Toxic plants

Is Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry Toxic To Cats?

Is Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry Toxic To Cats? 
Written by Clair Chesterman

Jerusalem cherry or also commonly known as Natal cherry and Winter cherry is typically used as a holiday ornament in households. Cat owners should be aware that all parts of this plant are toxic, with the highest concentration of toxins in the berries.

Solanocapsine, aramines, phentamines, dopamine, fluoxotine, and amphetamine derivatives are among the chemicals found in this plant. The majority of study into the toxicity of Jerusalem cherry has focused on solanocapsine, a chemical molecule linked to solanine. While research and trials have proven that this chemical has the potential to cause death, this is unlikely due to the toxin’s low oral absorption.

What Is Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry?

Scientifically known as solanum pseudocapiscum, Jerusalem cherry is a member of the Solanaceae family that is commonly grown indoors and used as a Christmas ornament. The white blossoms of the winter cherry are tiny and star-shaped. The unusual leaves and brilliant red berries make Jerusalem cherry plant appealing. These berries start out green and turn red over time and the shrub blooms right before winter. Its fruit ripens throughout the season. The winter cherry is a South American native that cannot withstand frost.

Clinical Signs of Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry Poisoning in Cats

Typical symptoms of Jerusalem cherry poisoning in cats are gastrointestinal issues. However, it can also affect the central nervous system in severe cases. Signs to look out for in your cats are:

  • Hypersalivation
  • Severe gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Vertigo
  • Dyspnea
  • Respiratory paralysis
  • Anticholinergic syndrome
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperpyrexia
  • Ataxia
  • Excitement
  • Drowsiness
  • Coma
  • Dry skin
  • Irregular heart rhythm 
  • Mydriasis or dilation of pupils

First Aid and Treatment of Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry Poisoning in Cats

Symptomatic treatment is the most common approach to Jerusalem cherry or winter cherry consumption. It may be required in some circumstances to seek emergency medical help. Intravenous fluid therapy, vomiting induction, and activated charcoal administration are all common treatment methods for plant poisoning. Depending on your cat’s condition, your veterinarian may suggest doing gastric lavage. The veterinarian has the authority to administer drugs as he sees fit.

Recovery from Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry Poisoning in Cats

Death from Jerusalem cherry poisoning is rare, although it does happen. Cats that have eaten winter cherry have an excellent chance of recovering if they are treated quickly. Within one or two days, the symptoms will most likely fade away. 

Prevention of Jerusalem Cherry or Winter Cherry Poisoning in Cats

To avoid poisoning threats in your cats, search for other holiday decoration alternatives that are cat-friendly. If your cat likes to go outdoors, train them to stray away from toxic plants or you can also limit their outdoor activities by keeping them engaged while confined in a cat playpen. You can also try building fences and installing safety nets around the vicinity of your 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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