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What is Lady of the Night Poisoning?

The lady of the night contains hopeanine, which is a depressant, and brunfelsamidine, which is a stimulant. If a cat ingests even a small amount of this plant, he may begin to exhibit symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty walking, and seizures.

It’s imperative you take your cat to a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible. A vet will ensure all of the toxins from the lady of the night plant have been removed from your cat’s body. He can also make your cat more comfortable with treatment designed to alleviate the symptoms of this condition.

The lady of the night plant, also known as the yesterday, today, tomorrow plant or the noon and night plant, is used as a decorative shrub in residential gardens and found naturally in wooded areas. However, it is highly toxic to cats, so cat owners should go to great lengths to prevent their pet from being exposed to it. 

Symptoms of Lady of the Night Poisoning in Cats

Symptoms will usually begin immediately after your cat consumes the lady of the night plant. The symptoms will vary depending on how much of the plant was consumed and how much time has passed since consumption. Some of the symptoms you may observe include:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Extreme shaking
  • Difficulty walking
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive salivation
  • Coughing

Causes of Lady of the Night Poisoning in Cats

Lady of the night poisoning is caused by exposure to the lady of the night plant. Every part of the lady of the night plant contains two different toxins, hopeanine and brunfelsamidine. Hopeanine is a depressant, while brunfelsamidine is a stimulant. The berries have the highest concentration of toxins and are therefore the most dangerous part of the plant to cats.

Diagnosis of Lady of the Night Poisoning in Cats

Take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as you see him eating lady of the night plant. If you don’t witness him eating the plant, you should still bring him in as soon as you see any symptoms that indicate poisoning. Try to bring in either a photograph or sample of the plant so the vet can easily diagnose the cat’s condition. Otherwise, you will need to describe the symptoms in detail to the vet. It’s also helpful if you can bring in a sample of the cat’s vomit, which may contain plant matter.

There is no test to diagnose lady of the night poisoning, so you will need to provide as much information as possible to the vet to help him get to the bottom of what’s causing your cat’s symptoms. The vet may perform a physical examination of your cat, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile. He may also use an endoscope to examine the cat’s stomach contents and look for any remaining plant matter. If he is able to spot any plant matter, this will help him confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Lady of the Night Poisoning in Cats

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment will begin immediately. The vet will need to induce vomiting to remove any lady of the night plant that remains in your cat’s stomach. This is done by orally administering a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. After the vomiting has stopped, the vet will administer activated charcoal, which will absorb toxins that have not yet entered the bloodstream. This treatment can be repeated every six or seven hours if the vet thinks it is necessary. Finally, the vet may also recommend a gastric lavage, which is the medical term for stomach wash, to flush out the stomach cavity. The vet can give your cat either Kaopectin or sucralfate to line the stomach cavity and prevent further irritation and vomiting.

If your cat is experiencing seizures, the vet will need to administer sodium pentobarbital through an IV until the seizures have stopped or improved. Your cat may also need to receive fluids through an IV if he has become dehydrated because of the induced vomiting and diarrhea.

Recovery of Lady of the Night Poisoning in Cats

The sooner you take your cat to a veterinarian, the better his chances are of making a full recovery. Some cats will need to be kept after treatment so the vet can closely monitor their condition. It’s possible your cat will need to remain connected to an IV to receive fluids and anti-tremor medication.

Once you bring your cat home, keep him calm and comfortable while he recovers and regains his strength. He may need to eat a modified diet of softer foods while he recovers, or the vet may ask that you do not feed him for 24 hours following treatment while his stomach is still sensitive.

Remove any lady of the night from your home and yard. If you believe your cat came into contact with it in someone else’s yard, it’s best to keep your cat indoors to prevent further exposure.