Toxic plants

Is Bead Tree or Chinaberry Tree Toxic to Cats?

Is Bead Tree or Chinaberry Tree Toxic to Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Bead trees or more commonly known as Chinaberry Tree are commonly grown in public spaces and gardens as ornamental plants. While it is popular with gardeners ang landscapers, it is not recommended to grow in homes with cats as bead trees contain toxic substances called meliatoxins that are poisonous to your felines.

Fruit is the most poisonous part of a Bead Tree but toxins are also found in its bark, leaves, and flowers. Meliatoxins are neurotoxins that attack nerves, causing loss of motor function and control of vital body functions. Meliatoxin prevents neurons in the nervous system from transferring impulses efficiently throughout the body. This will result to involuntary muscular movements and inability to manage basic body functions, thus, vomiting, diarrhea and heart attacks happens.

What Is Bead Tree?

Scientifically known as Melia azedarach, Bead Tree is an ornamental invasive tree in the mahogany family, Meliaceae, that is native to Southeast Asia and parts of Oceania but is now cultivated in parts of the United States. This deciduous tree has a rounded crown with rigid coarse branches that can withstand a variety of soil conditions.

Other names for Bead Tree also include China Ball Tree, Paradise Tree, Persian Lilac, White Cedar, Japanese Bead Tree, Texas Umbrella Tree, and Pride of India. 

Clinical Signs of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats

Once a part of Bead Tree is ingested by your cat, he or she may may manifest the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Hypersalivation
  • Diarrhea 
  • Bloody stool
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cardiac arrest

If you notice any sign of poisoning in your cat, it is best to bring him or her to a veterinarian immediately for prompt veterinary care.

First Aid and Treatment of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats

There is no direct treatment for meliatoxin poisoning, but it can be neutralized with the help of a veterinarian. The first is to pump the cat’s stomach; although the vomiting and diarrhea will have emptied much of the digestive tract, trace amounts of bead tree material may still be present for the body to absorb. An IV drip will be started by the veterinarian to begin fluid replacement therapy. This will both prevent dehydration and dilute any toxins still present in the body.

Recovery from Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats

In most cases, symptoms of Bead Tree poisoning are only mild so you can take your cat home on the same day after treatment. If your cat’s condition is severe, the veterinarian may recommend hospitalization to closely monitor your cat’s condition. In order for your cat to regain a complete range of motor function, the vet may require follow-up appointments and potentially undergo physiotherapy sessions.

The recovery timeframe of your cat varies depending on the severity of the poisoning; some cats recover completely in a couple of weeks, while others remain disabled for the remainder of their lives.

Prevention of Bead Tree Poisoning in Cats

It is imperative to remove Bead Trees in the vicinity of your home if you have them. Keep your cat safe indoors and do not let them go outdoors without supervision. Maintain their good health condition by providing them sufficient and well-balanced diet.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

About the author

Clair Chesterman

Clair Chesterman is a professional cat breeder having her own cageless CFA and CCA Registered cattery & fostering company FluffyMeowPaws in Eugene, Oregon. Clair is a plant enthusiast too and she made in-depth research on toxic and non-toxic plants for cats.

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