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What is Prayer Bean Poisoning?

If you believe your cat has ingested the prayer bean plant, or if you simply notice the symptoms of poisoning, take  him to a veterinarian right away. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal, so it’s important to seek assistance from a veterinarian as soon as possible.

The prayer bean plant, which is also known as the rosary pea, Seminole bead, Indian bead, Indian licorice, love bean, and lucky bean, contains abrin and abric acid, two chemicals that are highly toxic to cats. The toxins are found in the seeds, which pose the greatest risk to cats when the seed coat is broken. Cats who have ingested the seeds of the prayer bean plant will begin to exhibit various symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, a high fever, and an elevated heart rate.

Symptoms of Prayer Bean Poisoning in Cats

The symptoms of prayer bean poisoning may become noticeable immediately after your cat has ingested the plant. Some of the most common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Severe vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • The presence of blood in feces
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Shock
  • Death 

Causes of Prayer Bean Poisoning in Cats

Prayer bean poisoning is caused by the ingestion of the prayer bean plant. The seeds contain an incredibly high concentration of the toxins known as abrin and abric acid. If the seed coat is broken, the seeds can be toxic to animals. However, if the seed coat is not broken, there’s a chance the toxins may not affect your cat. 

Diagnosis of Prayer Bean Poisoning in Cats

If you spot any of the signs of prayer bean poisoning, or if you see your cat chewing on an unknown plant, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. It’s recommended that you bring a sample or photo of the plant to help your vet quickly make a diagnosis. If you do not see your cat chewing on the plant, you can try to bring a sample of vomit so the vet can identify regurgitated plant matter. Be sure to provide as much information as possible to the vet about the symptoms you have observed. 

There’s no test to confirm prayer bean poisoning, so the vet will rely heavily on the description of the symptoms you provide. The vet may also choose to examine the contents of your cat’s stomach using an endoscope. This is a thin tube placed down the throat that allows the vet to see inside your cat’s stomach. If there is any plant matter left in the stomach, he should be able to identify it and confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Prayer Bean Poisoning in Cats

Treatment will begin immediately after the vet has diagnosed your cat’s condition. First, the vet will induce vomiting to remove any toxins that may still be inside your cat’s stomach. Vomiting can be induced using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution that is administered orally. The vet can also administer activated charcoal, which will absorb toxins that have not entered your cat’s bloodstream yet. Finally, the vet can choose to do a gastric lavage, which is the medical term for a stomach wash. This is done to flush out the stomach cavity and remove any remaining toxins.

The vet can also give your cat sucralfate, which is a medication that turns into a thick paste and coats the stomach to prevent further irritation. This is administered after vomiting has been induced to stop the vomiting and calm down your cat’s stomach.

Excessive vomiting can quickly lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which are serious complications associated with this treatment. To prevent this issue, the vet will administer fluids intravenously to your cat before, during, or after treatment. The vet will also monitor your cat’s vital signs throughout treatment to ensure his condition does not rapidly decline.

Recovery of Prayer Bean Poisoning in Cats

Compared to other poisonous plants, the prayer bean contains an incredibly high concentration of toxins. This means recovery is not guaranteed, especially if you wait too long to take your cat in for treatment. If you are able to start treatment right away, your cat has a much better chance of making a recovery.

Talk to your vet to determine if you will need to make any changes to your cat’s diet in the days following treatment. Induced vomiting can be tough on your cat’s stomach, so the vet may suggest sticking to softer foods for a few days while the cat recovers from treatment.

Carefully monitor your cat and contact a veterinarian immediately if you believe the symptoms are returning or worsening.

Be sure to remove the prayer bean from your yard. If you’re not sure where your cat was exposed to this plant, it’s best to keep him indoors so he does not come into contact with it again.