What is Lovage Poisoning?
Lovage is a species of shrub which is commonly found across much of Europe and Asia due to its especially resilient nature. Humans have cultivated lovage for thousands of years for use as both a food and a medicine. However, if ingested by cats, the plant can have some potentially dangerous side effects due to the chemicals present in its roots and leaves.
Symptoms of Lovage Poisoning in Cats
Unfortunately, the symptoms of lovage poisoning are somewhat hard to detect due to their relatively subtle characteristics when compared to other cases of plant poisoning. Because of this, owners should be especially vigilant if they think that something is wrong with their cat, lest further complications should arise.
Urination: After the cat has ingested the lovage matter, the chemicals contained therein will have a diuretic effect on its body, causing it to start urinating excessively. This urination is not an uncontrollable release of the bladder contents, but is instead simply an increase in the cat's production of urine that results in more frequent urination. Whilst this is not necessarily dangerous by itself, a marked loss of water from an animal as small as a cat can often lead to dehydration setting in and causing serious health problems. To avoid this, owners should make as much extra water available as possible for the cat to drink and stay properly hydrated.
Laziness: Owners may also notice that the cat may start to appear even more relaxed than usual. This can be differentiated from a normal state of relaxation if the animal is unresponsive to external stimuli such as food, attempts to play, or even the presence of normal prey animals. The cat may also exhibit a degree of weakness when moving. This sedentary behavior is most often attributed to the toxins found in the lovage plant, but can also be indicative of the onset of dehydration.
Photosensitivity: One of the most dangerous effects that the lovage plant can have on a cat that has consumed it, is the provocation of increased photosensitivity. A cat suffering from photosensitivity will typically attempt to isolate itself in a darkened section of the house or garden, in an attempt to avoid direct sunlight. Although the photosensitivity caused by lovage is usually quite mild (i.e. not provoking dermatitis), it can still cause damage to the tissues of the eyes if the cat is exposed to bright sunlight.
Causes of Lovage Poisoning in Cats
Lovage contains two main groups of chemicals which are responsible for the symptoms listed above. The first of these are 'phthalide lactones'. These originate in the natural oils that are present in the plant and are responsible for the plant's cultivation by humans due to their potent diuretic effect once ingested. The mechanism by which phthalide lactones cause this loss of fluid is via stimulating the pancreas to trigger the production of more urine. The second group of chemicals found in lovage are called 'furanocoumarins' and are the cause of the photosensitivity that affected animals may experience. After being ingested, the toxin provokes photosensitivity by bonding with cells and reducing their ability to protect themselves against ultraviolet radiation, eventually causing damage and cell death.
Diagnosis of Lovage Poisoning in Cats
Once the cat has been brought to the veterinary clinic, the vet will first perform a physical examination of the cat in order to both confirm the severity of their condition and ascertain whether or not they have additional, hitherto unnoticed symptoms. They might also elect to draw a blood sample from the cat in order to determine exactly what toxins are responsible. Owners should be aware that the vet will most probably have a number of questions for them regarding the cat's medical history as well as the immediate circumstances surrounding the lovage poisoning.
Treatment of Lovage Poisoning in Cats
One of the main risks posed by lovage poisoning is the development of dehydration. Because of this, the vet's first priority will most likely be to start the cat on a course of fluid therapy. This will directly introduce liquid into the cat's body, rehydrating them quickly and simultaneously helping 'flush' the lovage toxins out of the animal's body. Depending on the amount of lovage that has been ingested, it may also be necessary to give the cOne of the main risks posed by lovage poisoning is the development of dehydration. Because of this, the vet's first priority will most likely be to start the cat on a course of fluid therapy. This will directly introduce liquid into the cat's body, rehydrating them quickly and simultaneously helping 'flush' the lovage toxins out of the animal's body. Depending on the amount of lovage that has been ingested, it may also be necessary to give the cat a dose of activated charcoal in order to absorb any toxins that remain in its stomach.
Recovery of Lovage Poisoning in Cats
The vast majority of cats affected by lovage poisoning will recover within the space of a week, provided that there is no further exposure to the plant. Unless the cat was severely affected or was suffering from a secondary complication such as dehydration, the vet will not typically insist on a follow-up appointment. Instead, most owners will simply be required to confine the cat to the house for a few days in order to allow it time to properly recover before venturing back outside.