What is Nasturtium Watercress Poisoning?
A nasturtium watercress poisoning in cats is a plant based toxicity caused by the ingestion of any portion of the plant, including the roots, leaves, stem or petals. Nasturtium watercress is only mildly toxic to felines as the symptoms associated with poisoning are limited to gastrointestinal upset. Although nasturtium watercress is not considered a true toxin in itself, the naturally growing plant filters toxins from the water and your cat could become infected with a waterborne agent. Therefore, if you witness your cat consuming any portion of the nasturtium watercress, contact a veterinarian promptly.
The nasturtium watercress is a member of the Brassicaceae family and is known throughout the world by its scientific name; Nasturtium officinale. The nasturtium watercress originates from Russia and parts of Europe, but is commonly found in areas of South America, Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. This aquatic plant is rich in vitamin E and beta-carotene, therefore, watercress is a common ingredient in herbal supplements. The nasturtium watercress has also become a popular garden vegetable, as its rich, spicy flavor is favorable for many people. Although manufactured nasturtium watercress can be safely consumed, wild or garden grown nasturtium watercress has toxic properties if it is consumed in large quantities.
Symptoms of Nasturtium Watercress Poisoning in Cats
The symptoms associated with nasturtium watercress poisoning in cats are limited to gastrointestinal upset. As nasturtium watercress irritates the stomach, the feline’s body will actively try to remove the indigestible vegetation through the act of vomiting and/or diarrhea. The feline may retch and appear depressed and weak after consuming the plant. If the nasturtium watercress plant is consumed over a long period of time, the feline may also develop clinical signs associated with damage to the thyroid or kidneys.
Causes of Nasturtium Watercress Poisoning in Cats
Nasturtium watercress poisoning in cats is caused by ingesting a large quantity of the aquatic plant. The toxic principle of the nasturtium watercress is its glucosinolate-myrosinase complex that is activated when the plant is chewed or crushed. The spicy flavor that people experience during consumption comes from the act of myrosinase and glucosinolate combining.
Diagnosis of Nasturtium Watercress Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing a nasturtium watercress 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 poisoning. The diagnostic process will begin with a physical examination, a 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 nasturtium watercress, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes. The clinical signs that nasturtium watercress poisoning causes in cats are the same symptoms as several other feline health conditions. The veterinarian will want to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from a plant 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)
- Fecal floatation test
- Fecal examination
- Abdominal ultrasound and/or x-ray
Treatment of Nasturtium Watercress Poisoning in Cats
As nasturtium watercress is not a true poisoning to felines and mainly an overdose of the stimulant, there is no true treatment specifically deemed for the condition. The cat’s own body does a fairly adequate job of removing the toxin from the body through vomiting and passing the digested particles through waste. However, a feline may require veterinary attention to induce vomiting, replenish fluids and treat any secondary infections, or intoxications. An emetic drug, or drug that encourages vomiting, paired with intravenous fluids may be administered to the feline upon veterinary visitation.
Recovery of Nasturtium Watercress Poisoning in Cats
The toxic effects of nasturtium watercress poisoning in cats are relatively short-lived, lasting only a few hours after the occurrence of vomiting or diarrhea. Without further exposure to the plant, the feline will make a full recovery in a few short hours. Your veterinarian will likely ask you to encourage the feline to consume a larger amount of water than usual to further eliminate the toxin from the body for the day of toxic intake, but activities should return to normal. To prevent a future toxic occurrence in the future, limit your cat’s exposure to the plant or discontinue any supplementary products your cat is currently taking with nasturtium watercress as one of the main ingredients.