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Is Heaven Bamboo or Nandina Toxic To Cats?

Is Heaven Bamboo or Nandina Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Heavenly bamboo or also known as sacred bamboo and nandina is a flowering plant known for its distinct foliage. This colorful plant though is poisonous for cats as it contains cyanogenic glycosides, which are a plant’s natural self-defense toxin. When a cat eats any part of heavenly bamboo, cyanogenic glucosides are released, which when the glucose molecule is removed, is converted into hydrogen cyanide. The cat’s cells are disrupted by hydrogen cyanide, which prevents the formation of ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, a chemical that provides energy to each cell.

What Is Heavenly Bamboo or Nandina?

Heavenly bamboo or scientifically known as nandina domestica is a popular decorative upright evergreen shrub of the Berberidaceae family with vivid red berries. With its network of rhizomatous stems that sucker and reseed quickly, this Asian native is an aggressive grower. 

Heavenly bamboo grows up to eight feet tall with unbranched cane-like growth, but if not pruned, it can become lanky. This shrub provides attractive fruits and flowers in late spring and features reddish new growth and fall foliage that varies seasonally and annually in one plant. The visual appeal of this plant is year-round.

Clinical Signs of Heavenly Bamboo or Nandina Poisoning in Cats

Consumption of any part of the heavenly bamboo will cause poisoning in cats. Seek veterinary care as soon as your cat manifests any clinical signs of heavenly bamboo poisoning. The usual symptoms that cats may experience are:

  • Bright red colored mucus membranes 
  • Dyspnea
  • Hyperventilation 
  • Respiratory failure 
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Weakness 

First Aid and Treatment of Heavenly Bamboo or Nandina Poisoning in Cats

Since there is no specific antidote for heavenly bamboo or nandina poisoning in cats, the typical treatment will be alleviating the symptoms that your cat is experiencing. Taking your cat to the vet for appropriate and efficient therapy is important.

Veterinary treatment may include administering activated charcoal, intravenous fluids, and performing gastric lavage or pumping your cat’s stomach. Other medications needed to alleviate your cat’s symptoms may be also prescribed by the veterinarian as he may deem necessary.

Recovery from Heavenly Bamboo or Nandina Poisoning in Cats

If your cat ingested a large quantity of heavenly bamboo, the outlook of his or her recovery will be bleak. Nonetheless, as long as your cat was brought to the vet immediately and was provided prompt medical care, he or she will have a high chance of surviving.

Prevention of Heavenly Bamboo or Nandina Poisoning in Cats

It is safer to keep your cat inside your house to reduce the risk of exposure of your cat to heavenly bamboos and other poisonous plants in the neighborhood. As a cat owner, be responsible to do your research about toxic plants and take preventative measures to avoid intoxication.

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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