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What is Lemongrass Poisoning?

Cats normally moderate the amounts of food they eat or nibble, but some cats may not be as able to moderate how much grass, including lemongrass, they ingest. This may lead to a mild GI upset. If your cat has eaten a large amount of this grass, it is at high risk of developing an intestinal blockage. Because of how attractive this grass is to cats, you may need to restrict its access.

Three kinds of lemongrass exist including Cymbopogon citratus, which is the form used in Thai and Asian cooking. Cymbopogon winterianus is a close cousin to Ceylon citronella, which is used to repel insects. Cymbopogon nardus, called citronella grass, looks like lemongrass except for its maroon stems. This plant is the source of citronella oil and is mildly toxic to your cat. 

Lemongrass, also called oil grass, comes from the Poaceae family. This plant is used widely in Thai foods, and while it isn’t toxic to humans, it can potentially harm dogs, cats and other wildlife. If your cat nibbles some baked goods or meals containing lemongrass, it should be just fine as long as it ate only a small amount. 

Lemongrass Poisoning Average Cost

From 249 quotes ranging from $200 - $850

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Lemongrass Poisoning in Cats

After your cat has eaten lemongrass, especially in larger amounts, you’ll notice the following symptoms:

  • Mild gastrointestinal upset
  • Abdominal pain
  • Distended abdomen (swollen abdomen)
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shock
  • Strains during defection
  • Vomiting

After eating larger amounts:

  • Chronic cystitis
  • Hind leg weakness
  • Urine leakage
  • Inability to eliminate body wastes

Concentrated lemongrass essence, in the form of an essential oil, is especially harmful for your cat. Your cat doesn’t have the necessary liver enzymes to break down the compounds in this essential oil.

If your cat is expressing an intensive craving for lemongrass, it may have some kind of nutritional deficiency or illness. Make sure to remove it from their environment and never have it in your home.

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Causes of Lemongrass Poisoning in Cats

Lemongrass isn’t harmful to cats, as long as they nibble in moderation. When made into an essential oil, lemongrass is potentially deadly for your cat. All cats lack glucuronyl transferase, a liver enzyme, that helps to break down most essential oils, including lemongrass.

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Diagnosis of Lemongrass Poisoning in Cats

Your vet will analyse your cat’s symptoms in diagnosing lemongrass poisoning. Along with a full physical, he will order a biochemistry profile, complete blood count and a urinalysis. Through these tests, the vet will see if he can detect any abnormalities in your cat’s blood.

Because lemongrass is so attractive to your cat, it may eat too much, putting it at risk of developing an intestinal blockage. Once you tell your vet what you cat has been eating, he’ll request X-rays and an ultrasound. This may include a barium study, which will allow the blockage to be spotted much more easily.

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Treatment of Lemongrass Poisoning in Cats

Your vet will provide treatments that help your cat return to health. These treatments may include an IV fluid drip, anti nausea medicine and ant acids.

If it has developed an intestinal blockage because of the amount of lemongrass it ate, the vet will need to surgically remove the obstruction.

In cases of poisoning with lemongrass essential oil, your vet will run tests on your cat’s liver function. This will need to be watched very closely to make sure liver damage isn’t beginning. To make this less likely to happen, your vet will make your cat vomit, wash out your cat’s stomach and use activated charcoal to absorb any toxin remaining in your cat’s body. IV fluids will also be started.

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Recovery of Lemongrass Poisoning in Cats

Your cat should recover fully from its bout of lemongrass poisoning. This plant is only mildly toxic and your cat may love nibbling from its leaves.

While your cat is restricted to the indoors of your house, make sure any other opportunities to eat lemongrass can’t take place. Remove all lemongrass from your home. Instead, grow cat-friendly grasses indoors and out. Give your cat watchful freedom to chew on these grasses rather than lemongrass.

If your cat didn’t have an overwhelming need to eat lemongrass or other dangerous substances before, but it does now, take it to the vet for a full examination. From vitamin deficiencies to circulatory issues and even brain lesions, your cat should be examined closely and tested. Once the appropriate treatment has been given for one of these conditions, they should resume eating a more normal diet. Watch their behavior and monitor the environment your cat is in. If you notice them inching toward lemongrass again, give them the opportunity to chew at a small amount, then move them to a different area.

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Lemongrass Poisoning Average Cost

From 249 quotes ranging from $200 - $850

Average Cost

$500

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Lemongrass Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Crouton

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tabby

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6 Years

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Fair severity

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5 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None At This Time

Yesterday I made some homemade dusting spray. The recipe included 1 cup of water, 1/5 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 15 drops of lemongrass essential oil. I use, maybe 2 tablespoons of this solution total. Can I continue to us this or shouldi discontinued using for the health of my cat? Also she had no contact with the solution while it was wet/damp.

April 15, 2018

Crouton's Owner

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5 Recommendations

Generally I advise against the use of essential oils around the home due to the possible toxic effects especially in cats; if the essential oil is diluted down in a carrier oil to less than 1% then it is generally considered safer. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 16, 2018

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Pixie

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Short hair domestic

dog-age-icon

11 Months

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Fair severity

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15 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My cat ate more lemon grass than usual yesterday and started vomiting today. She also didn’t each too much food this morning. Should be worried about lemongrass poisoning? What else should I look out for? And when do I know to take her to the vet?

Feb. 15, 2018

Pixie's Owner

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15 Recommendations

Lemongrass isn’t really toxic to cats (lemongrass essential oil is) but may cause gastrointestinal upset if eaten in large amounts or cause an obstruction in severe cases; you should restrict access to lemongrass if she is going to gorge herself. You should look for symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite or straining to defecate; however, if you are generally concerned you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Feb. 15, 2018

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Lemongrass Poisoning Average Cost

From 249 quotes ranging from $200 - $850

Average Cost

$500

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