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What is Red Emerald Poisoning?

The red emerald contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that are released into your cat’s mouth when he bites into the plant. These crystals can cause irritation to the mouth, throat, and tongue and your cat may begin to paw at his mouth in an attempt to stop the burning. Your cat may also begin to vomit or drool excessively as a result of the poisoning.

Red emerald poisoning can be incredibly painful for your cat. Although this condition is not fatal, it’s still important to take your cat to a veterinarian for treatment as quickly as possible to make him more comfortable. 

The red emerald plant, which is also known as the horsehead philodendron, cordatum, red princess, and heartleaf philodendron, is adored because of its dense foliage. It is often used as a decorative plant in landscaping or as a houseplant. However, people many not be aware that this beautiful plant can be toxic to animals such as cats and dogs. 

Symptoms of Red Emerald Poisoning in Cats

Once a cat begins to chew on or bite into a red emerald plant, he will begin to experience some of the symptoms of poisoning. The severity of poisoning will vary depending on the amount of red emerald plant that is consumed. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Irritation in the oral cavity
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing

Causes of Red Emerald Poisoning in Cats

This type of poisoning occurs when a cat begins to chew on or eat any part of the red emerald plant. This plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which are released into the cat’s mouth when the cat chews on or bites into the plant.  The crystals will dig deep into the tissues inside the cat’s mouth and cause pain and discomfort.

Diagnosis of Red Emerald Poisoning in Cats

If you notice your cat chewing on the red emerald plant, or if you begin to notice any of the symptoms of poisoning, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will need as much information as possible in order to quickly diagnose your cat’s condition. It can be helpful if you bring in a sample or photo of the plant that you saw your cat eating, but if this isn’t possible, a sample of the cat’s vomit can also help.

Describe the symptoms in great detail, including any unusual behavior your cat has exhibited since the symptoms began. Some cats will paw at their mouths because of the burning, so telling your vet this can help him understand your cat’s condition.

The vet will perform a physical examination, which can include complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile tests. Once he begins to inspect the cat, he should see signs of tissue damage in the oral cavity which, combined with the description of symptoms, should be enough to help him diagnose your cat’s condition. 

Treatment of Red Emerald Poisoning in Cats

Your cat may be in a great deal of pain as a result of red emerald poisoning, so it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible following the diagnosis. The vet will begin by thoroughly washing out your cat’s mouth to remove any crystals that may be present. He can also perform a gastric lavage, which is a stomach wash, to remove any of the toxins that could be present in the stomach cavity.

Even if the crystals are removed, the cat may experience some discomfort. Your vet may recommend specific foods to soothe irritation.

The vet may need to administer Benadryl to help control swelling. If this is not administered, your cat’s airways may begin to swell shut and make it difficult for him to breathe.

If your cat is dehydrated as a result of the vomiting, the vet can administer fluids intravenously to help him regain his strength. Sucralfate and Kaopectin can also be given to coat the stomach lining and prevent further irritation.

Recovery of Red Emerald Poisoning in Cats

Most cats are sent home immediately following treatment, however some may need to stay longer if they are dehydrated and need to be monitored by a vet while they recover.

It’s important to remove any red emerald plants from your home and garden immediately so your cat does not come into contact with them again. If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors, it may be wise to keep him indoors as much as possible unless he is supervised.