What is Plum Poisoning?

Your cat has a better chance of recovering from this condition if he is treated immediately after he begins to exhibit symptoms. It’s imperative that you take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect he has eaten any part of the plum.

Plums are a sweet, juicy fruit that are full of flavor, but these purple-red colored fruits, along with their stems and leaves, should be kept far away from cats. The seeds, leaves, and stems contain cyanide, which is a toxin that can cause vomiting, panting, shock, and death if the condition is not treated.

Symptoms of Plum Poisoning in Cats

It’s important to learn how to spot the signs of plum poisoning so you can get help for your cat as soon as possible if he develops this condition. Some of the most common symptoms you may observe include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive panting
  • Vomiting
  • Shock
  • Bright red mucous membranes, especially the gums

Causes of Plum Poisoning in Cats

Plum poisoning occurs after your cat consumes any part of the plum fruit or plant. The plum’s stems, leaves, and seeds contain cyanide, which is a highly toxic chemical. Plums are always toxic to cats, but they are especially dangerous as they wilt. This is because they have higher concentrations of the toxin during wilting. 

Diagnosis of Plum Poisoning in Cats

Take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible after you spot the symptoms of plum poisoning, or if you see your cat eating a plum. Knowing what your cat has ingested will help your vet make a quick diagnosis. If you didn’t see your cat eating the plum, be as specific as possible when describing the symptoms you have observed. Be sure to mention when they first began and if your cat may have eaten anything usual lately. If your cat has already started to vomit, it may be helpful to carefully collect and bring in a sample of the vomit so the vet can identify regurgitated plant matter.

The vet can test for cyanide poisoning by performing a trocarization, which is the process of removing fluid from the stomach cavity to test it for toxins. The vet has to be incredibly careful while performing this procedure so he does not expose you or himself to cyanide. You may need to leave the room or wear safety gear while the procedure is done.

Treatment of Plum Poisoning in Cats

Treatment will need to begin immediately after the vet confirms that your cat is suffering from cyanide poisoning. Cyanide poisoning can be fatal, so the vet will need to move quickly. He may begin by administering 0.3 mL of amyl nitrate nasally, but this is typically only used in emergency situations.

Cyanide poisoning is treated with sodium nitrite, which is administered to your cat through an IV.  This procedure will only last for approximately three to four minutes. Next, the vet can either switch the IV to administer sodium thiosulfate, which is a cyanide antidote, or he can administer this medication orally instead.

The vet will most likely keep your cat connected to a respirator during treatment to ensure he is getting enough oxygen. Cyanide poisoning treatment can be risky, and many cats may experience side effects such as excessive vomiting and low blood pressure. The vet and his team will closely monitor your cat throughout treatment so they can immediately spot signs of danger such as a rapid drop in blood pressure.

The vet will continue to monitor your cat for hours following treatment. If the symptoms have not improved, another dose of sodium nitrate may need to be administered.

Recovery of Plum Poisoning in Cats

Cyanide is an incredibly dangerous poison, so the sooner you take your cat in for treatment, the better his chances are of making a full recovery. Your cat may need to stay with the vet following treatment so he can be closely monitored. This is especially common in cases where the cat experienced side effects from the treatment. 

Before taking your cat home, make sure you talk to your vet about toxic plants that could be in your home or garden. Remove plums, plum plants, and any other plants that contain cyanide so your cat is not exposed to this toxin again. It’s wise to keep your cat indoors as much as possible so he does not come into contact with toxic plants in someone else’s yard.

Keep your cat calm and comfortable once he is home. You should ask your vet about whether you need to make modifications to your cat’s diet for the next several days. Treatment can be traumatic, and your cat’s stomach may still be sensitive for days afterwards. The vet may recommend sticking to softer foods while your cat recovers.