Toxic plants

Is Elephant-Ear Begonia or Angel Wing Begonia Toxic To Cats?

Is Elephant-Ear Begonia or Angel Wing Begonia Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Elephant-ear begonia or also known as angel wing begonia is an evergreen perennial shrub that is found to contain calcium oxalates which are considered toxic to cats.  The oxalate crystals lodge themselves in numerous tissues, producing discomfort, and can break down into ‘oxalic acid,’ which is also a severe irritant, once consumed. By vomiting and attempting to dilute the acid with saliva, the cat’s body will try to minimize further irritation and damage to the digestive tract. A small amount of the toxin will eventually enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver. This chain of events is especially perilous since oxalic acid, in large enough doses, can cause catastrophic liver failure, resulting in severe disease and even death.

What Is Elephant-Ear Begonia or Angel Wing Begonia?

Elephant-ear begonia, also known scientifically as begonia scharffii, is a frost fragile, fibrous-rooted, evergreen perennial shrubby plant with long, tapering, bronzy green leaves with crimson veins on the upper side and entirely red undersides. Because the stems and leaves of elephant-ear begonias are covered in small hairs, wetting the leaves when watering them would make the hairs trap the water and foster fungal issues.

This member of the Begoniaceae plant family is endemic to Brazil but is also cultivated in other regions around the world as an ornamental plant.

Clinical Signs of Elephant-Ear Begonia or Angel Wing Begonia Poisoning in Cats

Symptoms of elephant-ear begonia poisoning in cats are typically mild but they must be addressed immediately to prevent developing worse conditions. Here are the clinical signs you should note:

  • Excessive salivation 
  • Oral sores 
  • Swelling of the mouth and tongue
  • Vomiting 
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to swallow 
  • Loss of appetite

First Aid and Treatment of Elephant-Ear Begonia or Angel Wing Begonia Poisoning in Cats

Most cases of angel wing begonia poisoning in cats are mild, and the symptoms go away on their own in about 48 hours. A prescription diet, on the other hand, might be recommended by the veterinarian since it is easier on the stomach and helps remove any oxalate crystals that are still retained in the cat’s digestive tract. To minimize throat swelling and maintain a clean airway, anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to your cat. Additional medications may also be administered by the vet depending on your cat’s condition. Fluid therapy may be required if your cat is suffering from dehydration.

Recovery from Elephant-Ear Begonia or Angel Wing Begonia Poisoning in Cats

A severe case of begonia poisoning normally has a quick recovery time, with most cases being resolved in two weeks or less and no need for follow-up sessions. The explanation for this is that oxalate crystals lose their effectiveness fast, meaning that if your cat has stopped ingesting more, his or her body’s oxalic acid levels will swiftly drop.

Prevention of Elephant-Ear Begonia or Angel Wing Begonia Poisoning in Cats

Elephant-ear begonias are not recommended to be planted or brought in a household with cats. The best prevention aside from removing elephant-ear begonias from your home is to restrict your cat from going out of your house. Utilizing cat cages and installing fences and safety nets around your house may help minimize the risk of your cat wandering away.

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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