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What is Plantain Lily Poisoning?

Plantain lily poisoning rarely leads to life-threatening conditions unless a massive amount of the toxin has been consumed. But, this is still a serious condition that may require treatment from a veterinary professional. If you see signs of plantain lily poisoning in your cat, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Plantain lilies, also known as hostas, are known for their bright and beautiful green leaves that are often shaped like hearts or ovals.  The dense foliage of this plant makes it a popular addition to homes and gardens across the world. But, many people are unaware that these plants are highly toxic to cats. Plantain lilies contain saponins, which are toxins that can irritate cats’ gastrointestinal systems if they are consumed. Cats may begin to exhibit symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression in the hours following exposure to the toxin.

Symptoms of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Cats

Plantain lily poisoning symptoms may start off slowly and then worsen as more time passes. It’s best to contact a veterinarian as soon as you spot any of the symptoms instead of waiting to see if they get worse. Some of the most common symptoms you may observe include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression

Causes of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Cats

This condition is caused by consumption of the plantain lily plant. This type of lily contains saponins, which are toxic to small animals, including dogs and cats. A small amount of this toxin can upset your cat’s gastrointestinal system, but a large amount can cause a much more severe reaction.

Diagnosis of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Cats

If you see your cat chewing on an unknown plant, or if you begin to spot the symptoms of toxicity, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you witnessed him eating the plant, try to take a picture or bring in a sample to show the vet. If you didn’t see your cat eating the plant, it may be helpful to bring in a sample of his vomit so the vet can look for signs of regurgitated plant matter. Tell the vet what symptoms you have observed, and when they first began. The vet will need as much information as possible. Diagnosing plantain lily poisoning is difficult because there is no test for this condition, which means the vet will rely heavily on what you tell him.

The vet may choose to examine the contents of your cat’s stomach with an endoscope. This will help him look for clues as to what could be causing the symptoms. If there is still undigested plant material in the stomach, the vet should be able to make a diagnosis. 

Treatment of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Cats

The vet will immediately begin to treat your cat following a diagnosis of plantain lily poisoning. Any plant material that is still in your cat’s system will need to be removed through induced vomiting to prevent further issues. Vomiting is induced with the help of a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution that is administered orally in small doses. The vet can also administer activated charcoal, which is known as nature’s best absorbent. Charcoal will enter the cat’s system and absorb any toxins that have not yet made their way into the bloodstream. The vet also has the option of performing a stomach wash, known as a gastric lavage, to flush out your cat’s stomach. He should also thoroughly wash your cat’s oral cavity to remove any bits and pieces of plant material that are still lingering around.

There are usually not complications during treatment for plantain lily poisoning. However, induced vomiting can often lead to dehydration. Your cat will need to be monitored by a vet to ensure he does not become dehydrated during treatment. If he does, IV fluids will need to be administered to help him regain his strength.

Recovery of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Cats

Most cats will fully recover from plantain lily poisoning. In some cases, the symptoms may not be severe enough to even warrant a treatment. Cats are almost always sent home immediately following treatment, but they may need to stay with the vet if they have suffered from dehydration as a result of the treatment.

Ask the vet if you will need to make any changes to your cat’s diet in the days following treatment. Your cat’s stomach may be sensitive after treatment, so the vet may recommend a diet of softer foods until the cat has fully recovered. 

You will need to remove any toxic plants from your home and garden to prevent your cat from running into further issues. Talk to your vet about which plants are poisonous so you know which should be immediately removed. If you think your neighbors have toxic plants in their yards, it may be best to keep your cat indoors as much as possible.