Toxic plants

Is Coffee Tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia Toxic To Cats?

Is Coffee Tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Coffee Tree or also known as Wild Coffee, Coffee Tree, Geranium-Leaf Aralia, or simply Aralia is an evergreen shrub that is hazardous to cats.  The coffee tree contains saponins, which are poisons that can irritate a cat’s skin or cause inflammation in his mouth and gastrointestinal tract if consumed. Coffee tree poisoning can cause skin rashes, vomiting, loss of appetite, weariness, and an elevated heart rate, among other symptoms.

Coffee tree poisoning is rarely lethal and does not usually cause life-threatening complications, however, you should still take your cat to the doctor as soon as possible for medical care in case of poisoning. 

What Is Coffee Tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia?

Polyscias guilfoylei, often known as the coffee tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia, is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia that is a popular houseplant. They are slow-growing and can be pruned to maintain the desired size. Without pruning, coffee trees can reach six to eight feet tall. The spectacular leaves are sometimes variegated with white or yellow borders, but they can also be completely green.

Clinical Signs of Coffee Tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats

If cats just eat a small quantity of coffee tree or are only exposed to it physically for a short time, they may not show any symptoms. However, if your cat consumes a considerable amount, he or she may develop symptoms as soon as the exposure occurs, including:

  • Dermatitis
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Elevated heart rate

First Aid and Treatment of Coffee Tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats

To avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalances caused by prolonged vomiting and diarrhea, your cat may receive IV fluids. Typically, the vet may induce vomiting and, once the vomiting has subsided, may administer activated charcoal. Depending on your cat’s condition, the veterinarian may conduct gastric lavage as needed. In case of skin irritation, the veterinarian may need to prescribe a corticosteroid to reduce the swelling and inflammation.

Recovery from Coffee Tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats

The majority of cats who have been poisoned by coffee trees will recover completely. The sooner you bring your cat to the clinic for treatment, the higher his chances of making a full recovery are, just like with other types of poisoning. 

Once you are home with your cat, give him or her a lot of fluids to continue clearing his or her stomach. Keep your cat’s environment cozy and warm as he or she is still recuperating.

Prevention of Coffee Tree or Geranium-Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats

Avoid growing coffee trees and other plants that may be toxic for your cats. If there are known coffee trees or other hazardous plants growing in your area, limit your cat’s outdoor activities. It is also best to confine them inside a playpen or cat house when you are not at home.

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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