What is Satin Pothos Poisoning?
The satin pothos plant is a member of the Araceae family and is well-known throughout the world by its scientific name, Scindapsus pictus. The satin pothos can be identified by its bright green leaves that are outlined and splattered with white coloration. Commonly given the name, silk pothos, this toxic plant is a popular ornamental houseplant, which puts indoor house cats at a higher risk for intoxication.
Satin pothos poisoning in cats is a condition of toxicity caused by the ingestion of the root, stem or leaves of the satin pothos. The satin pothos is laced with needle-like calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. When swallowed, these raphides cause an intense burning sensation of the mouth and can even cause significant throat swelling that can cause the feline to suffocate. If the oxalate crystals are digested, the needle-shaped crystals will precipitate in the feline’s kidneys, transforming into a solid, which leads to eventual death. A sure sign of satin pothos poisoning in cats is visible signs of oral irritation, paired with excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
Symptoms of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Cats
The satin pothos causes a severe burning sensation to the cat’s mouth, which can be identified by irritation to the cat’s lips, tongue, and cheeks. The feline’s mouth may be red in coloration and swollen, causing the feline to drool excessively. The needle-like crystals inside the satin pothos can cause severe throat swelling, which prevents air from entering the lungs and results in suffocation. The feline may vomit as the body responds to the toxic element inside the upper digestive tract, but upon digestion, the raphides can reach the kidneys.
Causes of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Cats
The toxic component of the satin pothos is the needle-like calcium oxalate crystals called raphides. A feline can be poisoned by the satin pothos if the stem, leaves, roots, or unripened fruit are digested. Chewing the satin pothos plant breaks down the raphides and releases the needle-like calcium oxalate crystals. The crystal can lodge themselves into the cat’s throat and digestive system for up to two weeks after the initial consumption.
Diagnosis of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing a satin pothos poisoning in cats is difficult as there is no specific test available for identifying this type of toxicity. Your veterinarian’s diagnosis will be based on ruling out other possible causes of your feline’s current condition that could cause similar symptoms. The diagnostic process will begin with a physical examination, review of the feline’s medical history and a consultation with the pet owner. It will be important for you to inform the veterinarian about your feline’s recent actions and exposure to satin pothos, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes. The clinical signs that satin pothos poisoning causes in cat, such as vomiting and diarrhea, are the same symptoms as several other feline-related health conditions. The veterinarian will want to conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from a satin pothos toxicity and not a more severe underlying condition. Diagnostic tests the veterinarian will likely request to be performed on the feline include:
- CBC (complete blood cell count)
- Biochemical profile (blood work)
- Blood smear test
- Urinalysis (examination of urine)
- Fecal floatation test
- Fecal examination
Treatment of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Cats
Although there is no known antidote to counteract a satin pothos poisoning in cats, immediate veterinary care can save the feline’s life. The key to a positive prognosis is receiving treatment prior to kidney organ shutdown. The veterinarian may administer medication to induce vomiting or give the feline an activated charcoal solution to bind with the toxic plant chemical, to later be passed in fecal form from the body.
If the veterinarian feels the satin pothos toxin has entered the cat’s bloodstream and needs to be flushed through the urine, intravenous fluids will be started upon clinical arrival. If your cat has continuously vomited or has experienced severe diarrhea, fluids may also be administered to replace the feline’s level of hydration. As the satin pothos can cause throat irritation, Kapectolin may also be administered to coat the inside of the throat and stomach.
Recovery of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Cats
The prognosis for a satin pothos poisoning in cats is guarded and greatly depends on the extent of the toxicity. In general, cats that receive emergency veterinary care have a greater chance of survival that those that have allowed the raphides to reach the kidneys. To avoid satin pothos poisoning in the future, remove all household plants from the home and outdoor potted plants from the surrounding area.