What is Painter's Palette Poisoning?
The toxin in painter’s palette is calcium oxalates, which are insoluble in liquids. This toxin causes an immediate burning sensation in your cat’s mouth, lips and tongue as it makes contact with your cat’s face. Because of this quality, your cat is unlikely to eat very much if a painter’s palette plant, making it less dangerous than some other plants.
Every part of this plant is toxic, though the leaves of some species may contain little to no toxin.
Painter’s palette, which comes from the Araceae family, is also known as tall flower, flamingo lily, pigtail blanket and oilcloth flower. The toxins in the plant are painfully poisonous to your cat.
Symptoms of Painter's Palette Poisoning in Cats
Your cat may experience two differing sets of symptoms after eating from a painter’s palette plant:
- Loss of appetite
- Intense drooling
Irritation and pain:
- Intense burning in the mouth
- Oral irritation
- Irritation and swelling of lips and tongue
- Numbness in exposed areas
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pawing at the face
- Meowing in pain
- Breathing issues from throat swelling closed
If your cat eats a large amount, which is difficult, given the level of pain this plant causes, these symptoms may develop:
- Severe digestive upset
- Rapid, shallow breathing (dyspnea)
- Extremely difficult breathing
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Renal (kidney) failure
Causes of Painter's Palette Poisoning in Cats
One substance causes your cat’s poisoning symptoms after eating painter’s palette: calcium oxalate crystals. Depending on the species of the plant, it may also contain proteinase.
Painter’s palette contains cells called “idioblasts.” These are different from other kinds of cells because they are filled with non-living substances. In the painter’s palette, this substance is calcium oxalate.
These are tiny bundles or “raphides” of crystals. One end of a crystal is blunt and the other end is extremely sharp. Every crystal is packed into a gelatin-like substance with free oxalic acid in it.
When your cat chews on the flowers, leaves, or stem of a painter’s palette, it breaks open the idioblast tip. Your cat’s saliva or plant sap enters the idioblast. The interaction of your cat’s saliva or plant sap with the gelatinous substance causes the crystals to rapidly leave the idioblast, going into the immediate area.
and embedding themselves in your cat’s skin and mouth. If your cat managed to get an idioblast into its mouth, the raphides continue blasting their way out, potentially finding their way into your cat’s esophagus and stomach.
The sap from painter’s palette can move down to your cat’s stomach, causing significant swelling and pain all the way.
Diagnosis of Painter's Palette Poisoning in Cats
As soon as your cat has ingested painter’s palette, it will be in significant pain, meowing and pawing at its face. You’ll notice swelling of its mouth and you may notice it having trouble breathing. If you see what it has eaten, carefully break off a sample and put it into a plastic bag and get to the vet immediately.
If you’re able to, collect samples of your cat’s stool and vomit and bring them to the vet for examination or testing.
Your vet will give your cat a full physical, noting all symptoms your cat is experiencing. The vet may have a lab run tests on all samples you may have brought into her office so she knows exactly what she’s working with.
and will take a blood sample, requesting a complete blood count and blood chemistry profile. Your cat may also have a urine sample taken. Once all test results are back, your vet should be able to confirm poisoning from the painter’s palette plant.
Treatment of Painter's Palette Poisoning in Cats
Once your vet has narrowed your cat’s symptoms down to poisoning from painter’s palette, she can begin treatment. She’ll begin by washing affected areas of your cat’s mouth and lips by washing with clean water. She may decide to give diphenhydramine (Benadryl) as a preventive measure so your cat doesn’t experience breathing issues.
To soothe gastrointestinal symptoms, your cat may be given sucralfate to help reduce the irritation of the stomach and intestines.
The cat may also be given Kapectolin, which helps to coat your cat’s stomach. Kapectolin reacts with your cat’s stomach acids, becoming a paste, which literally acts as a barrier between its stomach and anything that may remain inside.
Your vet may also feed plain yogurt to your cat. This helps to give it relief from the burning pain in its mouth, throat, and esophagus.
If your cat ate a large amount of the plant, its symptoms will be worse. For severe vomiting and diarrhea, your vet will monitor the cat closely for dehydration. Fluid therapy may be given. If your cat’s airway becomes obstructed, it will have to stay at the vet’s office, under observation, until your cat is breathing normally again. Your vet will also monitor your cat for signs of liver and kidney damage.
Recovery of Painter's Palette Poisoning in Cats
If your cat only managed to eat a small amount of Painter’s Palette, it will recover. Before you bring it home, remove your Painter’s Palette plant, giving it to a friend or relative who doesn’t have pets. Once your cat has received treatment, the irritation and gastrointestinal symptoms should go away within twelve to twenty-four hours.