Toxic plants

Is Cyclamen or Sowbread Toxic To Cats?

Is Cyclamen or Sowbread Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Cyclamen or commonly known as sowbread is a common flowering houseplant that contains terpenoid saponins. The rhizomatous tubers that grow below the soil have the highest concentration of terpenoid saponins. Large doses of cyclamen can cause major cardiac rhythm problems, convulsions, and even death. Because of their placement beneath the soil and their terrible taste, cats eating the tubers are rare.

What Is Cyclamen or Sowbread?

Sowbread or cyclamen is characterized by its heart-shaped light- and dark-green leaves. It has pink or white flowers that resemble butterflies. It is a tuberous perennial, which means it dies down to its thick roots in the summer and regrows swiftly in the fall. This plant from the Primulaceae family is a popular houseplant, especially during the winter holiday season, when you may find them flowering in gardens and indoors.

Clinical Signs of Cyclamen or Sowbread Poisoning in Cats

The usual cyclamen poisoning indicators in cats that you should note are:

  • Hypersalivation
  • Diarrhea, which may be bloody
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bloody urine
  • Gastroenteritis

If cyclamen was consumed in large quantity or if its roots were ingested by your cat, severe clinical signs may occur such as:

  • Abnormal heart rate and rhythm
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures
  • Ulcerative gastritis
  • Paralysis
  • Terminal convulsions
  • Death

First Aid and Treatment of Cyclamen or Sowbread Poisoning in Cats

If your cat has eaten only a few leaves or blooms, try to rinse any residual plant matter out of the mouth with water. Cats that have consumed considerable portions of the plant or tubers require immediate veterinarian attention.

If the consumption was recent, the veterinarian can induce vomiting to clear the gastrointestinal tract of plant matter and inject activated charcoal to prevent future absorption. Intravenous fluids will be also given to your cat to prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Recovery from Cyclamen or Sowbread Poisoning in Cats

If you get your cat to a veterinary clinic within 24 hours of eating a sowbread plant, it has the best chance of recovering. The longer you wait between ingesting this plant and seeking medical help, the lower your cat’s chances of recovery become.

Prevention of Cyclamen or Sowbread Poisoning in Cats

Avoid bringing or growing cyclamen in your household. Research first or ask your veterinarian if a plant is safe for your cat before purchasing or growing it. Keep an eye on your cat especially when he or she is outdoors. You can also restrict your cat from going outside by confining him in a cat house or by building fences and installing safety nets around your house.

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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