (sodium potassium) inhibition. The plant also contains digitalis like glycosides, digitalinum verum hexacetate, somaline, digitalinum verum, as well as, honghelosides A, D, E and F.
Diagnosis of Impala Lily Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing an impala lily 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 an impala lily 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 impala lily, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes. The clinical signs that impala lilypoisoning causes in cat, such as myocardia, are similar to other heart-related health conditions. The veterinarian will want to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from impala lily 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)
- Chest x-ray
- Chest ultrasound
Treatment of Impala Lily Poisoning in Cats
Impala lily 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. Impala lily poisoning is considered a medical emergency and prompt veterinary care is required for survival.
An emetic drug will likely be administered to encourage the feline to vomit and remove undigested plant vegetation from the cat’s upper digestive system. A gastric lavage may be necessary to manually remove the plant material from the stomach that has not yet been broken down and passed through the digestive tract. If your cat has not vomited, 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. As the toxic components of the impala lily target the heart, a cardiac drug may be administered to the feline to discourage heart rhythm abnormalities. 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 Impala Lily Poisoning in Cats
Impala lily poisoning in cats is treated as a medical emergency and even felines that have received veterinary medical attention may not survive the toxic effects of this plant. As the impala lily is bitter in taste, it is not likely that a feline will consume a large quantity of plant material, but even a small portion of the plant is lethal. Therefore, to prevent impala lily toxicity in your cat, it is best to remove the colorful plant from your cat’s environment.