What is Ivy Arum Poisoning?
The ivy arum, also called golden pothos and devil’s ivy, is a member of the Araceae family. Many plants within this family are poisonous to cats. This is because they contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which are toxic to cats. Though severe ivy arum poisoning in cats is unlikely due to its immediate painful effects that deter cats from ingesting a substantial amount of plant material, you should take your cat to the vet immediately if you believe it has consumed any part of the ivy arum plant in any quantity. If left untreated, symptoms can last for as long as two weeks. Recognize the ivy arum by its spade-shaped, pointy leaves and uneven coloring.
Symptoms of Ivy Arum Poisoning in Cats
Symptoms of ivy arum poisoning are typically immediate onset, usually appearing within the first two hours, and will be very painful for your cat. If you notice any of the following symptoms, take your cat to the vet immediately:
- Pawing at the face
- Difficulty swallowing and breathing
- Excessive meowing
- Swollen tongue or lips
- Signs of oral irritation
- Dilated pupils*
- Cardiac abnormalities*
- Sudden death*
*Denotes serious, life-threatening symptoms associated with ingestion of large quantities.
Causes of Ivy Arum Poisoning in Cats
The cause of ivy arum poisoning in cats is ingesting or chewing the leaves of the plant. When your cat chews the leaves of the ivy arum, insoluble calcium oxalate crystals are released from the plant’s cells. These crystals cause pain to manifest quickly. Since symptoms develop rapidly, it is unlikely that your cat will ingest large quantities of the plant. However, it is always best to remain cautious in any case of plant poisoning and take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect poisoning has occurred.
Diagnosis of Ivy Arum Poisoning in Cats
Before rushing your cat to the vet, you should call to let them know they will need to treat an emergency case of poisoning. Your vet may be able to advise you on any steps you need to take during this time to relieve your cat’s pain. If the ivy arum is a house plant, take a sample of it with you when you go. If you’re able to, tell your vet how much of the plant your cat ingested as well as how long they have been experiencing symptoms. While this is helpful in making the diagnosis, it is not necessary.
Your vet can confirm plant poisoning using standard diagnostic testing methods, including blood and urine analysis. Your vet may conduct additional tests based on your cat’s symptoms and whether or not organ damage is suspected.
Treatment of Ivy Arum Poisoning in Cats
Treatment may vary depending on the severity of poisoning and the amount ingested. Mild cases of poisoning are usually resolved within a few hours.
Your vet will first rinse your cat’s mouth with water in order to clear the oxalate crystals. If persistent vomiting has occurred, your vet may administer medications to stop vomiting. Your vet may administer antihistamines to reduce swelling in the mouth. Other conservative treatments may be utilized based on your cat’s symptoms.
If your cat has ingested a large quantity of ivy arum and is having difficulty breathing, more aggressive treatment and/or hospitalization may be required. Your vet may start intravenous fluid therapy to correct fluid and electrolyte imbalances. Your vet will monitor your cat’s organ function and recommend additional treatment methods based on your cat’s symptoms.
Recovery of Ivy Arum Poisoning in Cats
Most cats with mild cases of ivy arum poisoning recover within twenty-four hours as long as the poisoning is caught and treated quickly. Prognosis and recovery may vary for more severe cases of poisoning.
If your cat encountered the ivy arum during outdoor activity, it may be a good idea to limit your cat’s outdoor activity to prevent future cases of poisoning. If the ivy arum is a house or garden plant, removing it can reduce the risk of poisoning. Always research any plants you plan to purchase to make sure they do not contain substances that are toxic for your cat.
Attempting to treat any case of plant poisoning at home is not recommended. Owners cannot know the full extent of poisoning even if symptoms appear to be mild. You should always consult a veterinary professional if your cat has ingested a toxic plant to ensure the best prognosis.
Follow-up appointments are not generally necessary for mild cases of poisoning treated quickly and successfully. For severe cases of ivy arum poisoning, your vet will schedule follow-up appointments as needed to monitor heart and organ function.