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What is Paraguayan Jasmine Poisoning?

Paraguayan jasmine can be found in wooded areas and as an ornamental shrub in household gardens. It has large tubular flowers with five petals. Poisoning in cats is not common as it is not a common plant and cats are not usually exposed to it, however, if your cat experience exposure and ingestion seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Paraguayan jasmine, of the plant family Solanaceae and the Brunfelsia species, goes by many other common names including yesterday, today, tomorrow, lady-of-the-night, morning-noon-and-night, kiss-me-quick, and Franciscan rain tree. It is toxic to cats and other animals and its severe toxic effects can last several days. Symptoms include gastrointestinal and nervous system effects. Other members in the same plant family are deadly nightshade and mandrake which are very toxic. 

Symptoms of Paraguayan Jasmine Poisoning in Cats

Symptoms of poisoning with Brunfelsia plants (such as Paraguayan Jasmine) are diverse and can last for several days they include:

  • Tremors/trembling
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Ataxia (lack of control of body movements)
  • Lethargy
  • Twitching (facial)
  • Disorientation
  • Staggering
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Proprioceptive deficits (inability to control limb movement)
  • Hyperthermia/Hypothermia (inability to regulate temperature)
  • Vocalization

Causes of Paraguayan Jasmine Poisoning in Cats

Toxic principles of Paraguayan jasmine are brunfelsamindines and hopeanines. They are found in all parts of the plant but vary in concentrations depending on the plant part. Leaves, flowers, and stems have lower concentrations, making them less toxic. Berries have high concentrations of toxic compounds and are more dangerous. Poisoning with this plant is quite rare and the exact mechanism of toxicity is not well understood. Toxicity, however, is severe and can be fatal as toxins have a similar effect as strychnine. They affect the nervous system by inhibiting neurotransmitters.

Diagnosis of Paraguayan Jasmine Poisoning in Cats

Diagnosis may be difficult for your veterinarian because of the rarity of poisoning with this plant. If you can bring a sample of the plant ingested it will help your veterinarian in identifying the cause of poisoning and addressing symptoms as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will examine your cat and collect any relevant information on your pet's medical condition. Your veterinarian may order blood and urine tests to assess organ system functioning if your cat is affected by poisoning.

Treatment of Paraguayan Jasmine Poisoning in Cats

If caught early after ingestion, and before symptoms occur, your veterinarian may induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal, combined with medication to cause defecation in an effort to pass the drug through the gastrointestinal system with minimal absorption. Gastric lavage may also be used to purge as much of the plant from your cat's system as possible. 

Supportive care for central nervous system symptoms will be administered. Intravenous fluid therapy will be set up to hydrate your cat and provide an easy route for administering intravenous medication to address nervous system disorder. If seizures are present sodium pentobarbital, diazepam, primidone or methocarbamol may be administered. If seizures can not be controlled with medication then your cat may be sedated or anesthetized and maintained with isoflurane gas. 

If respiratory failure occurs, your cat may require intubation and maintenance with artificial respiration. Treatment with corticosteroids to control inflammation and topical ophthalmic ointment to address optical stress may also be used as part of supportive treatment.

Recovery of Paraguayan Jasmine Poisoning in Cats

As symptoms can occur for several days, ongoing hospitalization and management by your veterinarian may be required. When released, recovering cats should be kept in a stress-free environment away from other household plants. As cats recovering from this type of poisoning experience problems with regulation of body temperature you will need to monitor your cat's temperature and adjust the environment as necessary. This can be accomplished by providing heating pads, cooling baths, or fans. Continued fluid therapy may be required to restore hydration and recover electrolyte balance. A modified diet to address this and address gastrointestinal effects may be recommended. Ensure the plant is removed so that your cat cannot be re-exposed. Prognosis is poor and recovery may take days to weeks. Ongoing monitoring by your veterinarian and follow-up treatment may be required.